Motivation can be a slippery little sucker. Anyone who has had a hard task in front of them can tell you from experience- motivation is not a constant companion on the way to the achievement. Motivation isn’t always going to be there for you, pushing you towards your goals. To be successful, motivation must be joined by perseverance.
A common way to look at motivation towards change is this equation:
When the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of changing, change will occur. Most of us will work to avoid pain, even if that means having to make changes we’d rather not make under other circumstances. When we look at that through an eating recovery lens, you may recognize that point in your own life- the moment of desperate realization that you don’t want to stay in the pain of your disorder. A moment of wanting help, even if it would require you to try new things. The trouble is, the momentum from the motivation gained in that moment of pain doesn’t always last through to full eating recovery. As motivation ebbs and flows, perseverance comes on the scene to ensure goals are met and recovery is achieved.
If we were to create an equation for that, it would look like this: motivation PLUS perseverance equals recovery.
The role of perseverance
Perseverance can be defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. While we expect recovery to be linear, it’s just not. On the diverging path of recovery, perseverance is what is often keeping you moving forward.
Motivation is a mover and a shaker, but perseverance is the slow and steady tortoise that’s going to get you across the finish line of your recovery race.
Don’t give up when motivation wanes
Remember, when you feel a lack of motivation to continue in your eating recovery work, it’s not because you are failing or doing something wrong. Motivation on its own was never going to get you all the way to recovery. You aren’t feeling a lack of motivation because you don’t have the ability to recover from your eating disorder. No one feels motivated all the time! Motivation just has to be met with perseverance.
What does that look like in practice?
-Don’t get overly discouraged on the days you want to give into disordered thoughts and behaviors. You might observe the way you are feeling, while reminding yourself that this is a normal part of recovery and that you will be practicing a “perseverance day” today.
-Develop some personal mantras towards perseverance. “I’m someone worth the work of the mundane recovery days”; “consistency IS recovery” and “I’m a woman who has her crap together” are all perseverance driven mantras. Remind yourself of the work you are doing to develop this important “adulting” skill of perseverance!
-Act as though you are already someone skilled at persevering through tough days. When you are feeling the urge to act on disordered eating thoughts, remind yourself, “I’m someone who I can count on to do what is needed in recovery, even when it’s tough” and keep doing what you know is right- following through on your meal plan, reaching out to your support system, attending your treatment appointments.
Remember the equation: Motivation + perseverance = recovery
Don’t give up on yourself when things get discouraging. So many times, the act of giving up keeps us from discovering the very important truth about ourselves that we are absolutely capable of doing incredibly difficult things!