This post is for a friend of mine who said (paraphrasing) that courage is one of the most important things to have in order to recover. I agree wholeheartedly. And yet, we so often forget about the very thing that spurs us to change and recover in the first place, and what so many of us lack: MOTIVATION, or the desire to change. 

The following definitions of motivation were taken from a variety of psychology textbooks and reflect the general consensus that motivation is an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire, or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction:

–internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction;
–desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior;
–influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior
–the arousal, direction, and persistence of behavior.

I believe that not only does it take COURAGE to change, but also MOTIVATION. You have to want something bad enough to go out and get it. You can be the most courageous person in the world. Willing to take on huge, risky tasks. But courage does not imply that you have the motivation to enact change. You need to DESIRE change. Once you DESIRE change, courage is the next best attribute to have as it then allows you to FOLLOW THROUGH with that which you choose to change. 

How do we go about wanting, desiring, motivating ourselves to change? Well, not to be too psychological, but motivation to DO SOMETHING about your situation comes out of NEED. 

If you are sitting on the sofa, lazily watching TV for hours and then suddenly realize you are hungry, you may not be motivated to go to the kitchen to get something to eat until your hunger turns to starvation. Once that happens, the NEED for food outweighs the need to sit on the sofa. The same example can be applied to love addiction. When your NEED for freedom and self-realization outweighs that of the relationship, you are suddenly motivated to change and get out of the relationship. 

Trouble is, there are a gazillion of us out there that really want to change, but still remain tied to our PoAs. In my opinion, the PoA is fulfilling a bigger need and therefore, we stay. OUr need for the PoA, despite a lot of pain and suffering, still outweighs the fear of the unknown. This, in turn, means that our motivation to change is low. We end up in a mental catch 22: complaining to others,poor me, I hate my life, how do i change without feeling the discomfort of it all? gets us no where. 

But when we truly want out and want a better life for ourselves, motivation to change comes to us in many different ways. For me, it was a very slow and sad realization that the situation would NEVER change itself no matter what i did or said. And then one day, it hit me: it’s time to get out. 

For others, motivation can come from a spiritual moment, a line in a book, a friend, an act. It can come from inside or outside. But one thing is for sure, once you realize the need for change, you must act on it and pursue it. You must cultivate it. If you don’t, you lose the momentum to change. You lose your motivation. 

Going back to what I said earlier: When your NEED for freedom and self-realization outweighs that of the relationship, you are suddenly motivated to change and get out of the relationship. Well, how do you do that if your need for freedom does not outweigh the need for the PoA and yet you are suffering? Answer: you have to change your paradigm (your belief and/or perspective) on what you NEED. I need to eat donuts every day. Um, no you don’t. I need a cigarette to calm me. Hard lesson learned, but don’t need that either. And so on…Half of what we think we need, is pure nonsense. The child inside has the needs. The adult in you, knows better. 

Write out what you DO NEED in your life as an adult:
warmth, food, comfort, love, shelter, safety, God…be very specific…someone who makes me laugh, a sense of self-worth, some time alone, two children, a partner that accepts me for who I am, who shows me with actions that he loves me. Remember that YOU are working toward those needs and that you cannot force anyone to give them to you. If you aren’t getting those needs met after a reasonable amount of time, THEY’RE NOT GOING TO BE MET via the person you are with! 

Needs also have levels of importance. I need to eat this chocolate cake has a little less weight than, I need to know I am loved. Give your needs a value. Start believing that they are important. Hopefully, they will outweigh the more immature need to just be in the same room with somebody who could care less about you…When this occurs, you increase your motivation to change. 

People think that change takes years. It doesn’t. Actual change takes a split second. You put down the cigarette and never smoke again. Everyone who’s ever quit knows this. You might relapse or slip a couple times. But change was still enacted in that millisecond. The day you signed your divorce papers, or your marriage license. Change was enacted in that moment! It’s really THAT simple. If anything, that should MOTIVATE you to change. And COURAGE should keep you there.

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