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Mental Health, Personal Development, Psychology, Self

The Negative Motivation Patterns That are Holding You Back

Although we think of motivation as a positive thing, it has a dark side too. There exists in life certain patterns which operate as negative motivation. These are overwhelming or adverse factors which drive us to behave or react in ways which undermine our ultimate goals or happiness. In order for us to thrive and succeed on our own terms, we have to identify these patterns and undo them once and for all.

Consider your track record. Does your need for perfection ruin a lot of the tasks you set for yourself? Do you constantly thwart your own happiness by jumping to conclusions, or allowing your fear of failure prevent you from making moves at all? By identifying your negative motivation patterns, you can replace them with more realistic outlooks and expectations for yourself. Build a base of self-esteem and know that you are capable of achieving happiness and fulfillment.

Not all motivation is healthy.

Motivation isn’t something which only comes from good or positive sources. Believe it or not, we can be negatively motivated too. These negative motivations come from different places and the various lessons we learn throughout life and our relationships. Primarily, they revolve around the theme of loss, low self-esteem, and the fear of losing those you value most.Moving beyond these negative motivators allows us to achieve greater success for ourselves and our families.

Think of your negative motivation factors as “anti-motivation”. Rather than moving you toward the actions and behaviors you need to adopt, they move you in the opposite direction. You don’t get inspired to stand up for yourself or apply for that big promotion. Instead, you become frozen by fear or sabotage yourself by running away from the right opportunities.

We have to rid ourselves of these anti-motivation patterns in order to build happy and sustainable futures. This requires that we get proactive, but it primarily requires that we re-shape the way in which we view ourselves and our lives as a total package. We deserve to be happy and abundant, but that’s only going to happen when we take responsibility for the quality of life that we’re leading.

The negative motivation patterns you’ve got to drop.

You have to stop allowing your need for perfection and your fear of failure to hold you back. Building happiness is a task that only you can accomplish, but that won’t happen until you let go of the negative motivation factors that prevent you from taking the action you need to take.

A need for perfection

Are you a consummate perfectionist? Do you have to do everything perfectly, or else you avoid doing it at all? This need for perfection will hold you back from both opportunity and happiness. It slows your pace and keeps you frozen with fear, rather than bravely taking action in the name of your goals — however they may turn out.

Fear of success

Believe it or not, there are those out there who fear their own success. This fear comes from many places. Some learned that the attention brought by doing well wasn’t “safe”. To others, the act of gaining success is an affront to their low self-esteem. We have to believe in ourselves and our right to happiness not only to achieve success, but to want it.

Resentment or coercion

Have you ever been moved to act out of resentment? What about coercion? What were the results? When we take action out of anger, or out of a need for revenge, it usually backfires and removes us from our integrity and values. Likewise, acting out of being coerced is also negative and feeds into the sense of resentment that we already feel.

Feeling guilty

What happens when you do something for yourself? Or do it well? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel like you don’t have a right to be happy or thriving? This is often related to a low sense of self-esteem. What in your past has taught you that you don’t deserve fulfillment? We are all worthy of love and success, but we have to believe that in order to make it happy.

Imagining failure

A lot of people out there never get started moving toward their dreams because they are too afraid of never reaching them. Fear of failure is one of the biggest forms of negative motivation we can confront. It inspires us to stay small. It keeps us from achieving our dreams. We have to embrace the fact that everyone fails, and that this failure is a part of our learning journey.

Seeing hopelessness

Are you stuck in a cycle of hopelessness? Do you believe that nothing you do will make a difference to your happiness or quality of life? These negative emotions will force you to develop negative beliefs which keep you small and detached from happiness. You can make a difference in your life and you can completely change who you are and what you are capable of achieving. You have to shed your hopelessness first, though.

Investing in overwhelm

Overwhelm occurs when we magnify a task so much that it becomes something we can no longer manage. You build things up in your mind, or attach such a sense of over-importance that acting becomes the scariest thing you can imagine. You get frazzled and then overwhelmed, which again causes you to freeze up, and prevents you from acting.

Jumping to conclusions

Do you have a tendency to jump to conclusions before you have all the information? If failure looks like a possibility, do you stop in your tracks and give up altogether? This is yet another form of negative motivation which drives us off course and into the arms of our own destruction. Instead of assuming we know it all, we have to keep fighting until it’s clear where the line of success lies.


Self-annihilation occurs when we sabotage our lives (or our happiness) out of a low sense of self-esteem or worth. It’s not acting on opportunities that you know will bring you what you want. It’s turning down people and experiences that you love because you hate yourself so much that you can’t tolerate the idea of seeing yourself thrive. Think of it a bit like sacrificing yourself not out of love, but out of self-loathing.

How to develop healthier motivation patterns.

Letting go of your negative motivation patterns is only the first step toward happiness. In order for you to keep moving in the right direction, you need to relearn how to push yourself, and you need to replace your old motivations with newer, more positive ones.

