Take a Break
When You’ve Lost Your Motivation
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When you want to change your drinking habit, motivation is very helpful. However, relying on it to keep you on track isn’t realistic.
At some point, you won’t want to say no anymore and the feeling of motivation will be gone.
In this episode, learn how to change your drinking habit without relying on motivation, and the trick to generating motivation with your thoughts.
What You’ll Discover
Why staying motivated to change your drinking is so hard.
How to generate motivation when you feel like drinking.
What you miss out on when you decide to start your break over.
Featured on the show
You are listening to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart, Episode 316.
Whether you want to drink less or stop drinking, this podcast will help you change the habit from the inside out. We’re challenging conventional wisdom about why people drink and why it can be hard to resist temptation. No labels, no judgment, just practical tools to take control of your desire and stop worrying about your drinking. Now, here’s your host, Rachel Hart.
Hey, everybody, welcome back. We’re talking about motivation today. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot with people that I am working with inside the Take a Break membership. One of the things that I really want people to learn is the skill: How do I keep motivation going, even when things are not unfolding the way that I want them to? This is huge.
Because what happens for so many of us, we try to change our drinking, and we start out with a lot of motivation. We are really determined; we have a lot of good reasons for why we want to do this work. And then, maybe we get some success under our belt. Maybe after day one, we slip up. But at some point, it doesn’t matter if it’s day one, doesn’t matter if it’s day 100, at some point, you are going to have a moment where you give in.
Maybe where you’re sick of saying no. Maybe you tell yourself I don’t feel like being good anymore. And then what do you do in those moments? How do you stay motivated? I think, a lot of times, what happens is we fall into this trap of, well, I should just know better. Even though we have these thoughts of, “I’m sick of saying no. I don’t want to restrict myself. I don’t want to limit myself to one drink. I’m tired of being good all the time. I’m tired of having to think about this.”
So, we fall into the trap of telling ourselves that we should know better or believing that motivation has just left us. And one of the most powerful things I think about the think-feel-act cycle is that I now understand that motivation is not something that just happens to me. This is what I thought for the longest time. Sometimes I felt motivated, and sometimes I didn’t feel motivated.
I didn’t really understand why because I didn’t understand the idea that how I was feeling, whether or not I was motivated or unmotivated, didn’t just happen to me. It wasn’t the result of whether or not I had been earning all the gold stars or slipping up. I didn’t understand that it was a product of what I was thinking.
Once you have the think-feel-act cycle, once you have that framework, all of a sudden, you start to see motivation is something that I can generate. If I’m feeling unmotivated, I don’t have to look at what happened. I just have to pay attention to my thoughts.
But I will tell you this, in the moments when you’re just like, “No, I’m not feeling it. This is not working. I keep saying that I’m not going to drink tonight, and then I keep ending up at the liquor store. I keep telling myself that I’m only going to have one; I’m going to be good. And then I polish off the bottle.” In those moments, it can feel very tricky to figure out how to stay motivated. And your ability to develop this skill…
Because it is a skill, that’s a really important piece of this puzzle. So often, I think what happens is we turn motivation into a character trait. And so, we think that there are people out there who are just very driven, and they’re super focused, and they never give up. We see it as kind of baked into our DNA.
And so, when we are struggling to access motivation, it’s just like, “Well, I don’t know, maybe I’m just not that motivated. Maybe it’s just not who I am. I’m just not a very driven person. I just give up really easily.” I know I fell into that trap quite a bit.
But what I want you to think about when you’re feeling unmotivated, when you’re doing the work to change your relationship with alcohol, you’re trying to learn how to drink less, you’re taking a break. Maybe you want to remove alcohol from your life entirely. When you’re doing this work, and you feel unmotivated, I want you to ask yourself, why? Why am I not willing to keep going?
Asking and answering this question is so important. What happens, what you will usually hear, is some sort of version of, well, because I just don’t want to do this anymore, or it’s too hard. I don’t feel like it. I can’t do it; it won’t work. I’ve proven that I can’t do it.
