Survival Tip for the Worst Mood Ever

I have been unreasonably grumpy the last couple of days. No….worse, I’ve been cranky, dispirited, and whiney. There are decent explanations for this mood; it could be a reentry adjustment or it could be that letdown after big projects are completed. Whatever it is, I’m sitting in a really bad mood. So my mood got me thinking about motivation. When I feel this cranky, I don’t feel motivated to do anything; including things I know might help my mood. When I am in the worst mood ever, I have to draw on something besides motivation to do the things I need to do to run my life and to feel better.

Russ Harris says a couple of really interesting things about motivation in his book, The Confidence Gap.

  • “’Motivation is the desire to do something. And that’s all it is. It’s not some magical drug that gives us the power to do whatever we want…” (P.210).
  • “(Most people understand_ motivation to be primarily a feeling. If we feel good about something—if we’re positive, excited, enthusiastic, revved up, or inspirited—then we say we ‘feel motivated’. And if we don’t have those pleasant feelings, then we say we’re ‘unmotivated’ or that we’ve ‘got no motivation.’”(p. 212)

A lot of my psychotherapy clients fall prey to the idea that they actually need to feel motivated before doing this or that. Or that something is always necessarily wrong if they do not feel motivated. If I could just bottle the stuff ~“Motivation Brew”~ I’d be in big business!

While a sustained lack of motivation can be a symptom of clinical depression, we have to make sure that we don’t think too much of motivation or lean on it rather than our own willingness to make commitments and follow through on them. For me, I have needed to work, love my family, run errands, exercise and cook all while I lacked motivation. If I were waiting for motivation to come this week, I might have stayed under the covers.  I look forward to hearing what you think!

If you like this, check out the book the quotes come from. The Confidence Gap is my resource of the month.

5 comments


  • so with you there. When I came back from New Zealand (and especially the second time!) it took committment to show up for work every day, because the only thing I felt motivated to do was lie on the couch and watch tv!
    Committment gets us showing up for obligations when the motivation is lacking. Motivation for me often comes after I show up, not before!

    August 30, 2012
  • Even better than commitment is habit…

    August 30, 2012
  • becky tac

    So true. More than once a day, I say to my 6 yr. old “It’s ok you don’t feel like doing it. We can still do things we don’t feel like doing.” It serves as a reminder to mommy as well.

    August 30, 2012
  • Dan McWilliams

    Our culture today places a high value on authenticity and people judge hypocrisy, especially if see it in religious people. But along with your blog, I have learned in life that a case can be made for a good kind of hypocrisy: doing the right thing on the outside even when our desires or motivations on the inside do not match.

    August 30, 2012
  • This sucks…I was going to skip my run for this morning and do it tomorrow…it’s raining here. I better lace up my shoes.

    September 1, 2012

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