stay motivated by changing your inner dialogue

Staying Motivated

There IS a secret to staying motivated and it is completely within your control. That’s the good news. Putting the secret to work to benefit you takes just a little conscious effort on your part. (For you super-lazy people, that’s the bad news.)

For the rest of us, staying motivated is actually easier than you think right now. And sure, some of your “anchor” reminders or aspirational images truly may help you focus on where you’re going. I won’t say that’s complete hogwash. After all, I am often caught saying “we have in our lives exactly what we believe we deserve.” And I stand by that. So those anchors and aspirational images actually do help you envision what you deserve…as long as they are not accompanied by an inner dialogue that completely negates everything they stand for.

If you look at that anchor photo of the beautiful house you will afford, or the lovey-dovey couple joyously cavorting on the beach in their elder years, or the svelte model in the exact jumpsuit you have hanging in your closet waiting for you to drop 15 pounds…and you say to yourself “fat chance, sucker, who do you think you are? That’s not you; you’ll never get there…”

…well, it’s not the image or anchor that needs to change. It’s your inner dialogue that needs to adjust so your motivation has some staying power! And the key to staying motivated is shifting your inner dialogue.

Shift the Inner Dialogue to stay motivated

Psychology Today did an article on Silencing your Inner Critic several months ago. Since I keep the magazine in my lobby at Luwandi Counseling and Coaching here in Cincinnati, I observe what people pick up. Other issues have been recycled, but reprints of that one article has been requested more than any other.

Maybe part of the reason is that I talk about this in sessions. It relates to being gentle, (a theme song everyone who knows me hears over and over) and it’s one of the best ways to stay motivated when the rest of therapy (or life) is a struggle.

Why on earth are we hard on ourselves?

Many of us think it’s what actually gets us motivated and moving. That’s rarely authentically true. Usually there is fear under the harshness and well, fear just is NOT as good as faith (or love and respect.) Ask any kid who ever had a harsh parent.

Did that harshness really engender respect and make any child a better person? I have met adults who heard that harshness and gritted their teeth and vowed to prove that parent, coach, or teacher wrong! But it was anger that motivated, not the harshness itself.

Sure, I’ve had clients who internalized the harshness and passed that harshness, critical, and bitter bile onto their children, hurting the generation to follow. But no one was better for it.

And yes, fear keeps us running for a while. All of us have imagined wolves or rabid dogs (of some sort) chasing and nipping at our heels and it DID keep us moving and striving. But it’s exhausting after a bit. It’s super exhausting after years… or decades.

It’s time you put down the harshness and fear and realized it just does not serve you anymore.

There is a better way!

Shift your inner dialogue from harsh to caring (not permissive or anything goes, don’t worry!) I know at first it can feel like you’re hiking cliff-side without guard rails, but You have Got this! (I say that even though I secretly think that phrase is so overused!)

But seriously… get a hold of yourself, keep your eyes in front of you. Resist the fear and just proceed one step after the other.

Notice when your inner dialogue gets harsh. It happens any time you call yourself names, when you disparage your efforts, or label your behavior as worthy of disdain. First notice, and then replace it with something you can believe.

Replace the inner critic with a Cheerleader

I’m talking the kind of cheerleader you can believe. Which means you don’t go from zero to a thousand if your mind is just going to laugh at you. Begin in gentle increments. But begin.

You’re not an idiot. You’re not a slob or gross or a klutz or hopeless. Start with easy phrases like “you got this” if you can believe it. Encourage yourself with soothing, encouraging phrases you might tell a small child. Cheer yourself with things you’d say to a very dearest friend. Be GOOD to you.

Just a note

Yes, being good to you IS different than being indulgent. In my office, I like to talk about waking up your true self, the “Gentle, Benevolent Observer” who is really your higher self, your higher consciousness, the higher self, your functional adult…all the same part of each of us as humans. You’ll recognize her when she acts like her name. You’ll know him when he shows up performing the duties his name describes. Get in touch with THAT part of you. It’s the YOU who prevails, succeeds, breaks habits, makes new ones, and reaches the goals your heart desires.

