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Low motivation is a universal human problem. Left unattended, it can spiral into procrastination, avoidance, depressive symptoms and, over months and years, the kind of lives that happen to people rather than for them. CBT provides powerful tools to help people reconnect with their motivation. Through the use of mindfulness training, cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, behavioral change analysis and more, CBT helps clients to cultivate the kind of positive mindset to power them through adversity – and to build their own, individually defined vision of success. However, the initial barrier for so many clients is in their very definition of what “motivation” is. A widely held misconception about motivation is that it comes of its own accord – and that people are powerless to act effectively without its external, muse-like influence. Instead, it can be hugely beneficial to define “motivation” as something within people’s own agency and control. Redefining “motivation” for clients could be a key milestone in CBT’s overall aim – namely, helping people to reclaim their own power over their minds, their lives, and their vision of personal success. Below are just three aspects of motivation that go a long way to understanding it, to redefining it for clients, and transforming it into something that clients actually control.
Imagine you’re alone in the wilderness. You need a campfire to keep you from freezing, and this fire represents motivation. The act of wanting those flames to appear, or waiting for them, is not the stuff of positive outcomes. Instead, building a fire hinges on an individual’s actual intention to gather materials and get it started. The ability to start that fire, or strike the first flames of motivation, are absolutely within an individual’s control. The act of writing down even the tiniest goal, and setting an exact time and duration for how it will be accomplished, is an incredibly powerful and proven technique. It’s a demonstration that beginning to achieve any goal – and drawing from an “inner well” of limitless motivation to achieve it – can be as simple as the act of writing it down, with a specific time to do it.
Action is the antidote for anxiety, and action is powered by people’s own motivation. Paradoxically, action is also what it takes to give people motivation. Having clients set down their intentions in writing, with specific times to achieve tiny goals, is the start of a feedback loop that begins to generate motivation, followed by action, followed by an increasingly positive mindset. The key to CBT is altering the pathways of clients’ thoughts and behaviours – and behind that power is the need for clients to take action. Which specific actions, no matter how small, could an individual take to make positive change – and crucially, to build more and more foundational motivation, in order to action their way to success?
The truth is, building motivation and a positive mindset takes work – and for work to be repeated, it must be rewarded immediately. Now that a client has set their intention and taken action to achieve it, generating their own motivation, what’s their immediate payoff? Creating a schedule of goals to hit, and positive-mindset habits to form, is only half of a client’s negotiation with themselves. What do they get out of taking that action? A treat, a day out, or perhaps a larger material reward? Motivation can be financial, or social, or even food-based. We’re all best motivated to act by immediate, tangible rewards. How can a client harness the power of these immediate rewards to take small actions regularly towards their vision of success – and in doing so, increase their motivation exponentially?
A relationship of patient-therapist trust is key to helping people build their own motivation, positive mindset and vision of success. And often the best way to form that trust from the outset, even before working relationships begin, is with an official CBT certification. With an official iGCBT™ certification, you’re able to add the letters miGCBT™ to your name – creating an incredibly powerful message for future clients that you’re an accredited member of the world’s largest professional CBT accreditation board. To learn more about official iGCBT™ certification, just click here for an introduction to the IGCBT™ and our membership options – and let’s help you to help more people increase their motivation, nurture a positive mindset, and shape their own unique vision of life and career success.
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