Psychological Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus

3. Maintaining Motivation in a Hard Time (or Anytime)

April 20, 2020 Ann Marie Roepke, Ph.D.
Psychological Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus
3. Maintaining Motivation in a Hard Time (or Anytime)
Chapters
Psychological Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus
3. Maintaining Motivation in a Hard Time (or Anytime)
Apr 20, 2020
Ann Marie Roepke, Ph.D.

Episode 3 explores how to stay motivated to accomplish goals that matter to us, unpacks the upsides and downsides of positive thinking, and introduces a tool to boost motivation.

Resources and references:

1. Motivation research (selected):
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/spc3.12271
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01443410.2010.506003
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-21506-001

2. WOOP tools:
www.woopmylife.org
WOOP app
book: Rethinking Positive Thinking

3. Mental health resources:

Directory of therapists: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

National Suicide Prevention Life Line: 1-800-273-8255

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990

NAMI’s guide on coronavirus: https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide

CDC’s coronavirus information page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

Show Notes Transcript

Episode 3 explores how to stay motivated to accomplish goals that matter to us, unpacks the upsides and downsides of positive thinking, and introduces a tool to boost motivation.

Resources and references:

1. Motivation research (selected):
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/spc3.12271
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01443410.2010.506003
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-21506-001

2. WOOP tools:
www.woopmylife.org
WOOP app
book: Rethinking Positive Thinking

3. Mental health resources:

Directory of therapists: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

National Suicide Prevention Life Line: 1-800-273-8255

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990

NAMI’s guide on coronavirus: https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide

CDC’s coronavirus information page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

