In my latest video I tackle a topic that comes up routinely in client meetings and at classes that I teach locally: Finding Motivation. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, or said to my own silly self, "I know what to do. I just have to find the motivation to do it!"
Well, folks, let me share with you what I know about motivation and finding the willpower to change. A transcript follows the video for those who'd rather read it. Forgive my overuse of "you know."
Transcript for Finding the Will to Change
Hi, all! This is Jennifer with Prairie Hawk Botanica, and I wanted to spend a few minutes talking to you today about the limbic brain, the more primitive side to our brain. It's the part that governs your instincts, right? You know, back in the day it kept you, hopefully, from getting eaten by a cave lion, you know, or something like that. You know, if there was a movement in the grass, you know, or the bushes, it's what very quickly kicked in to help you evaluate what that noise was, and then take a physical action, if necessary, to get you out of danger. And now we tend to live lives that aren't quite so urgent, but that part of our brain is still there. And, it still kicks in.
What lead to this is that I was having a conversation with an acquaintance on the Steemit platform where I share some of my articles, videos, and photography (her original post here), and we were just kind of talking about the irony of feeling "stuck" in life. And, you know, and how some things might be good in your life, but other things just don't feel right. Your job might be unfulfilling. Your relationship is going nowhere, or what have you. Or your health! You've got health problems, you know, and you know that you're eating all the wrong things. But then, what do you do about these things? Well, nothing. You just kind of let things go.
It's really, really hard to make what we perceive to be big changes to the way that we live in our everyday lives. And we were just kind of going back and forth about, "Why on earth is that?" Why do we sabotage ourselves, you know. When we know we need to do something, we'll actually make it bad. Or, you know, we put ourselves on a diet, and then we get off the diet, or we try to make some good changes, or we start an exercise regimen, and then, we get lazy and we stop. The other thing we love to do as humans is wait, you know, wait to make a decision. And you wait and wait and wait until, finally, the opportunity is gone. And, you know, the question is, "Why on earth do we do that to ourselves?" Well, you can thank your primitive brain.
See, it's job is to keep you safe. That's its whole job is to make sure that, if you're in a dangerous situation, you get out of it, and then, hopefully, to keep you from getting into these situations in the future. And "safe" to the primitive brain is the devil that you know, if you know what I mean. It's what you're used to. So even if those things are uncomfortable, or just unfulfilling, don't make you happy, your brain will send you the message that, "Well, it's not so bad, you know. Some things are good, and at least you're okay." So, it will resist the change, that side of your brain anyway.
And the other part, interestingly, that the limbic brain controls is not just your instincts and those kinds of things, but also, your emotions. So, we know that our emotions can get hijacked, you know, in helping you to not make the changes that you need, so - and this is why it's not easy to change how you live, you know, what you eat, where you work, who you associate with, how you think. You know, all of these things are very difficult. I know. I live it just like you. You know, we're all on a journey, and we all sabotage ourselves from one time, you know, or another- at one time or another. And it's that part of your brain. You know, you're hardwired to want to have that nice, safe feeling. You know, and change is not safe. You know, change is scary.
And so you end up having to rely on the more logical side of your brain in order to think about those things that are making you unhappy, that are getting worse (your relationship, your job, whatever it is), and see if there's a workable plan to put into place, right? A better way of eating, a better way of moving, a better way of living. And if those things are sound, then you know that you really can make the change without having your worries be completely legitimate. You know, usually they're pretty unfounded, especially if you've thought it out well.
But in terms of finding the will to change, finding the motivation to do something, here's the truth. Here's what I know about finding the will to do something: You're not going to. There is no motivation out there for you to just pull out of the sky, or buy in a bottle, or something, you know, or maybe a supplement pill that you can swallow. It doesn't exist.
What has to happen is you have to step outside of your comfort zone, and begin to make those changes one step at a time, knowing that you're going to feel uncomfortable the whole way, at least until you get used to it, and both parts of your brain are assured that it's fine, and you're not in any danger. You're never going to "feel ready." You're never going to feel motivated in what you do. It's always going to be an - a scary thing, an uncomfortable thing, but you have to do it anyway. Because if you wait until you - until the pain of your present circumstances finally exceeds the pain of the change, well, things might be very far gone by that point.
I know that what I'm saying is hard, but you just have to kind of think of it from one day to the next, from one moment to the next. Every day, every moment, in fact, is an opportunity to choose better. Just that one little second when you're about to do something that keeps things just the way that they are, that's making you unhappy, just stop for a minute, and make a different choice, you know, just in that moment.
Don't choose the food that might make you feel happy now. Choose something better for your body next week, you know. Take that one step out the door. Don't think about the three miles that you were intending to walk. Just think about the first step. And then take the next one, and the next, and the next, and, soon, you're far enough away from your door that the urge to run back in there is gone, and you can keep going. It's all about those small moments, you know, just - just taking a second to stop, not do the behavior that you've been doing, that's causing you to feel "stuck" in the long run, and choosing something different, knowing that those first steps you take into the change are going to feel wildly uncomfortable, and there's no getting away from it. So, that's what I know about feeling motivated and making a big change. Just remember that in terms of feeling ready, it won't happen. You have to do it anyway. Alright, thanks!
Author: Jennifer Capestany
Jennifer is a clinical herbalist and health coach, specializing in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Her interest in plant medicine led Jennifer to spend years studying herbology, physiology, and nutrition. She works one-on-one with her clients via her herbalist and health coaching business, Prairie Hawk Botanica. Jennifer lives on a homestead in rural Texas with her husband, 2 children, and various animals. In her spare time she loves to be in her large herb and vegetable garden. Sharing herb knowledge and her love of natural healing with others is her calling.
I'm Jennifer Capestany, a clinical herbalist and freelance writer with a practice in North Texas. Helping people deal as naturally as possible with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic illness and other chronic conditions is my calling.