Stop Ordering Yourself Around

relaxed-at-work-coach-250Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mike Bundrant of iNLP.

“Do it, Mike! Just do it! Stop your whining and get off your butt!”

This is how I used to motivate myself. I carried around an inner high school football coach to bark at me whenever he thought I was slacking. The problem was, I constantly stressed myself out. Worse, half the time I “rebelled” against this inner dictator and became passive aggressive toward my own goals. How’s that for nutty?

Patterns

Actually, this is a common pattern. A “dictator” style of motivation has an undermining effect in the long run. Most people don’t like to be ordered around. In the workplace it leads to low morale and a low productivity, high-turnover workforce. Dictator-style parents tend to divide families and create harsh rivalries in the home. Ordering yourself around leads to the number one killer of personal development goals: self-sabotage.

Think about it. To your mind and body, a harsh, loud voice ordering you around is jarring, regardless of the source. You respond with stress and resistance whether from an outsider imposing his will or you imposing your will upon yourself. In the end, your brain experiences the commands in a similar fashion. Your mind places a lot less emphasis on the origin of an experience than you may think. All of us can make our mouths water just by imagining a delectable dessert. We’ve all reacted with fear to inner thoughts that had no basis in external reality. Ordering yourself around is being ordered around, period. Chances are, you don’t like it and will shut down, refusing to take any action at all.

The stress and resistance of dictatorial self-motivation is an expressway to self-sabotage. “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do!” is the common response to inappropriate commands, even when those commands are self-generated. It’s a perfect set up.

A New Way

Zen Motivation changes all this. The need to bark orders and force yourself to do things doesn’t even arise in a Zen motivation state. Motivating yourself to do things, even unpleasant things, is a normal part of living and comes quite naturally when in a more Zen-like state, connected to the present moment. Do this exercise and see what I mean.

1. Consider one thing that you need to motivate yourself to do, such as exercise, pull weeds, meet with a difficult colleague, and so forth. If you can, write down the name of the task in the middle of a piece of paper (if you have a pen and paper).

2. Become aware how you would typically motivate yourself to do this and write down (if you can) the thoughts and feelings that come next. For example, “Get it done!” or “Let’s move!” or “I just have to get this done!” or “Come on, Mike!” or (feelings, too) “Tension in chest and shoulders.” Write freely for a minute or so and don’t censor yourself.

3. Just clear your mind for a few moments. Shake it off.

4. Forget everything and enter a more present, grounded state by tuning into a mundane sound, such as the sound of distant traffic, the hum of your computer (or the white noise of a fan, refrigerator, running water, etc…). Don’t do anything else or try to relax – just tune into the sound. Keep listening for a minute or more, until you feel settled.

5. When you feel more settled, reconsider the task you need to get done. Write it down on a clean sheet of paper and notice the thoughts and feelings that come to your mind and body. Do you notice the difference? In this more calm state, what words can you choose to gently motivate yourself? How much easier is it to avoid ordering yourself around while you are feeling more settled and connected to the outside world?

For managers, the key to motivating employees rests with the quality of the relationship – how well do they treat their employees? Likewise, the key to motivating yourself is correlated with how well you treat yourself. Zen motivation allows you to motivate yourself from a more grounded, connected state. When you do, your tendency to order yourself around will vanish and your productivity will increase. Best of all, you’ll be respecting yourself more.

Mike Bundrant is an NLP trainer with the iNLP Center. Visit iNLP for a free personal development mini course and learn more about the Zen Motivation Twitter Party.

Image courtesy of phoeric.

Comments

  1. Mike,
    This was great. I teach people to access and use their intuition to make better decisions and choices in their lives. The most important part of hearing your intuition is being calm and present when you approach a decision. This is very similar and with similar results. All our negative self-talk can be very disruptive! Thanks you.

  2. What a great way to get past muscling through a task, barking orders at the mirror and shoving yourself over the hurtles along the way!

    I think that when we can get excited about something, seeing it as part of a bigger picture, even if the smaller task itself isn’t that exciting, it’s easier to tackle the thing too. Oops! There I go using the “old way” language of “tackling” tasks! 🙂

  3. I found this post fascinating and it made me think. I totally agree with your words that “for managers, the key to motivating employees rests with the quality of the relationship.” I think there is an important distinction here though. I have noticed for some tasks negative motivation, say fear, works best. Don’t overeat! Don’t smoke! For creative things I really enjoy doing like playing the violin then positive motivation works far better. Maybe this is very individual. I remember Richard Bandler describing a famous writer who is solely motivated by some imaginary devil who constantly goads him into work. Most interesting post though.

  4. Hi Mike,
    We all have different motivational strategies that work for us, and those that don’t. Someone barking at me like a drill sargeant is the quickest way to demotivate me.

    take care..

  5. I imagine that we trade self love and affection to get things done. I know I do. I’m practicing the zen motivation right now, and I find part of me pipes up saying “What are you doing? That’s not how to get something done!”

  6. Thanks so much for the post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  7. Be calm, be collected and you will focus that bit more. You will also feel more enthusiastic in the work that you do and how you apply yourself to the the job in hand.