Determination Vs Motivation

I took a walk this morning after I dropped my son off at school. Dropping my son off at school was okay. Getting myself to take a walk and now sitting down to make a blog entry is much more difficult.

Apparently, one of the things that a thyroid condition (Hypothyroid / Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) entails is a lack of motivation. This is something I can definitely attest to. There are long stretches of time (weeks, months, even years) when I haven’t felt any motivation towards anything. Add on the effects of CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) and it’s a wonder I can get out of bed in the morning.

This may sound strange to someone who’s never experienced these things. I would agree, it certainly is strange. But the thing to keep in mind is the question of where motivation comes from. The part of my body which generates motivation is damaged. The part of my mind which would think about and invoke a desire or motivation towards any given thing has been damaged as well. To be truly traumatized, immediate survival is the only motivation and goal. To live in a state of “fight or flight” for an extended period of time of years or decades physically alters the structure and function of the brain in a very negative way. There’s plenty of research and videos out there which describe this far better than I could.

What I’m coming to find is that I really can’t rely on motivation for anything. At those times when I do experience it, fine. Such experiences are fleeting and fragile. After a lifetime of trying, I know all too well that I can’t rely on it and need to find something else if I’m able to function at all.

So far, the answer seems to be that I need to rely on determination, rather than motivation. Determination doesn’t depend on emotion. It’s a commitment to something even when negative emotions – emotional “resistance” – are intense. Of course, this is much easier said than done and there are many times when trying to use determination has no effect at all. There are still many times when I just need to go into a sort of defensive retreat and just try to get through the day. There remain times and days when I just can’t function; The pain is too intense; the given situation is too overwhelming; my illness makes any effort too exhausting; and on and on and on.

So using determination is not a guarantee or a cure all. Having thyroid disease and CPTSD is about managing symptoms as best as I can, not ignoring them and using something like determination to “just get over it and get on with it.” I do the best I can with what I have to work with at any given time. One difficulty is not belittling and shaming myself when I’m legitimately just not able to function. I can’t predict what a given day will bring, so there is no consistency or routine I can rely on. This unpredictability and inconsistency is an added source of disorientation and frustration.

The challenge is that it all just is what it is.

The positive thing about utilizing determination over motivation is that determination is something I have control over. I can’t force myself to like something or feel motivated by something. Motivation doesn’t work that way. I can, however, choose to make use of determination in making an effort. I can be conscious and mindful, deliberate in my effort. If I don’t have the energy or mental / emotional resources to push forward, then I can do what I can to care for myself, to be good to myself, to account for the reality of my situation.

This is something I’m trying to learn: I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

There are times when just getting through the day, by whatever terms, is enough of a victory.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

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One thought on “Determination Vs Motivation

  1. “This is something I’m trying to learn: I do the best I can with what I have to work with.” I love this. I need to remember this for myself as well. Thank you! 🙂

    Like

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