Have you ever felt unmotivated? I’m not talking about being lazy or simply not wanting to work but feeling unmoved to do so. For example, as a writer, there are days when I’ve got so many ideas just bursting at the tip of my tongue, but when I sit down to write, suddenly nothing comes to me. I can’t find the words and the more I search the cave of my mind, the louder the silence becomes. I begin to feel unmotivated and take it as a personal disappointment, like I’m not taking advantage of my time and wasting it. More than unmotivated, I feel discouraged, and feeling discouragement brings forward other negative thoughts.
Have you ever noticed how one negative thought can multiply and instantly become ten? The more you entertain the negativity, the hopelessness, the discouragement, the more those thoughts lead to other worse ones and so on. Pretty soon they’re piling up on you and you can’t breathe. They bring you down and you find yourself not wanting to do anything anymore except dwell in feeling low.
This is something that happens often to me. I am a perfectionist and worse, a tough critic on myself. No one could ever be harder on me than I am on myself. When I start to feel like that, I take a step back and assess my situation with a practical mind instead of an emotional one. Here are some steps I take to switch tactics and stop my pattern of negative thoughts.
Change your negative to positive. When you entertain negative thoughts about yourself or negativity in general, it becomes a habit. That habit becomes a pattern that your brain holds onto and plays over, and over like a record on a loop. The first thing to do is to break that pattern. I know, easier said than done, right? However, it is possible to break a bad habit if you will train your brain to think positive thoughts. When I was younger, my mom used to hang bible verses and nice notes such as “you are beautiful,” on the bathroom mirrors of our house. During college and after graduation, I would leave notes all over my desk with words of encouragement or favorite quotes that inspired me. It sounds like a small thing, but small things build up and after days of reading “you are braver than you think,” your mindset begins to change. You start to think, “hey, maybe I am,” and begin to change from a negative mentality to a positive one. Whether it’s a physical note or mentally speaking to yourself, positive and kind words of affirmation can start to change the way you view your negative situation.
Think of the big picture. What do I mean by this? I like to think of the bigger picture of the world. In comparison to third world countries, starving children, women fighting for education, people struggling for clean water, etc, does my problem compare on such a grand scale? I’m not saying that my problem doesn’t matter because everyone’s problems are worthy of attention and important to the person feeling them. What I’m saying is to step out of your head for a second and look at the scope of the situation in context to your entire life and the life of others. Is it a life or death situation? Does this problem stop you from living your life and is it so horrible that all the other great things in your life fade away because of it? The answer is almost always no. It makes me realize that its just a bad day, not a bad life.
Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone has days like these, everyone feels down and blames themselves. It’s just a natural part of being a human. The important thing is to understand that it’s okay and you don’t suck. You’re just having a slow day, like everyone else does, so take a step back to breathe, and try again tomorrow.
Take a break. Although this goes against my nature and makes me feel lazy, sometimes taking a break from what you’re doing is necessary to calm the mind. Mental health is important and over-stressing about a situation won’t help change it. Often, it only agitates the problem and makes it worse. Take a break and do something that you enjoy, whether it is listening to music, taking a walk outside, or a side hobby, do something that makes you feel relaxed/happy for a while, and then return to your previous dilemma. Sometimes coming back to a previous problem with a fresh mind and attitude can help you figure out something you missed before or give you a new focus that you were lacking before.
Surrender to God. The last and most important step on the list. There are so many bible verses to help with anxiety and stress, but it all boils down to this- God loves you. God’s love is greater than your failure, than your anxiety, than your pain, and there is nothing he cannot overcome if you will continue to trust in him, to trust in him wholeheartedly. Put your faith in his hands, remember that the Lord has a plan for your life, a good plan, and there is nothing you cannot face if you truly believe that. Psalms 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” When you feel anxious, restless, remember that you are not alone, that God is with you, and that there are millions in the world who feel exactly the same way you do. We all collectively go through the same universal emotions separately, causing there to be both solidarity and isolation. Don’t worry, everything will work itself out, you just have to breathe and trust. God doesn’t want you to worry about anything or waste your days feeling stressed, but instead to enjoy every moment of your life. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” -Matthew 6:34.