When Feelings and Emotions Fail as Motivators

When Feelings and Emotions Fail as Motivators

This blog post is part of the Podcast Episode 1: Exercise, Willpower & Self-Principle.

Emotions & feelings as motivators

During one of my training sessions, I have discovered and come to understand more clearly than ever before how energy, meaning our emotions and feelings, will always fail as a point of motivation in the long run.

Positive feelings, like that desire to achieve something, usually last a lot longer than if we are in a profoundly negative experience, such as depression, rage, fury, self-judgment, laziness, and so on. 

However, in the end, if you remove the feeling-energy or the emotion-energy, we will end up feeling empty. Like that special juice that ran through our veins and made us move, act to progress, and create our goals — in our training, for example — is taken away from one moment to the next. 

In the end the outcome is the same

In the end, basing our decision to act and the actual execution of the applications that make us progress toward the direction(s) of our goals on emotional or feeling energy or imagery in our minds will fail us.

When I started to become more serious with my training, I began to look at how and where I can incorporate at least some form of martial arts training daily. 

I planned not to skip a day. Even if it’s just some form of movement for 20 or 30 minutes a day, I noticed that when I have and experience positive feelings, I would also have a raised sense of motivation and an increased spirit of ‘will’ or ‘willpower’ and of this ‘want’ and ‘desire’ to train.

Life as Ups & Downs

I am sure you can relate to this: You go through your days, you go through your life, and in the weeks and months that you go through, you will notice you have ups and downs. 

You have periods were your positive feelings, positive energy experiences you feel are more accentuated than the negative emotional ones. Then it will flip at some point like a wave changing direction from its extreme position that it reached and needs to move to the opposite extreme of its design. 

And you will have more of your negative emotions, your negative experiences, your negative energies accentuated. Whereas the positive ones are going more into the background, are less emphasized, are less intense, and thus you experience them less. They are kind of drowned out by the negative ones.

Feeling good v.s. feeling unwell and the toll on motivation

What I’ve noticed concerning the energy of motivation is that during the time where the positive feelings would be more accentuated in me, and the negative ones are more in the background, I would feel a stronger sense of motivation. 

I would feel a stronger will, desire, and drive to train or do something, like work on a project I wanted to begin or continue. 

Then during the gloomier times of my life- and self-experience where the negative emotions are more prominent — that time during which I am more in that lower mood, be it depression, anger, inner conflict, and so on — I would be more likely to skip out on taking action regarding things like my martial arts training, and the things which would progress me more in my goals.

I would give in to excuses, reasons, and justifications that would come up in my mind telling me and trying to nudge me into deciding to skip out on taking action, like to skip my training, or to do it just half-heartedly. 

The Instant-Excuse System

Funny how excuses, reasons, and justifications about not doing something that would lead to us expanding, growing, and becoming more and better in ourselves as beings and in life are so easily and readily served up by ourselves inside our minds when it comes to it. 

It’s like we don’t need to put in an exceptional effort into creating them; they are just pre-made and ready to be served. It’s like an Instant-Food system: More like an Instant-Excuse System.

Dependency on feelings to tell us what to do is an unwise thing

It is a pretty bad idea to base our motivation, our will, our drive, our decision to do something, like our training, based on how we feel in terms of our feelings and emotions in our mind, and our thoughts and the stories we tell ourselves inside our minds.

Give the power back to self

The Self, Me, You — the ‘Me’ part, the Being, must become the motivational point. We must transform to be the point to reference and consult for making the decision and taking action from there on to do what we need to do, like our training, to progress in whatever it is we wish to progress and create as ourselves. 

Thus this point of motivation, this drive, and this will to train, and to do the things we understand and know already we need to do to create something better inside ourselves and our lives, must be brought back to self, back to the Being. 

Where in a moment ‘I’ decide I’m going to train or do that something that will help me progress in whatever it is I want to achieve and create in me and my life, and I’m sticking to this decision, and I’m executing on this decision. Thus ‘Me’ deciding in a moment, on-demand that I’m going to train, for example.

I am creating at that moment the motivation for me. It must be like a snap of the fingers where in a moment I decide that I’m going to train, or do that action that I understand and know already is required to be done for me to progress and move into the direction to manifest and create that thing I wish to inside me and my life. And this decision is final. I’m driving myself to execute on it and do the required actions and invest the needed time into it.

An agreement with yourself

I found it to be exceptionally beneficial to make an agreement with myself, where I list all the reasons why I’m training and where I want to go with the training. 

What do I want to create from and through the training? 

What do I wish to attain and create from this activity or path that I am pursuing? 

This agreement then takes on a ‘holy’ status to me. It becomes sort of ‘The Agreement’ to guide myself by when needed. When I may be in a moment of weakness and caught up in, let’s say an emotional experience of laziness, judgment, depression, and so on. 

