Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Last night I attended a parent meeting at school.

I love our charter school for many reasons, not the least of which is whenever there is an event/potluck, they ask that everyone bring their own plates, utensils and cups in order to reduce trash. I love this. I also wish I brought a larger dish to eat from, as the food was excellent.

The meeting was more of a discussion, facilitated by the school counselor. The topic was motivation. What motivates your child? What works well with various learning styles? How can we help set the atmosphere and expectations? Parents of children of all ages attended and it was great to be able to listen, discuss, commiserate and celebrate together.

Today, as I put off (again!) something that needs to get done it occurred to me to ask myself, "what motivates you?" The answer was obvious and immediate. For most of my life my motivators have been fear, shame and guilt. This doesn't feel good. It never has. I realize I procrastinate until the "shoulds" kick in and then I miserably drag myself to complete the task, fully expecting to be criticized or corrected. My inner voice is mean and harsh and tells me I deserve it because it's all my fault for not starting sooner, not doing my best, not spending my time differently, etc., etc..

I developed procrastination as a response to my uncomfortableness at not being perfect. That way I had an excuse. "Well, of course it's not perfect, I waited until the night before!" Procrastination also fed the motivators of fear, shame and guilt. I would wait until one (or all) of those feelings kicked in and would act only when I couldn't stand the heaping pile of misery that was accumulating.

I wonder what it would feel like to be motivated differently? Until today, I haven't recognized my own participation (via procrastination and mean self-talk) in the fear/shame/guilt cycle.
     ---> put off responsibilities
          ---> accumulate fear of consequences of being late or irresponsible, guilt at not being "good"
                 and starting sooner, shame at being "bad"
               ---> keep putting it off until I can't any longer
                    ---> hurry to do the work at the cost of other responsibilities
                         ---> finish the work (mostly) but feel terribly about it
                              ---> criticize myself, berate myself for not starting sooner, not doing "my best"
                                   ---> fear/shame/guilt cycle continues

This applies to me for everything from cleaning my toilets to doing work that I like and signed up for! Now that I'm aware I am free to choose differently! I can speak kindly to myself, with encouragement.

As I've healed and gradually become more whole through counseling, therapy, medication, codependents anonymous, and lots of self-care I've experienced a little of what it's like to be motivated by love and relationship and the sheer joy of doing something I love for the sake of the pleasure it brings me!

It feels so much better.

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