Need help with that? Of course, reach out. Shoot me a message on the contact page or JOIN the Insider’s Club and get my Love Letters.

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relationship patterns that need busting might mean learning to walk down a different sidewalk

Relationship Patterns Busted

We all establish relationship patterns, sometimes without realizing it. Even when you’re aware you’re doing the same dance (or experiencing the same frustrations) it can be hard to see things clearly from the inside.

Maybe one day you suddenly realize you’re doing all the reaching out. You text and call. You initiate contact. You come up with fun ideas for what to do together. It’s never the other person.

Or you realize you just can’t seem to get what you need no matter what you’ve done to make those needs known. It’s almost like you’re speaking a foreign language. If only you could feel heard. You try harder and get even less!

It could be you’ve loaned more money or paid for an outing or bent over backwards to help and had the same person fade or withdraw over and over. In your frustration, you realize they only surface when they need something. Next time they appear, you appreciate feeling needed, (and you’ve missed them) so once again you give, only to have them do the same thing when they get what they came for.

Your pattern might be something different entirely. Like the more you want connection and ask for it, the more she withdraws. Maybe the more you treat him like a child, the more irresponsible he becomes.

It can take time and insight to recognize relationship patterns.

It’s easy for other people to see what you’re doing. And not so easy to make sense of it or see it clearly when you are the one (or two) doing the dance.

Even if you recognize yourself in one of the above descriptions, (or any other recurrent pattern) it can be tough catching yourself in the middle of it. Besides that, from the inside of the dance you may think you look a whole lot different on the outside.

(Hint, hint, you probably DO look a whole lot crazier to other people, especially those who have witnessed the relationship pattern over and over and over. Remember, just because you look crazy doesn’t mean you ARE. You’re just stuck repeatedly doing something that’s not working.)

Avoiding your relationship patterns’ trap

Ever heard the sidewalk analogy? Your relationship pattern is like a hole in the sidewalk. At first, you just walk down the familiar sidewalk and fall right in.

You might wonder why it’s suddenly so dark and damp, pitiful, and well, kinda gross-smelling in there. But, it’s familiar. You’ve been here before. And the other person is down there in the muck with you. After slipping and sliding a bit, (or a lot) you each claw your way out of the hole, sometimes over the tops of each other.

Next time, you know the hole is there and MAYBE you find a way to go around it. But it’s like a magnetic vortex. You get scooped off your feet and fall down it again. Whoops!

Soon, however, you are recognizing the hole and you develop enough strength to resist its magnetic pull. You deliberately walk out and around it. (Cool!)

The real win comes when you recognize the sidewalk and find a different route entirely. Bonus: the alternate route not only avoids the slimy, slippery hole, it gets you where you really want to be a whole lot faster and without all the slime, stink, and muck of the hole, not to mention there’s zero clawing on the way out.

Shifting the pattern

Picking a different sidewalk requires some serious skill. Usually there are reasons that darn hole is magnetic. Most people need a map, a guide, or a coach watching from the outside who can help them see and understand the pattern, build the strength to resist its pull, and find a suitable alternate route.

Don’t do this alone. You already know falling into the hole is zero fun. There’s no need to spend extra time standing out there on the sidewalk arguing about which way to go.

I know it can be humbling to ask for directions. I know some of you even like your sidewalk. It’s familiar at least, maybe it’s comforting in some way, perhaps it pays off sometimes. (For example, when you beg for attention, sometimes you get it. When you chastise him, maybe he behaves for a bit.)

For some of you, admitting you need an outside perspective is the biggest hurdle. But you know the sidewalk you’re choosing does not lead where you want to be. You know you need directions.

Still, it can be a risk to trust someone else with your life and relationship patterns. You want your investment to pay off, not lead down another dead-end street. I get it.

You could ask any and every passer-by for directions, but a wiser approach is to get a good map. Better yet, hire a personal guide. Heck, you might even need a skilled coach to help you stay out of that hole.

I want to be that kind of effective help for you. Let’s talk and get you on a path that leads to the kind of life and relationship you really want.

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