1. Learn to test your assumptions

Are you someone who regularly jumps to conclusions? Or are you someone who gives up before you even try? These types of negative motivations come from a place of assumption. You assume you know what’s going to happen, so you quit or fail to even start at all. Rather than assuming we know how fate will turn, we have to learn how to test our assumptions and base our belief in reality.

When you start to feel the pressure creeping up, take a step back and ground yourself in reality. You can’t predict the future, but you can take calculated risks based on reality and honesty. Don’t assume. Always question your beliefs and compare them to what’s actually happening around you.

Know that assumptions aren’t always rooted in the truth. Sometimes the things we come to believe as real are actually based in our erroneous fears and toxic beliefs. Always question where your assumptions are coming from. Are you jumping to conclusions based on former experiences? Or are you looking at the situation logically and with the knowledge that you have the right to be happy?

2. Change the way you talk to self

The way we speak to ourselves often makes all the difference in whether we stay motivated to get what we want. We are the voice we listen to all day long. If you whisper horrible things to yourself, you’re going to start to believe them. We can’t hold on to these negative beliefs if we’re ever going to be truly happy. They have to be released and replaced with a positive inner narrative which empowers us to succeed.

Change the way you talk to yourself. Listen to that inner voice and all the things it tells you when you set out to change who you are, or how your environment affects you. Do you talk yourself down or belittle your dreams? Does your sense of hopelessness come from a deeper sense of self-loathing?

We thrive and we succeed when we are loved deeply and without condition. This love comes best (and primarily) from self. After all, it’s impossible to see that love in others until we can give it yourselves. Love yourself. Comfort yourself. Encourage yourself and tell that inner success that you are capable and skilled enough to achieve anything you want in this world. Be your own best cheerleader and you will never lack positive motivation.

3. Start small and work your way up

When we make the commitment to change or take action, we often take on this belief that it all has to be done at once. We overload ourselves with tasks, to-dos, and an endless list of additional responsibilities which only invites more pressure and chaos into our lives. In order to avoid calamity, it’s important that we focus on starting small and working our way up.

If you’ve made the commitment to take action, that’s great. Don’t lose that positive motivation. Hold on to it by planning efficiently and giving yourself the greatest chance of success. Find the smallest and simplest way you can take action first. Then build up from there.

By looking for the smallest actions we can take first, we build up our confidence and sense of reassurance. The easiest stuff requires the least of us, and we are far more likely to complete these tasks successfully. Once we get a few “wins” under our belt, it increases our courage and inspires us to take even greater steps towards our destiny and our authentic, purposeful joy.

4. Always give yourself a buffer

Buffers are a great way to insulate ourselves from both negativity and devastating failure. They can also be used in a number of ways. If you’re someone who avoids moving forward, a buffer can provide you with the safety you need to have confidence taking action. They also allow us to keep moving, even when things get challenging. We all need a little extra room to process sometimes, and figure out how we want to proceed.

No matter what task or goal you try to manage, make a plan and build a buffer into it. These buffers should include time for self-care and grounding, but they should also give you time to re-calibrate and pivot in the chance that you face some setbacks or adversity that throws you off course.

Don’t punish yourself for mistakes. You’re going to get things wrong sometimes, and you’re going to revert back into old patterns. Forgive yourself and then take a step back, take a deep breath, and refocus. Mess-ups and mistakes aren’t the end of the road. They’re learning lessons. Think of your buffers like the clean-up time that allows you to pick up the pieces when your expectations blow apart.

5. Embrace your right to be okay

Whether you know it in this moment or not, you have a right to be okay. You’re not less deserving than anyone else in this world of happiness, abundance, and respect. Until you believe that, though, you’ll never be able to manifest it. You’ll keep yourself stuck in toxic patterns of belief and behavior that prevent you from achieving the things you need in order to feel as though your life holds meaning and purpose.

Embrace your right to be okay, in life, in love, in career — in everything. You have a right to thrive and you have a right to be happy on whatever terms your authenticity calls for. Claim this as your own. You have a birthright, and that birthright is fulfillment and joy in every aspect of your life.

Stop allowing yourself to settle for inaction and unhappiness. Stop allowing yourself to settle for relationships which don’t fit, and misery and negativity of your own making. We’re on the cusp of major transformation. You can either choose to be a part of that, or you can stay lost and scared in a place that doesn’t suit you. Is the potential for failure really worse than the misery you’re stuck in now? You’re the only person who can answer that question.

Putting it all together…

Holding on to negative motivation will only hold you back in life and in love. If you’re truly set on build a life that brings joy (and you should be) you need to let go of your fears and insecurities so that you can take charge of your future effectively. No more negative motivation. Focus on positivity and taking action instead.

Learn to test your assumptions before you give up or give in on the things you want to accomplish. Our minds sometimes lie to us and make us believe we aren’t capable of achieving the things which are rightfully ours. Change the way you talk to yourself and strive — every day — to build a positive self-image from the inside out. Start small and work your way up. It took years to form your negative beliefs and they won’t go away overnight. Tread slowly and always give yourself a buffer. You have a right to be okay, and you have a right to lead a fulfilling life. Get rid of all that negativity and focus on living a life that’s motivated and inspired by positivity and belief in self.

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