So, instead of then trying to push these thoughts away, right? So often, we think, “Oh, God, no, but I’m feeling so unmotivated. And then I ask myself why. And then I had all these terrible thoughts. And now I just need to push them out of my mind.”
I don’t want you to do that. What I want you to do is take that answer to the question, why am I unwilling to keep going? And then ask yourself, okay, so then what do I do next? Because the reason that I am feeling unmotivated is not because of everything that has happened. It’s not because I broke my commitment. It’s not because of how much I drank last night or last weekend.
The reason I’m feeling unmotivated is because of how I am answering this question. I don’t want to; it’s too hard. I can’t do it. It won’t work. When you start to see that it’s the thought that leads to you feeling unmotivated, your next place to ask yourself is, so then what happens? What do I do? What don’t I do? What are my actions?
I was talking about this recently with someone who is doing the work inside Take a Break. So, one of the things that I have people do is I have people do a 30-Day Challenge. You get to decide when you want to start it. You actually get to decide what you want your challenge to be. You can really create the challenge to be anything that you want.
But it’s important that you do challenge yourself. And so, I was asking someone recently who was just so frustrated; they were on day nine or something. And they were really frustrated, and they wanted to know, “Okay, so should I just start over?”
What I was saying to them is, that actually is part of the problem. When your action, in that moment, is to say to yourself, “I should just start over. I should reset the clock,” you miss out on the opportunity to understand what happened. Why did you break your commitment? Why did you slip up? Why are you telling yourself that you don’t want to be “good” anymore?
You miss the opportunity to really understand how the habit works. Because you cannot create the result that you want. You cannot change your relationship with alcohol, whatever that means for you. You can’t do it unless your actions are supporting that.
And so often, what we find is that when we’re feeling unmotivated, we just kind of throw in the towel. But again, feeling unmotivated is not because of what happened last night or last weekend, or last month. We’re feeling unmotivated because of our answer to this question; why don’t you want to keep going? Why don’t you want to continue this work? Why don’t you want to continue with the challenge?
Once you have that answer, you now have awareness that you can start to respond to differently. That awareness really is just a whole list of excuses. And what you need is not to delete those excuses from your brain. What you actually need to do is teach yourself the skill of crafting a believable response.
I think what happens, what happened for me, is I would encounter these moments, these excuses, these sentences of, “I just don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to limit myself. I’m sick and tired of this. It’s not working. I can’t do it.” These were all excuses.
Because, of course, the more that I believed them, the more that I ended up giving my lower brain a reward, the more that I ended up drinking. And I made the presence of these excuses mean that I had lost all my motivation. But that’s never the case. Your motivation hasn’t gone anywhere. You still have it.
What you’re missing in that moment is, okay, here I have all these excuses that my brain has practiced over and over, and rewarding over and over, by drinking, by believing the excuse. So, how am I going to come up with a believable response?
What happens so often is that we don’t think about responding to our excuses in a believable way. We think that we’re becoming a drill sergeant with ourselves. And so, we often kind of, if we’re not believing the excuse, want to go straight into the territory of, oh, just suck it up, just do it, stop complaining.
But I really believe that when you encounter your excuses, your excuses to quit, to give in, to throw in the towel, instead of turning into a drill sergeant with yourself, the solution is really just starting with an acknowledgment. Acknowledging that the excuse is there, and that doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong. It doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all motivation. It doesn’t mean that you’re never going to figure this out.
It starts with an acknowledgment, “Yeah, of course, you don’t want to say no. Not wanting to limit yourself is normal. And yeah, trying to be good and follow rules all the time, it is really tiring.” Acknowledging where you are and then following up with something else that is also true.
Notice how I’m not going right to “Just suck it up. Just do it. Just stop complaining.” If that works for you, great. What I have found in my life is that could temporarily work for me, but then I started rebelling against that. Then I started feeling like I was at war with myself. So, I could kind of get myself to comply, sometimes, for a little bit. But then, I didn’t like that I had this drill sergeant inside of me; it didn’t feel very good.
