Shifting from Self-Sabotage to Self-Motivation | TMOHP Episode 084

When you want to change emotional eating habits or stop overeating, motivation can feel like another difficult part of the equation - something you have to stay on top of, that feels somewhat out of your control, and that can drastically impact your results.

There’s another way to think about and to create motivation. Motivation doesn’t have to be a scarce commodity that requires focus to maintain. Instead, in this episode, I’m sharing simple strategies for nourishing and nurturing your motivation and eventually creating a self-perpetuating cycle of motivation and momentum that can make reaching your goals so much easier.

In this episode:

  • How focusing on negative thoughts and behaviors can drain motivation and energy
  • The benefits of shifting your mindset around what it takes to be motivated
  • Tips for habits that consistently nurture motivation and momentum when you want to break emotional eating and overeating cycles

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Curious about what it’s like inside Your Missing Peace? Want to learn how to stop overeating without diets and deprivation? Join me for a free, live 5-part workshop series. Register here for the free (online) Freedom from Overeating Workshop Series for Smart, Busy Women.
  • Emotional Eating Quiz: Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and get a free set of resources matched to your results.
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Today I want to address a lot of questions that I have been getting about motivation. And how to stay motivated. How to get motivated. How to keep going when you've decided that you want to make a change in your eating, when you really want to work to tackle emotional eating and overeating.

And one of the things that I hear from people all the time and I totally get, is that it is so easy to feel defeated before you even start. Because it is so easy to look at where you are and look at where it is that you want to go. Whether it is switching your mindset from deprivation to freedom mentality or changing a number on the scale or ending a habit of binging or overeating at night. 

It is so easy to look at that gap between where you are and where you want to go. And feel like it is insurmountable. Or feel like it is going to be such a long journey, how am I going to do this? Or how am I going to stick with it? Or to get stuck in your head with all the stories that you have accumulated around your history. All the places it hasn't worked in the past. Or all the places that has it has worked for a while, and then maybe it stopped working or you fell off track. Or all the ways that it has felt like a vicious cycle. Right? 

So how do you get motivated? How do you stay motivated? And how do you keep motivated in a way that you will keep going and you're not always wondering, when is the other shoe going to fall? How long is this going to last? Can I really do it? Right? I think to get started, it would be really useful to talk about how you think about motivation. Because sometimes motivation, and actually the way I probably just described it, motivation can sound like an act of willpower in itself. Right? That it's something that you have to stay strong to have. You have to stay focused. You have to stay on top of it. You have to be in the corner being your own cheerleader all the time. You know, you can't lose that positive energy. How can I hold onto it? 

Which is quite honestly a derivative of deprivation mentality. It comes from scarcity, right? Motivation is this very limited, precious commodity that I have to hold onto and nurture and be very, very careful of. And be very aware that it might go away at any time. Right? Scarcity, deprivation, there's never enough. Have to hold on tight. There is another way to think of motivation.

What if you make the shift to think of creating the kind of motivation that is self-perpetuating? Can you imagine having motivation to have a relationship with eating that you loved? That had a, having motivation to have a relationship with food that felt good? And having the kind of motivation that you didn't wake up every morning worrying, you know, whether it had disappeared? But whether you had things in place that continually refilled the cup of your motivation.

That's how I think about a cycle of self-perpetuating motivation. And that's what I want to talk with you about today. How to build a self-perpetuating cycle of motivation. Sound good? 

Now, here's a really important, I guess it's a foundation of what I'm going to talk with you about today. And that is that creating something that perpetuates itself, creating something that is ongoing with ease. Creating something that fits into your life. Which is the kind of motivation I want to talk with you about today. Really is created from simple things.

That kind of self-perpetuating motivation. The whole idea of it being something that self-perpetuates, that just keeps showing up, that rejuvenates itself. Instead of something you have to go out and seek and work really hard on and, and actually not have a lot of trust in. The foundation of that is that it is built on behaviors and thoughts and activities that are doable. And that are actually pretty simple. 

And so as with many things, it is really important to start out by reminding you that you have a human brain and that human brains tend to minimize and actually roll their eyes at the idea of simple changes or small steps.

The idea that you can do little tiny things that can grow. That can create self-perpetuating cycles. Right? That small actions can beget bigger actions. That can create bigger changes that then become natural and even organic feeling. That's what we're talking about with motivation. These are the kind of things I'm going to talk with you about today in this episode.

