I went down a small rabbit hole of motivational videos last night. I was looking for something to listen to in the background as I was starting to do some uninteresting work.
I came across quite a few videos labelled as “motivational” so I checked them out.
They did not sit well with me.
They were overridden with very masculine messages –
Just do it
Do not rest until you get whatever you are working towards.
Force yourself to adhere to a schedule.
Get ready – it’s warrior time!
No days off.
All of these messages are ruthless ultimatums. They fit under an antiquated, masculine, authoritarian version of motivation.
Motivation should not be offered with an at-all-costs mentality. That isn’t healthy, sustainable or effective.
I much prefer the kind of motivation that we would give to children. The motivation and encouragement one would receive from their loved one as they were trying something new, scary or challenging.
Motivation can be gentle, sympathetic and encouraging while be effective! Authoritarian motivation is only necessary because we are either doing something that we don’t want to do or that we are scared to do.
Pushing through gets the job done. Just like pushing through a labor and delivery gets a birth to the finish line.
But what are the consequences of that?
Do we emerge having “succeeded” but also having inflicted trauma on ourselves or others in the process?
Do we “finish” only to never want to do it again?
Do we force our way through using our “strength” only to have weakened our trust in our instincts?
Let’s do motivation another way. Let’s understand the core of what is preventing progress and work through that angle. Just like in labor, let’s pause, evaluate and then take the measures that the situation calls for.
May motivational words and support be more affirmative statements, and may those who seek them never feel bullied, coerced or forced.