So, starting out with that acknowledgment of, “Yeah, this is okay. It’s okay that you’re telling yourself, I can’t, and it’s too hard. And it’s not going to work for me. And I don’t feel like it, and I don’t want to. And limiting myself or putting restrictions on myself sucks. It’s okay that I’m saying all of that. And what else is also true?” I love that formulation.
Yes, and. I can acknowledge that excuse, and then I can find something else that is also true. Of course, you don’t want to say no. And I know that doing this work and learning how to drink less is important to me for the following reasons. Not wanting to limit yourself is normal, and being ruled by my cravings doesn’t feel good either. Yeah, being good all the time is tiring, and you know what? Worrying about my drinking all the time, it’s also exhausting.
Just think about how different that is. To respond to yourself with an acknowledgment and then finding something else that is also true. Because so often, what happens when we have that excuse bubble up, “I don’t want to. I’m sick and tired of doing this work. I don’t want to have to put restrictions on myself. I don’t believe that I can change.”
When that excuse bubbles up, we slip into this kind of all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking as if that’s the only truth that exists. But if we can just ask ourselves, “Okay, and what else is also true?” All of a sudden, you’re learning how to respond to an excuse, you’re learning how to create motivation, in a totally different way.
It’s not about forcing yourself. It’s not about issuing a command or an order. It’s not about being this person who just never doubts, or never feels defeated, or never has an excuse, and you’re just only super driven and super focused.
No, all of a sudden, you’re teaching your brain just a different way to start to create motivation. And you start to see, “Oh, excuses aren’t actually a sign that I’ve lost my motivation. They’re a cue for me to practice a new way of showing up with myself. A new way of responding to this thought.”
What that means is that you don’t have to go about trying to change your relationship with alcohol, just cross your fingers and pray that you never have an excuse pop up. You never have that moment where you think to yourself, “I’m sick of this. I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s too hard. I don’t feel like it. I can’t do it. It won’t work anyway.”
You don’t have to cross your fingers and hope that this moment never happens. Because now you know, hey, these excuses, they’re my cue to practice a new way of responding. They’re my cue to stop telling myself that I’ve lost all motivation and start figuring out how do I continue to generate it? Even in the face of all of these beliefs that it’s too hard, and I don’t want to. What else can I find that is also true without turning it into a command or an order?
So, I really do want you to try this. I don’t want you to make the excuses that cross your mind, I don’t want you to make it mean that you’ve lost all motivation. I want you to make it mean, “Oh, this is my moment to practice something different.”
Because if you’re going to change your drinking, which you have the ability to do. You have the ability to change your relationship with alcohol. You have the ability to change your desire and to desire it less and to feel more in control. But in order to do that, you don’t need oodles and oodles of willpower. You don’t need to make sure that you’re never around that person who you always end up drinking too much with.
All you need to do is focus on what are the skills that I need to practice in this formulation? Yes, and. Yes, acknowledging that you, having this belief, this excuse, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. And what else is also true?
Yes, I know you don’t want to, and following through when you don’t want to do something is how you rewire your brain. Yes, I know this is hard right now. And avoiding hard things only makes them harder. Yes, I know you’re afraid that this won’t work and that you failed too many times. And it’s possible that all I’m missing is a skill.
Start thinking about motivation in a new way. Reframe that for you. Reframe the idea of what creates it and where it comes from, and what you need in order to stay motivated. And you will be able to change the habits so much faster.
Alright, that’s it for today. I’ll see you next week.
Okay, listen up. Changing your drinking is so much easier than you think. Whether you want to drink less or not at all, you don’t need more rules or willpower. You need a logical framework that helps you understand and, more importantly, change the habit from the inside out.
It starts with my 30-Day Challenge. Besides the obvious health benefits, taking a break from drinking is the fastest way to figure out what’s really behind your desire. This radically different approach helps you succeed by dropping the perfectionism and judgment that blocks change.
Decide what works best for you when it comes to drinking. Discover how to trust yourself and feel truly empowered to take it or leave it. Head on over to www.RachelHart.com/join and start your transformation today.