2) Being too close to the situation
The more I learn about my depression and my own thought patterns through individual and group therapy and mental wellness seminars, the more perspective I gain. Hearing others' experiences and listening to a wide variety of advice and science about the way that brains work is helpful beyond measure.
So, earlier this week, as I was going through my usual thought pattern, trying to motivate myself to write, I recognized something about myself and my thoughts:
For me, the word "should" carries a burden of guilt and triggers negative thought patterns that transform into a block.
When I say to myself, "I should be writing," I start to feel guilt that I'm not writing. I start to think about a hundred other things I should do. I add mental weight to this act of creativity that usually sparks joy. I ask myself why I'm not writing more. I use the time I could be writing arguing with myself about whether or not it's okay that I'm not writing more. I find myself doing anything but writing, and maybe even spiraling over a cliff's edge into an identity crisis about whether or not I'm even a writer if I'm not writing.
So, what happens when I replace that "should" with a new word: "want"?
"I want to write," I say to myself.
My brain gives a longing sigh. Yes, yes, I do want this, very much, my brain confirms.
My conscious thoughts start to curl up around all the things I enjoy about writing like a big comforting hug. My desire to write grows. My motivation increases. Instead of building up barriers, I open doors. Even if I don't have the time, or there are other things that need doing first--like the dishes--I haven't added barriers or sent myself spiraling down a rabbit hole.
This little brain hack is working for me as I tackle even less-desirable things, like chores around the house. When I say, "I want to do the dishes," to myself, I affirm that, yes, I want to eat off of clean dishes with clean eating utensils. I don't want dirty dishes to attract pests. I want a kitchen where I enjoy spending time and cooking.
And, yeah, that means getting the work done, and the work itself isn't any easier or more enjoyable, but I haven't made it harder for myself, either.
Really, that's what this little brain hack comes down to: Is there a word or phrase that has become a bludgeon you use to try to motivate yourself, but these days it's all bludgeon and no motivation?
Can you think of a way to address yourself more kindly, to put that bludgeon away and give yourself a hand instead?
Tiny hinges allow massive doors to pivot open. Tiny shifts in words and thought patterns can open up new opportunities in your mind.