With such a self-agreement set and by my side, in any ‘random’ moment I decide I’m going to create the motivation, the will, the desire to train: I choose to practice, I make the decision that I am creating this motivation for me. I am deciding to honor the agreement I made with myself and why I’m training, and I’m sticking to this. 

I’m moving myself. I’m willing myself to do the training based on that decision, based on that agreement and honoring that agreement, that reason of why I’m training, or doing the thing I am doing in the first place.

Transforming the center of motivation

Thus, in essence, realizing that the Self must become the point of motivation. That motivation, will, desire, want, and drive to train must be brought back to self. We must not let our feeling- and emotional state rule the outcome of whether or not we are going to exercise based on how we feel — based on whether or not we have positive feelings or whether we are going through negative emotions at the moment.

Mood-Independence

Independent of the mood we experience and go through, we are training or doing those actions we see and understand we need to do to advance or start heading to the direction of our goals if we decide to do so.

Not accepting, not allowing any excuses, reasons, justifications, any experience, thought, or inner back-chat talk, which derives from that nature of an excuse, reason, justification, and resistance. The ones that are telling us that we can’t or shouldn’t do something, like our training for that day and that it’s alright to follow that impulse of our mind to not act in our best interest.

But, to stick to our decision. Where in a moment we decide to train, write, stop overeating when we sense we are physically getting full already, work on that project we planned to start or continue, and so on. 

Here we decide to create the motivation and to be that point of motivation for ourselves, as ourselves. We honor and stick to the agreement we made with ourselves.

Practicing mood-independence

During my process of exercising, I have learned exceptionally many new things about my relationship with exercising. And through that process of applying and pushing myself to do at least some training daily so that I move myself in and through the physical body, I have discovered many new dimensions to explore when it comes to exercises and motivation.

They have been especially aspects regarding the question of how I can exercise to benefit me as a being, and not only my body in developing external muscles and skills which we are mostly chasing after in modern times.

More importantly, practicing not depending on my mind emotions and feelings to motivate me to move and do something.

My relationship to exercising

I’ve gotten to learn and understand that, at least to me in this time of my life — exercising is a tool for not only building the external points or parts of self. 

Not only developing the body and its muscles, speed, agility, power, martial arts techniques, or whatever it is that is external. But that exercising, that movement in the physical itself is a tool for building the Self-Character.

Creating the character within, the ‘who I am,’ the being, the ‘Me.’ To take all these words that I discover and practice in my martial arts training, for example, strength, power, agility, and whatever I train for in the external movement of the martial arts and bring them back to self. And see where and how I can incorporate these words, characteristics into my natural life and life routine, and the words to become part of me in everyday life.

To not have those characteristics and words tied to only during the time where I do the external movements, the external exercises, but be able to live and apply the words and characteristics in any situation, in any moment of my life. 

Whenever it becomes necessary to live that word, expression, or ability — like strength, power, balance, and so on to assist and support me through an event, challenge, moment, point, and a time frame in my life.

A tool to build self-character

I see exercise now as a tool to build my self-character. Not just the ‘outer self,’ but equally so the ‘inner self.’

It brings about a point of balance of not making a workout only external body-work, but also a point of working on the internal self.

Through the outer exercise assisting and supporting the inner self to grow, expand, and emerge more, and then from developing and working on the internal, it facilitates and supports the growth, expansion, and creation of the external self, as the body again. 

So, it becomes like a Yin-Yang relationship. A ‘Give and Receive’ in this relationship of working on both the inside and outside. Working on the outside, but equally on the inside self.

Recap

Energy, the way we feel, our mind’s emotions and feelings usually fail as our motivators when we are caught up in the negative experience when we are more in the emotional part of an experience or reaction to something in our life.

The realization that the self must become that point of motivation. That point where we are creating motivation on-demand. Where we conjure up the will, desire, and drive to do something solely based on the decision that we make as beings. 

We are holding ourselves accountable to the agreement we made with ourselves in which we defined who we want to be in relationship to a part or point of our life. Be it martial arts, exercising, a sport we pursue, a career, friendships, relationships, projects, and so on. 

Thus this point of motivation, this ‘will,’ this ‘desire,’ this ‘drive’ and with it the ‘power to act’ and ensure that we do what we need to do to progress in the pursuit of our goals and don’t miss the moments of growth and creation — is in our own hands, is in Self’s own hands. It is not in the hands of emotions and feelings. 

It is not in the hands of how we feel or experience ourselves emotionally during a period or moment of our lives.

Conclusion

Exercise should not just be a tool for working out the external, the body, and building muscles, speed, power, and any other external characteristics or skills, but it should equally be training and exercising, and a support for building the character of self, the internal, the ‘Within.’ 

Strengthening both the external and internal self and transforming the training into a wholesome practice that incorporates the growth and expansion of the Internal and External Parts of Self.

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