And the reason I'm saying this is that these small, doable ideas are exactly the kind of ideas that your brain will tend to roll its eyes over and say, well, that's nothing. And look for something bigger and more monumental and more overwhelming and more unsustainable and non-self-perpetuating. That your brain will tell you is really what you ought to do.

So expect that, ignore that. And just let yourself think about could it be easy to easily feel more motivated? To continue onward creating the best relationship with food that works for me. That's what we want. Or that's what I want. And I think that's why what you want, which is why you're listening to this podcast. Right?

So in many ways the enemy of motivation is self sabotage. Motivation starts in your mind with your thoughts and your beliefs and the soundtrack that you have running in your head. And unfortunately, so do cycles of self-sabotage and obviously they work against each other. If your motivation is feeling like hard work, it is probably tinged or really flavored with some self-sabotaging thinking about you or about food, or about what it takes to have motivation or what it takes to make changes.

The good news is that with a little effort you can shift from an approach that could be keeping you stuck or struggling to one that automatically is fueling and nourishing, nurturing your motivation. So the worst thing you can do for your motivation, and this goes for changing your eating or anything else. But you're, if you're, you're emotional eating, you're overeating, you want to change that the worst thing you can do to conjure up some motivation is to focus on all the stuff that you didn't do. Or that you didn't get right. Or all the ways that you failed. 

And we do this all the time, especially when it comes to making changes with overeating, with emotional eating. Right? I fell off track. I went back to my old habits. I blew it. I blew it. I blew it. Oh my gosh. How many times have you said that to yourself? I'm so disappointed in myself. I'm lazy. I don't have any willpower. 

Being honest with yourself is important. I will never tell you to not be honest with yourself. Denial is not helpful. But cataloging all your weak moments and all the places that you didn't measure up to, sometimes some really impossible standards, and focusing on those things and also seeing them through a lens of self blame. It's because I'm a bad person. It's because I'm lazy. It's because I didn't have enough willpower. It's cuz I didn't try hard enough. Focusing on all your weak moments, all the places you didn't measure up and why you didn't do it, because well, making the why you will not motivate you.

It will do a number on your confidence. I mean, it will completely erode your confidence. It will drain your energy and your enthusiasm and it will keep you focused, this is really important. It will keep you focused on struggle. And the idea of struggle. The more you focus on the things that you didn't do and blame yourself for not doing them, it sets you up as you know, and the way to succeed at this thing is to struggle. Remember, one of the huge myths of deprivation mentality is that if something didn't work, if you try to change your eating and it didn't work, it's your fault. And it's because you weren't trying hard enough. And that sets you up for a struggle. Right?

Cuz it sets you up to, oh, the answer is, I just need to jump in there and do that same old thing that didn't work again and just work harder and blame myself more. Okay. Can you hear the de-motivation in that whole philosophy and in that whole approach and in that whole way of being with yourself? 

This is so important. I know you know this, but this is so important to remind yourself of. We notice the things that we are focusing on. And we focus on the things that we are interested in noticing. So we notice the things that we are focusing on, and we focus on the things that we are interested in noticing or looking for the things that you are looking for. And if you are focusing on all the things that didn't work. Guess what your brain becomes, you know, guess what your brain cycles through? Right? And what the, the things will be that you will continue to look for. 

So you can create with your mind a cycle that's negative. Or you can use this amazing observation about what we focus on and what we notice. You can use this to build a cycle of motivation. So you can build an overwhelm and stress cycle or a motivating cycle. 

You're a human being, so your brain has probably gra gravitated towards that negative cycle. Let's talk about how to switch it up. Right. There's some simple, remember, simple and doable ways to start building. And then you can enhance, and then you can grow the self-perpetuating cycle of motivation.

The very first thing you want to do is you want to ask yourself what you are doing that is moving you in the right direction. What are you doing? When clients start telling me about all the things they fell off track with during the week, I immediately asked them, okay, but what went well? What are the positive routines? What are the hours that that didn't happen? Were there any days that that didn't happen? Or any moments where you didn't have that thought? What are the positive routines, the thoughts, the actions that you are continuing to do? And usually that catches people off guard. There's a little bit of silence, like you have to recalibrate your whole brain to think in that direction. 

