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Staying motivated in the 21st Century

In Insight and Experience by George GintilasLeave a Comment

Do you sometimes wonder what your goals really are? Do you sometimes lose motivation for what you are doing? Do you ever find you are ‘lost’ as to who you are and what you are doing on this planet? What’s it all about?


When I was in my twenties after completing a degree in Economics, I began enrolling in many personal development seminars, lectures and workshops. I wanted to know what to do to succeed and feel happier. The most consistent advice I heard over and over again was to write down my goals on paper and read them everyday. So I began to do that. I would right my goals everyday, write what I wanted and read it every morning.

It didn’t work.

I would read them for a while then wonder if that’s what I really wanted, wasn’t sure, so I would tear up the paper and start again. This happened over and over again. Write them down, tear it up.

It didn’t take long to realise that I had no idea what my goals were. So it became hard to be motivated in the work that I was doing and in how I lived my life day to day. Anything I was motivated about was short lived. It took constant mental motivation to keep myself going.

What I know today is that what had happened back then was that I had effectively cut myself off from the real me deep down inside. My internal rudder had been lost. I was running my life from my head. My intellect was trying to make all the decisions and it was working overtime trying to do it.

I know now that I was missing two crucial ingredients to staying motivated and happily achieving my goals:

  1. I didn’t and couldn’t really feel my feelings and,
  2. I never allowed myself to directly feel those feelings physically in my body.

You need both, to stay motivated and achieve your goals.

A big key to achieving things in life, if you look at it closely enough, is that it always involves your feelings. Some people call it passion.

But just feeling your feelings isn’t enough either. There are many passionate people who have got the first missing ingredient right – lots of feeling; they know what they want but they keep going round and round in circles creating the same dramas every time they go for their goal, and so don’t get there. They get stuck in feeling the same old feeling over and over again and don’t progress.

So there is a second ingredient: Feel the feeling, but feel it directly in your body without judgment from your head. If you leave your head out of the feeling, you will feel it directly in your body. Do that, and the feeling moves. The old pattern breaks and life moves forward. You’re on your way towards your goals.

Enhancing ingredient No. 1 – Feeling feelings

If you have problems feeling feelings, how do you go about feeling them? A lot of therapies have arisen over the last few decades to help people feel their feelings and express them.

In order to feel, it can help to know what we human beings do habitually to not feel a feeling. In my experience there are three main ways to stop from feeling:

  1. Think that analysing is the answer and over-think
  2. Don’t breathe fully
  3. Tighten your muscles

Men especially lose connection to their feelings. They are taught from an early age to hold them in, suppress them, deny them, get on with things and toughen up. Allowing yourself to be temporarily vulnerable and feel what you have suppressed for years or even decades is one big key to not only self-motivation but also health and well-being. Connecting with your inner self fuels motivation because you get in touch with what really matters to you, but just saying this doesn’t really do it for most people. Many people just cannot feel, really feel.

My specialty training and practice over 16 years has been in helping people get more into their feelings and more into their body. Most people don’t want to feel their body because there is so much ‘bad stuff’ there from the past. So they avoid and remain in their self-imposed prison of limitation.

Enhancing ingredient No. 2 – direct body feeling

If you want to stay motivated in the 21st Century, you will need to be courageous and face your feelings – not your thoughts about your feelings, but your feelings directly in your body. To do that successfully you have to allow yourself to feel your body. Again not what you think about what you feel in your body, but what you actually feel in your body directly.

With the growing use of computers, the internet, cinemas, play stations and TV, the 21st Century is an intellect-enhancing and feeling-numbing environment that more easily than ever cuts us off from aliveness and real goals and drives.

It is not your thinking that drives getting what you want in life – it is the feeling, which in turn is driven and contained by your body, which in turn is driven by your soul, your inner real self.

Your body is what takes action. Learn to bring more awareness and presence to your inner body, which will release the feelings covering your true self. Many body-based methods can help. Physical exercise is very important too, because it helps to bring more focus on your body directly. Yoga, contact with nature, movement work, good therapies that include your whole body, not just thinking in your head – anything that helps you to let go and feel your body more.

Being first, doing second

True motivation is wordless, speechless; it just is. There is no ra, ra, lets go! Every fibre of your being and body are in unison to a goal. It is quiet, deep and focused and very still. This is the long-term motivation that just is, because you just are, in tune to the goal within your body.

Remember that no matter how big the trauma or hurt is within you – it is never bigger than who you really are. It is very important to spend time each morning getting in touch with who you really are first, before setting off into action in your day. Who you are – your ‘being’ must come first, then follows your ‘form’, your ‘doing’ in life.

If you lose the being in the morning and start off with the doing (as many people do) the doing will most likely run your day and you are more likely to get lost and reactive. So centring in the morning is very important, even for a few minutes – whatever it takes to find that core centre in your body (not your head) – because the real you is throughout your body, of which thinking is just one aspect.

When people come to see me, they have normally lost their ability to centre in their body. Because it is only from there where you have total control of your day.

Keep reminding yourself each day who you really are and take time to get back your feelings and your body.

Growing up, many people lose that connection to their inner core self. I was the most disconnected from my body and life when I received my honours degree in my early twenties. I was so in my head, my intellect ran my whole life. It took a while to get back into me again, to come home inside and find what I really wanted.

To do this I had to get into my feelings, to do that effectively, I had to get into my body.


George Gintilas is a body psychotherapist in private practice. He is also the co-director of the Elwood Centre for Wellbeing in Melbourne Victoria.

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