How do you motivate yourself to do what you don’t “want” to do?

Life isn’t nearly as terrifying or exhausting as it was 8 months ago. For those reasons alone, I’m eternally grateful. I’m incorporating a new practice into my journal habit. I’m including a daily goal and 3 positive affirmations each day, not necessarily of the “I am worthy” or “I deserve to be happy” variety, though those are perfectly acceptable if I honestly “feel” them to be true for any given day, but more so the positive moments from each day that bring me joy or things for which I’m grateful. I lost that somewhere along the way. I’ll include those here whenever I have the opportunity to write.

I came up with 5 for yesterday rather than just 3.

  • #1 I am so thankful I found CEASE (a domestic violence and sexual assault support center in the Hamblen county region of TN). I contacted them about 3 weeks ago. After a long phone conversation with a victims advocate there, I met with her yesterday for the first time. She’s the one who told me to create a “Pros and Cons” list of all the positive and negative aspects of mine and KR’s relationship. The cons far outweighed the pros, by the way. She also suggested the journal addition of “positivity” in the manner I described. It feels good to finally be able to talk about everything so freely with another woman. We “clicked,” and that’s a good thing.
  • #2 I’m thankful for Al Anon. I never thought I would say that about any 12 Step program, but this particular group of individuals is far more accepting and non-judgmental. I don’t feel the pressure to conform to the spiritual aspects of the program as I did in prior 12 Step groups. Yesterday’s meeting only solidified my “surrender,” I suppose is the best way to put it, as the discussion was one of the most intellectually stimulating yet emotionally validating experiences I’ve had in this program. These are good-hearted, thoughtful people who I look forward to seeing each week. Even if I don’t say a word, my take-away from these meetings is great; and I’m so grateful for each and every person there for their unconditional understanding.
  • #3 I stopped by Music Outlet in Sevierville (something I wanted to do for a while now). I got to play a Roland electric piano for a few minutes. I should probably add to this one that I committed myself to learning how to play the acoustic guitar I bought 10 months ago. For the last 2 weeks, I’ve successfully practiced daily; and I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process.
  • #4 I’m thankful for talking with a friend from rehab last night. Unfortunately, she relapsed and is still drinking. She was one of my favorite people from New Leaf, so my heart goes out to her. I’m thankful for the talk because she’s a reminder to me that sobriety is freakin’ hard and to never take my success (or failures, for that matter) for granted.
  • #5 I’m grateful I’m sober, 320 days, now.

With all of that being said, I want to delve into where I’m actually struggling at this time and pose a question for (hopefully) some feedback. There are no less than 3 areas of my life where I struggle more than any other: employment, food, and relationships. Why? Why don’t I -want- to deal with these things?

Employment is complicated. The obvious reason I struggle so much to keep a job is that I associate being employed with being raped, being stalked, harrassed, sexually assaulted, and otherwise touched in ways I didn’t ask for because ALL of those things have happened to me at one job or another. There’s also the factor of time and the excruciatingly long, time-consuming process of coping with my overwhelm and over-stimulation from daily struggles, let alone the additional stress of a job. Also, working full-time, or even part-time, leaves me very little time for practicing all of my creative talents, especially when I come home from work so physically and mentally exhausted. The problem of finding a good job that’s a good fit for me — that keeps me creatively and intellectually stimulated yet works well with my mental health issues and sensory problems rather than against them — and that pays enough to survive is the crux of the matter.

Food is a power struggle, control issue — one that came up in every single relationship I’ve ever had, including that with my parents and that with myself. The over-the-top power struggle with KR over food and his shows of aggression related to food preparation only made this issue much worse than it has ever been, save for ’97 — ’98. Food, also, is a time-consuming process; so the above reasons related to time also apply here. Lastly, I’ll be the first to admit, when it comes to food, I’m just freakin’ lazy, hating every minute of the food preparation, eating, and clean-up process. That’s the main reason why I refuse to work in the “food” industry. It’s literally a contemptable disgust, a revulsion that only applies to one other area of my life — sex. (Sex is not an issue at this time because I’m not having it, haven’t had it since September, and I don’t miss it — AT ALL.)

Then, there’s relationships. My problems relating to other people began in early childhood. That much is obvious to me given my behavior, personality, and early struggles to work out other people’s motives and actions as well as to communicate my needs and wants to others. That hasn’t really changed much in 46 years. Now, I have the added baggage of trust and abandonment issues that prevent me from forming secure attachments to other people or any close connection that allows me to maintain a relationship with either family, friends, or a more intimate relationship with a significant other. Too many times in my life I’ve been taken advantage of, victimized and traumatized by the actions and behavior of other people who, whether consciously or not, meant to harm me. Once, I was far too trusting for my own good. I could only see the “good” in other people. Like a dog who’s been kicked enough times, though, I fail to see how that “faith” in humanity ever did me any good. As a result, I’m cautious to a fault, I would rather isolate than interact, and the social anxiety I feel often borders, if not surpasses, paranoid delusion of other people’s ill intent.

I know my reasons “why” I don’t want to do these things. My biggest question at this time is: “How” do I make myself “want” to do these things — get a job and keep it, cook “healthy” meals for myself, connect with other people — to motivate myself to actually accomplish these goals? How do you motivate yourself to do something you don’t want to do?

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