But then the truth starts coming out. And it has become, so it's become kind of a, a running joke in the Missing Peace program that as people shift gears, amazing things start to happen. Because it is amazing how often wins really motivating wins are hiding in plain sight. But we don't see them because our brain has decided that the way to be successful is to be constantly vigilant and focusing on all the things that are going wrong.

So the truth starts to emerge in small ways. And I promise you, even if you are in the middle of a really bad, terrible week or month or quarter, you are doing something that is moving you in the right direction. You may have to start super small, but guess what? You are listening to this podcast episode that probably counts.

So I'll start to hear things like, what are you doing that's moving you in the right direction? I will start to hear things like, Okay, well I have been drinking more water. Or you know, I actually have been working at stopping my workday at six 30 instead of just keeping my computer open all night. Well, you know, I actually have, my eating hasn't changed, but I've been getting more sleep and I'm really noticing the difference that it makes. Or I started journaling again. Or I'm not multitasking at dinner anymore. That was so hard for me. I thought it was going to be awful, but actually I'm really starting to enjoy some of the things that are coming out of that. I'm checking in with myself. I've been pausing.

Oh, you know what else that you might be doing that's moving you in the right direction? You might be stopping and noticing things that you are doing that are not helpful to you. But you're noticing them. You're moving off of autopilot. So, you can begin to build a cycle of self-perpetuating motivation. And remember that is like motivation that is easy to keep making changes. To keep going. To make your eating feel better. To wake up in the morning and actually just want to do the things that are important to you.

You can create motivation that homes in the background step by step. But it starts by beginning to focus your brain on, okay, what am I doing that works? What am I doing that gets me where I want to go? Even if it is a teeny tiny thing. Focusing on your positive choices creates confidence. It creates energy, it creates, it creates motivation.

And if you don't believe me, think about the, the mental state and the energy and the interest in keeping going that happens when you list off all the negative things that you aren't doing. Right? So focusing on your positive choices creates the kind of motivating energy that you want. And even better, it is so much easier to wrap your mind around how to do more of what's working than it is to take a positive action when you are so totally convinced that everything you're doing isn't working at all. Which is what will happen when your brain focuses on the negative. Cuz remember, your brain sees what it's focusing on, and then it focuses on what it is looking for. And if all you're looking for is all the stuff that's not working, how hard is it to go out and do one positive thing?

So what are you doing that's moving you in the right direction? And then related to that, what is working? Ask yourself what's working. All or nothing thinking and perfectionism are the enemies of what is working. 

So I'll give you an example. A new client comes to me, she tells me she feels completely helpless with overeating. She says, I am binging nonstop. All I do is binge, and I have no control with food at all, and I feel completely helpless. I have been totally unsuccessful. I feel completely helpless to break the cycle. She's frustrated. She's really mad. Actually disgusted with herself, would not be too strong a way to phrase it.

And she is feeling really lost and incapable of figuring out how to put an end to this pattern, which feels overwhelming, and which she feels hopeless about. Because her whole brain is stuck in a demotivating cycle of what isn't working and how it will never work. Right? So simple, but also challenging, like I, I said, let's, we need to move the focus here. Right? So let's not, I've heard enough about what isn't working. Let's talk about what is working. 

This can take a moment when we're used to seeing the negative it's like taking your camera lens that you've been looking at the world through and refocusing it. Right? So it can take a bit of time to see anything clearly with this new perspective. But if you stick with it? You will, you, you may just amaze yourself. In this case with this client when we did some digging, and I got really specific with her because that helped refocus. It turned out that while she was overeating in the afternoon and in the evening, mornings were actually fine.

So we went from, this is always a problem. I binge all day long. Nothing is working to, mornings are working. She felt on track in the mornings. She had a routine in the mornings that worked for her. And that she was eating a breakfast that she felt really good about actually. Oh, and then it turned out that late morning and even lunch were also successful parts of her day. And by successful, I mean she felt good about them. Food was not an issue for her. She was not upset or obsessing or, you know, it wasn't an energy that she didn't want to be in. She never binged in the afternoons when she was at work. Which was very different from her weekends, which were really unstructured. 

So we started to get an idea of what was working. Which was totally inaccessible when her brain was stuck in that other cycle. Right? When you start to see what's working, you can begin to build on it. 

