Do you ever wait for motivation to come? I do. It’s something I’ve struggled with on and off since forever. I’ve talked about this before. In fact, it seems like it comes up in almost every blog post. I want something to change, I know what I need to do to bring about the change, and I wait for the motivation to come to take any action around it. Problem is…sometimes I have to wait a really long time for the motivation to arrive. And sometimes it never does. And sometimes, for whatever reason, I’m willing to take action even if the motivation isn’t there. This is something we talk about in recovery a lot. Willingness. And honesty. I’ve definitely come a long way from where I was ten years ago but I still have a long road ahead.
God damn though, when the motivation does come and I get going on something, I am really committed to it. Whether it’s eating better, exercising more, practicing meditation, working my program, once I’m in….I’m IN. At least until something interrupts my momentum. Then I have to start over. Waiting for motivation. Or willingness. Whichever comes first.
I think it’s fair to say that, by default, I am not a very self-disciplined person. I ate 10 Oreos in one sitting yesterday. I’m a 40-year old woman, people. I have no business eating 10 Oreos. The thing is, I have this part of me that is always wanting to improve. To be the best version of myself I can be. I like this part of me. I feel like this is more my true self. But I have this other part of me that’s like a lazy, self-indulgent Jabba the Hutt. I’d like to think this is not my true self, but some form of ego that wants to keep me separated from the world around me. Sometimes my life feels like the battleground of a tug of war between these parts of myself with me caught, frozen, in the middle. And it’s so frustrating when Jabba is pulling harder on the rope. It makes me want to hate myself. I usually choose to not hate myself (that has not always been the case). The whole point of Jabba’s tugging is for me to hate myself. That’s the fastest route to my separation from the people around me.
People can change though. I am a firm believer in that. Sometimes the opponent in my tug of war loses for good. I used to be a pretty unorganized, untidy person, and now I’m someone who can’t even eat a meal until I’ve cleaned up the mess I’ve made while preparing it. I can’t relax if there are dirty dishes in the kitchen or wadded up clothes on the floor, or overflowing recycling bins. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind and is a source of unhappiness for me. When it comes to being tidy and putting things away where they belong, I have learned that later never comes. As in “later I will feel like putting those dishes away”. I know with every fiber of my being that I will not feel like doing it later any more than I feel like doing it now. I am unable to believe this lie anymore. I used to buy it all the time. That’s why my house was cluttered and messy all the time. Because later never came.
So the question I’m proposing to myself now is how do I start recognizing and stop believing this lie when it comes to other things in my life? Like eating better and exercising and daily writing and meditation? What happened that made me not able to delude myself any longer when it comes to cleaning up my stuff? What was it that made me unable to delude myself any longer that I wasn’t an alcoholic? I don’t know! I know pain is a motivator for me. I know I was in a lot of pain when I finally admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic. I don’t remember being in a lot of pain when I started cleaning up after myself better.
My husband rides his bike to work every single day, without fail. Even when it’s three degrees outside. Even when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. Even though every day he has to climb our relentless hill to get home. To him, it’s not hard. It’s just what he does. He does not believe a lie that says, let’s wait until tomorrow. We’ll want to do it tomorrow. Tomorrow it will be easier. And perhaps those lies don’t even appear on the horizon for him. I know they would for me. Ask me if I ride my bike into town everyday. I don’t. Now, ask him why he doesn’t put a dirty dish in the dishwasher instead of leaving it in the sink (or on the coffee table in the living room), he will probably not have an answer for you. But I suspect that he must think that it will be easier to do it later. That later he’ll be motivated to do it.
What lies do you tell yourself? That deep down you know are lies, but you believe them whole heartedly anyway? Do you know what they are? Do you know that they’re lies? Is it that you have a great relationship when actually you don’t communicate, and you live like you’re roommates? Is it that you’re a great employee when you’re really just doing the bare minimum and you feel entitled to more than you receive? That you’re generous and fair, when you’re actually greedy and self serving? That you want to “help people”, when you really just want to be a hero for your own glory? That you have control over something that you are totally powerless over? Not saying these are your lies (or mine), but everyone has some lies they live by. And it’s not easy to look at them. As soon as we start, there is protest. You need not look here!
A huge part of my life in recovery is living a self-examined life. To be constantly on the lookout for my character defects and how they’re showing up in my life. Constantly being on the lookout for the lies, the self delusion, the fear and resentment. And to constantly be weeding them out. But you know how weeds are. Relentless! They’ll never stay away forever. It’s a lifelong process. And one I’m willing to keep at, especially if it means I get to stay sober and get closer to the best version of myself. It’s a simple concept. But not always easy. Some of these things really don’t want to be weeded out. They fight like hell to stay in the mix. Some of these things helped me survive for most of my life. They’re things I learned when I didn’t even realize I was learning them. Things so ingrained in me, they’re sometimes hard to recognize for what they are. Self delusion, judgement, manipulation, self pity. But my task is to keep looking. Honestly. Wholeheartedly. And the reward is that I have a better quality of life. More peace of mind. Better relationships. A sense of ease and comfort that I once was only able to find in a bottle.
I’m currently working at my longest streak ever of days meditating in a row. What it took was starting a women’s meditation group at my house and telling everyone I was going to meditate everyday until the next group. Accountability.
Still waiting on the motivation or willingness to exercise everyday. It’ll come to me. Wink wink. Until then, I’ll have to keep searching for the things within myself that are blocking me from the things I know I need in order to live a happy life. And once I weed some more of those out, then maybe I can stop waiting for motivation. Because sometimes motivation is like later. It NEVER comes. Besides, I’m tired of waiting.