Getting over the slump – what is demotivation and how can we combat it?

I can’t? I can!

What is demotivation?

Every so often, a feeling that I can only describe as demotivation creeps up on me. It is a slow burn, in the background for a while, before it finally makes itself known, and how I have been feeling begins to make more sense.

The last time I experienced this was just before Christmas. That time of year is always challenging for me. I find the demands on my time to be so varied that I feel frustrated at just how much I need to achieve with a very strict deadline. Suddenly, little jobs that have been rolling over on my to-do list become more urgent as the holiday period looms large.

This is in no small part the result of having a young family to entertain. Christmas should be magical and special for our children, and I don’t begrudge them that. However, there is a lot that goes on behind the magic to make it happen. I can’t help but feel that the Christmas period, that at one time was a couple of weeks, max, now starts sometime after Halloween and gradually builds momentum until we hit the big day itself.

My demotivation makes itself known when I decide that as I have so much to achieve, and not enough time to do it in, that I might as well not bother. I down tools, time slips away from me. Instead of being proactive, I become almost sedentary. I meet all my commitments, but anything beyond that seems insurmountable. The little ‘extras’ that make up the holiday period feel like too much.

“Demotivation functions for me as a protective mechanism”

Understanding your demotivation

As you can see from what I have written above, I just have too much to do. That is the crux of the issue. Lots of stuff, not enough time. Demotivation functions for me as a protective mechanism. I am nearing overwhelm, and in order to prevent this, I shut down. My brain is making it clear to me that I need a break, that it is too much.

A bit of short-term demotivation sounds like a good thing. Slow down, recover, and when you are ready, get back up to speed. But what do we do when our demotivation feels more bedded in, like it isn’t a temporary issue? How do we combat something that feels never ending?

What can I do when I feel demotivated?

Trying to understand better where the demotivation is coming from is a good place to start. Is it, as it was for me, a way of protecting myself from a life situation that is out of control and becoming a threat to my well-being? Work stress, family stress, these are both things that would fit this analysis.

Or is it something different? Is it coming from a place of negative self-view? Is there a voice telling you not to bother because you will just do it wrong anyway? If this is the message you receive when you examine your demotivation, understanding how your self-view came to be this way is a really powerful way of taking the first step towards change. It is your own voice you hear, or does it sound like someone else’s voice, someone who has influenced how you view yourself?

It would be remiss of me as a therapist if I didn’t say that taking part in counselling is one really big way in which this issue can be tackled. However, taking the time to reflect in any way that feels good to you can also help. Becoming more conscious of the messages we are receiving from our body, more conscious of our patterns of thought, of the voice that we hear, is the first step. This can be achieved through a mindfulness practice, or through writing. It can even be achieved through taking some time to just sit, and be still, with no distractions. When was the last time you just sat with your thoughts and had a good listen? It is something that many of us find hard to do on a regular basis, because, well, life happens.

How can counselling help?

The beauty of taking this issue into a therapeutic space with a counsellor, is that it is protected time. It is an hour that is just for you to focus on your needs. Your counsellor can work with you to better understand the origin of your demotivation, or any other issue you may be facing, such as anxiety. Knowledge is power, and gathering knowledge about yourself gives you that power.

If anything I have written about resonates with you, please take some time for yourself to think about your next step. If you think that step might be to enter into counselling, please do get in touch with me, I would love to hear from you.