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Why is motivation short- lived?


It is said that motivation is the need of the hour. People of all ages are looking for sources of motivation to become efficient, successful and stress-free. The largest number of self-help books are selling in the genre of motivation and inspiration. In spite of all this, it is a paradox that only a small section of society is really motivated.

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Pep up sessions

You might have attended motivational seminars or pep up sessions in which they transport people mentally to a new world, and make them believe that they have the potential to reach the top, accomplish something worthwhile, and nothing can stop them from fulfilling their dreams. They make people stand up and reaffirm

 “I am a winner”

 “I am a champion”

 “I can do it”

They come out full of enthusiasm, fully charged up, and ready to take on the world! But ironically within a few hours or few days, the enthusiasm dies down, the self-confidence is punctured, and they come to terms with the reality that ‘it’s not their cup of tea’. Let’s try to analyze why motivation doesn’t last long?

Why does motivation fizzle out?

In fact, there are many reasons for the motivation to fizzle out. The main reason is that external motivation is temporary: it may wake you up, but it will not keep you awake for long.It may influence you to make a change, but it cannot make the change for you. It cannot prevent you from drifting off the course when the motivator has gone. Our poorly programmed subconscious mind tells us “don’t believe in this rubbish of becoming a super achiever, actually you are not made for it”.

Reasons for negative programming of the mind

To understand the reasons for the negative programming of our mind, we need to go back to our childhood. Remember the nursery rhymes which most children repeat during their formative years

”Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall,

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again”

The child is left wondering, why no one could put Humpty Dumpty together again?

Another popular nursery rhyme:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill,

To fetch a pail of water,

Jack fell down and broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after”

The child feels like asking the teacher, did someone take Jack to the doctor? Did Jill get hurt?

As the child grows he listens NO repeatedly from his parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, so many times.He is reminded of his weaknesses and faults time and again. Sincere, caring, loving parents, teachers, friends tell their children:

“Can’t you do anything right?”

”why can’t you do well like your brother?”

”You will never be an artist”

“I tell you to do something, and you do just the opposite”

‘You never study”

“You talk too much”

‘You are so lazy”

He accepts the opinions of other people leading to a low self-image. As a teenager and adolescent, he glances through the newspapers, watches news and serials on TV. Most of these are full of crimes, accidents, scams, scandals, vulgarity and corruption. The social media adds fuel to fire. All these create self-doubt, frustration, and disillusionment.

Results of negative programming

Even mothers who are supposed to be the best well-wishers of the child are so much overpowered by negativities that they unknowingly damage the psyche of children. A simple wake-up call says, “Get up soon, don’t you want to go to school?” Pestering the child to study the mother says “if you don’t study, you will fail in the exam”. When a teenager gets late in returning from a coaching class, and his mobile is out of reach, the anxious mother imagines that he might have met with an accident.

Mental apartment

To understand the programming of our mind, let us take the analogy of a ‘mental apartment’. It is furnished with all the items of furniture and fixtures which have been handed over to you by others. These are the views of other people about you, which you have accepted and formed your self-image. The polish of the sofa is scrapped at places, the cushions are dirty, the curtains are faded, and the carpet is torn. You have got used to them so you don’t mind. A good friend comes and makes you realize in what junk you are living in; he gets all the old items shifted to the garage. He opens the windows and puts fresh flowers, so the room is filled with fresh air and fragrance. This feeling is similar to the charged up feeling that you experience during a motivational session. After some time you get tired and want to sit down, but there is no chair. So you have no option but to go and get a chair from the garage. Later you feel the need for a table and bed, so you get them from the garage. Two days later you have brought all the old furniture back in your room. The only way to prevent this was to replace the old furniture with brand new furniture.

What is the remedy?

Yes, the remedy is to reprogram our thinking, by changing the way we talk to ourselves. First, we need to identify the negative self-talk like:

“I can’t remember names”

“I am so clumsy”

“I don’t have talent”

“I never have enough time”

“I hate going to office”

“If only I had more money”

  Just pause for one minute after each hour, and rephrase all such negative self-talk to positive ones. Let me caution you, it’s not easy to change your pattern of thinking, but it is certainly possible with deliberate, conscious efforts.

Avoid negative news, TV serials, and don’t hang around with people who pull you down. The best time-tested remedy to reprogram your mind is to watch motivational videos, read inspiring books regularly and associate with people who are positively oriented.

In a nutshell

  • External motivation is temporary.
  • Negative nursery rhymes confuse the children.
  • Parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, often discourage a child and remind him of his weaknesses and faults time and again.
  • The remedy is to reprogram our thinking, by changing the way we talk to ourselves.
  • Avoid negative news, TV serials, and don’t hang around with people who pull you down.
  • Watch motivational videos, read inspiring books regularly and associate with people who are positively oriented.


(The word ‘he ‘used above is inclusive of both genders.)

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