11 Dec. 2021

Where to find motivation? Theory and exercises part IV

Planning in Line with Goals

When accompanied by a lowered mood, we often feel “paralyzed” – lacking the energy and willingness to act, and many activities seem to be devoid of meaning. We wonder: “What should I actually be doing? Is it worth getting involved? Do I have the strength for it?” If we decide that we want to activate ourselves, we can start by setting ourselves one or several goals. These goals will serve as signposts for our actions. Establishing goals is also an opportunity to reflect on what is important to us. In a state of lowered mood, initial important goals could include things like getting out of bed, getting dressed, and having breakfast. Sometimes, we may need to break the path to a goal into several small steps.

Exercise: Write down a few goals you want to achieve:
– tomorrow,
– within the next week,
– within the next month,
– within the next year.

What were you doing when you weren’t depressed?

Experiencing depression often leads us to abandon activities that were enjoyable and valuable to us. We abandon them due to a lack of energy and motivation, but also because they no longer bring us as much joy. Unfortunately, the lack of rewarding experiences deepens the state of despondency and demotivation. Returning to activities that are valuable to us is one of the first steps in treating depressive states. We won’t feel satisfaction immediately; it will be a rather slow process – it’s worth not giving up after the first attempt.

Exercise: What rewarding activities were you doing when you weren’t depressed? What activity do you want to return to?

In depression, we think pessimistically about the future, so we are not inclined to make plans for pleasure. Moreover, we often plan only duties, and we want to engage in rewarding activities “if we have enough time” (and often we don’t :)). Therefore, a valuable exercise is planning pleasure and satisfaction a week in advance. In addition to increasing motivation and the number of positive experiences, the exercise allows us to notice activities that are not rewarding and valuable for us (e.g., we may discover that watching TV bores and depresses us). Additionally, during the plan’s implementation, we can verify our negative beliefs about actions (e.g., “I will definitely feel bad, it will be boring”). We can also notice changes in our mood that occur as a result of engaging in activities.

Exercise: Plan rewarding activities in advance. Assess how much pleasure and satisfaction they can give you. After completing the activity, observe your mood and sense of satisfaction.

If despite attempts to work on your motivation, you continue to experience difficulties, it’s worth seeking help from a psychologist. Contact us if you are looking for a cognitive-behavioral psychologist or psychotherapist in Krakow or online. In our offices in Krakow, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is available. We also work in Third Wave approaches (including schema therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy DBT, acceptance and commitment therapy ACT).

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