So another thing you can do to get at that, and again, what happens is when you start to see that you're getting somewhere, when you start to see that you are doing some things, when you start to see that, oh yeah, this thing did work and that thing did work, and afternoons are not a problem. You can build on it. But what also happens is inside.

Your confidence starts to build and you start to see beyond that very closed down view of nothing works at all. This is really hard. I hate having to do this. I'm not getting anywhere. Which again, how is that ever going to give you a cycle of easy motivation. Right?

So ask yourself when the best, most successful times are. And remember, you can do this in the middle of a really horrible week, month, quarter, year. When are the best, most successful times? Because life is not the same every single moment, 24 7. So in the example of the client, what we figured out. We started with figuring out what was working and when it was working. Then we could start to see why these times were more successful than the times that things didn't feel like they were working. 

What made mornings different than evening? Why was it easier to stay on track earlier in the day? What was different for her about being at work and eating when she was at work versus the weekend, which turned out part of it was the structure.

Being curious, asking yourself what the best successful or the most successful times are can help you. You can shift your energy. You can build motivation. You can build momentum by asking yourself why and when you're most successful. Again, you see the shift from negative to positive? Instead of focusing on the failure, instead of focusing on self-blame, when is it working or when is it working even just a little tiny bit?

When do I feel most motivated? When do I feel most successful? When do I struggle the least? These are all important small shift kind of questions that you can ask that will take your brain in a completely different direction.


All right, and as you ask these questions, the final question I would suggest to you today is to ask yourself what you do to stretch and to extend all of the above. So what are you doing that you feel good about? What are, what is working? When is it working? What are the times of day that feel the easiest or the best or the most successful? Okay, so how do I take the good stuff and stretch it? And extend it? Which is so different from how do I get it perfect or how do I sit and beat myself up because morning was so great and then I ruined it this afternoon. Which is what we do with overeating. Right? All the time. 

Wait, wait a minute. Morning was great. Lunchtime was great. It started to fall apart at two o'clock, so how could I, what was it about the energy in the morning? And the lunchtime and the early afternoon? What was it about that energy or my brain space or, or you know, what was it and how could I make that last longer? Or how could I transplant some of that? Right? Into that other part of my day? 

Create some daily practices that focus your brain and you in these directions that we're talking about. Ask yourself every evening what went well, what worked. Make an effort to notice the little things that are becoming so ingrained and automatic that they might slip by unnoticed. This is how those great wins end up hiding in plain sight in the Missing Peace group. Because little wins create bigger wins, create automatic habits, create automatic motivation. 

And all of a sudden members are not overeating in the afternoon, or members aren't buying the cookies that they used to binge on at the grocery store anymore. And they don't even notice it. Until they go looking for it. Right? 

So make it a daily practice. Because when they do notice it and when you notice it, when you start to accumulate, oh, this is going well and this is going well, and last week this was going well in the morning, but now it's going well until two o'clock. Or, or whatever it is, that that changes for you. That is motivation that builds on itself. Can you see that? 

It is so easy not to see the things that are going well. But when you deliberately underline them, I think about it like taking a highlighter to my brain, right, and going through and putting a highlighter on these things. When you underline them, when you take credit, when you reward yourself for these things, even if it is simple as saying, I did that, I did that. I did three amazing things today. 

When you do this, you nourish your motivation. You absolutely nurture your momentum. You make it so much easier and actually sometimes even exciting and interesting and pleasurable to keep going. To keep doing this thing because it is working. It is bringing you results. It is feeling good. 

And when you skip this step of paying attention to what's working. And paying attention to what you're doing, that is working. And paying attention to when things are working. It is so easy for your brain to contract back into that cycle of nothing works. It's all my fault. I have to keep trying or I have to just give up.

And that cycle is a vacuum for motivation and momentum. It is just a recipe for hard work and effort, and it's dismal, really. So own the wins. Look for the wins. Look for the good times. Look for the successes. I promise you they are there. And if you are not seeing them right now, I will give you the advice I give all my clients I give in the Missing Peace program. Look smaller. 

Look for the teeny things. Remember that the teeny things count. The teeny things become bigger things. Become bigger things when you notice them. Noticing is the fertilizer. So call them out. Own them. And then ask yourself, how can you keep growing? How can you keep growing and nurturing the good stuff that you are already doing?

You're already doing it, I promise you. So that is how you create a self-perpetuating cycle of motivation. 

Get to it. And I'll see you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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