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hello and welcome back to psychological resilience in the time of Corona virus. This is a podcast about the ideas skills in on relationships that can help us get through the Cove in 19 Crisis. I'm your host, Anne Marie Rep Key, and I'm also a psychologist, trainer and consultant based in Seattle, Washington. Now, this is Episode three of the podcast, and we'll be talking about how to stay motivated during this weird time will be exploring the upsides and downsides of positive thinking and covering a practical tool that you can use to boost motivation in this weird time or really, any time. As always, this podcast is for informational and educational purposes, and it's not intended as health care, medical advice, a doctor patient relationship or any sort of diagnosis or treatment. If you do need any mental health support, which a lot of folks do right now, you can check out thes show notes for some resource is all right. Episode three. Maintaining motivation so important for anyone who would like to improve their life or improve themselves in any way. So most of us, and even in more normal times, most of us generally have some goals or ideas or fantasies of what we want to be different. Maybe getting a new job or getting in better shape or starting something new from a relationship toe a garden, that band, a novel, a dog training protocol, a new school program or degree, an athletic skill or whatever it might be for you. And during this pandemic, Ah, lot of people's goals have been shifting. Some of us are needing to focus more on basic survival than before. Some are having to focus on home schooling, kids or supporting or dealing with their behaviors as they are out of their routines. Some of us might be more focused on trying to mend relationships with people who we would be really afraid to lose during this time now in Episode one. We talked about values and about how knowing what really matters most to us can help us to get through a crisis. And that reflection on values can also guide us in the process of setting goals that we actually care about that are actually meaningful. And then an Episode two. We talked about how pressuring or shaming ourselves into trying to be productive or achieve things probably isn't the best way to go about this, and we talked about the importance of self compassion. So here in Episode three, we're gonna build on all of that by talking about some science based principles that we can use to actually make progress on those goals and keep up our motivation and morale. Now, if you poke around the Internet on this topic of goal attainment, it will not take long before you stumble into the advice of thinking positive. And in fact, a few surge positive thinking you will find an endless stream of resource is quotes, images and so forth. You might also recall some really high profile and high profitability things that have popped up in pop culture, urging us to think positively so. One of the biggest profile ones was the book The Secret, which came out in 2006 and it was based on a movie from the same year, And one of the main ideas from the secret this so called law of attraction is that if we want something, we can get it by believing in it and really thinking and visualizing it in a positive way. Now I went down a rabbit hole in preparing for this episode, and I looked at the movie The Secret and just thought I would let you know that it is not the movie The Secret from 2007 which is apparently a movie starring David to Coveney, who gets into a car accident with his wife and daughter that somehow leads to his wife's consciousness being translated into his daughter's body. And that leads to a whole other series of strange events like him trying to make sense of that relationship and the mom slash daughter going back to high school And, I don't know, realizing that it's hard unclear. I also learned that there is a new version of the movie The Secret, coming out this year starring Katie Holmes, and this one also prominently features a car accident. But in this case, the car accident seems to happen because thes two people were positively visualizing meeting a romantic partner, and so the universe delivered by putting them into each other's paths. There's also an example later in the movie where someone thinks about a pizza being delivered and it is no if I had to pick one of these two movie universes toe live in Don't get me Wrong. I would for sure picked the Katie Holmes one instead of the David to Company one. But the problem is just visualizing or fantasizing about positive things doesn't seem to actually work that well for creating those things in our lives. Now, if you have a different experience of it and positive visualization really works for you, that's wonderful. And I don't at all want to take that away from anybody. What I do want to dio is spend a few minutes talking about the scientific research about what helps us to achieve our goals and how so called positive thinking can or can't play a part. So there's been a bigger and bigger body of science developing in recent years that explores to what extent it's actually helpful to think positively and to specifically visualize getting the things that we want. So, for instance, there have been studies about people engaging in positive fantasizing about getting a great job or positive fantasizing about facing an exam or getting together with their crush or having smooth outcomes after they get hip replacement surgery and, in general, what this research finds is that people that are doing this positive fantasizing actually fare worse. So when it comes down to whether or not they actually get that job, aced the exam, get together with the crush or have a great post surgical outcome, it seems that this positive fantasizing about the desired outcome can actually backfire. And there spent some theories about why this is, and one of them is that when we indulge in this sort of positive fantasy, it's really enjoyable in the moment and that that very enjoyment kind of saps our motivation and our energy to really go put in the hard work to make it happen. In essence, it's like we get to pre experience that sense of content, mentor, pride or relief, and that takes away some of our motivation to go work on this. So what's the alternative? We might ask, just giving up on our dreams and fantasies, sobering up with a cold, hard look at our sad and dissatisfying reality and just trying to make our peace with staying there. The question we might be asking ourselves is, should we visualize a positive future, or should we keep our eyes on the obstacles and the cold, hard reality. And the answer is yes, that is, we need to do both of those things. We do need to think about the positive future that we want, and we do need to keep our eyes on the obstacles and the realistic view of what's standing in our way. Unfortunately, there is a science based process for doing just that. That process is technically called mental contrast ing with implementation intentions, but luckily it has a ah shorter and more fun nickname. Woop W 00 P. Woop is an acronym, and it's a four step process that takes us from the starting point of wishing for this positive outcome all the way to actually planning how to achieve it. And the credit for this goes to two researchers named Gabrielle Engine and Peter Goal Wit sir, who have done awesome work developing and testing this. And at this point, there's pretty solid evidence that going through this woop process can help us achieve a whole range of different goals, including exercising, eating, healthier studying, managing time, pursuing personal goals when we're feeling depressed, stopping ourselves from clingy or jealous behaviors in our relationships and actually improving the quality of our relationships, overcoming things like regret and anger coming to better and fairer outcomes in negotiations. And there's even been an adaptation of Woop showing promising results with reducing prejudice, intolerance and xenophobia. Now the group is not the whole story. First of all, I want to be really clear. I do not think whoop is the be all end all solution to racism or discrimination. And more broadly, not all goals are blocked because of internal obstacles. Not everything is psychological in nature. There are a whole bunch of very concrete objective obstacles out in the broader world. And so a lot of times we need other sorts of supports. Besides psychological tools, we need practical help from other people, from society, from governments and so on. That said, if you're feeling a little bit stuck or blocked from achieving a goal, and if you think that at least part of the issue might be kind of an internal block, a time when we're getting in our own way, then whoop can be a good option to try to get unstuck. So I walk you through the process. Now, the first step, W. Is wish. And this is where we ask ourselves what is my wish? What do I want to change? What do I want to achieve? And we want to be pretty specific here. We also want to pick something that feels challenging but still reasonable. The time frame for it is totally up to you. It could be a wish of something that you want to accomplish today, where it could be a wish of something you would want to accomplish this week or this month. But that's step one is to just get clear. What is my wish? What is it that I want to do? The second step, the 1st 0 in Woop is for outcome. And this is where we really get ourselves motivated by thinking about the best possible outcome. If we were actually able to achieve that thing, fulfill that wish, Do that thing that we've been wanting to do and we want to give ourselves a few minutes to really think about, How would that feel? How would that change things in my life? And this is the time that it can be really helpful to take a couple minutes to imagine that vividly now if we get a little bit stuck with this Oh, the best outcomes. If we just can't think of anything that would actually be better if we achieved this, then it could be a good moment to pause the process, reflect and take stock. Is this really the right wish for me to be working on? Is this really my wish or goal? Or is it just something that I think I'm supposed to want Now the next oh, in Woop stands for obstacles. And this is where we really get very clear eyed and realistic about what is standing in our way. Why haven't we already accomplished this thing? And of course, if it were easy, if there were no obstacles, we would have already done it. So this is the moment for us to really explore what the blocks are. And as I mentioned before, it can be particularly productive when we're using a tool like whoop toe. Look at the sort of internal obstacles or the things that are under our control. So if we think about, for example, someone who wants to start a restaurant, one of the obstacles might be that they don't have tons of start up cash to get it going, and that's not something that's going to be solved through a quick, psychologically based tool. However, if there are some internal blocks that have been preventing this person from going for it or from seeking out loans, whatever it might be, then they might still be able to use this tool to explore and resolve make some progress on those aspects. So we're asking ourselves, What are the obstacles? How am I perhaps getting in my own way or getting stuck? And maybe it's something like anxiety. We're perfectionism all or nothing thinking embarrassment, to tell others that we have the school or some sort of habit That's not serving us like procrastination or distraction or finding that we somehow have always left our hardest but most important tasks to the end of the day where they keep getting turfed. Now, after we've come up with those obstacles, then we do the fourth step P, and that's the plan for how we're going to overcome those obstacles. And this plan could be any number of things. It could be some form of action, or it could be a thought, a more helpful motivating thought that we remind ourselves off when we're getting a bit stuck, and it can be helpful to form this plan as an if then formula where we say, if this really specific obstacle comes up, then I'm going to do this really specific plan. And that way we're not requiring our future self toe. Have to do a lot of complex troubleshooting on the spot. We've already got something set up for that future self saying, If you hit this specific problem, then do this specific thing. All right, so now you've got a sense of this woop tool, and I want to give you a few options for things that you might or might not choose to dio to continue your learning and put this into practice. So one option is you could do a group process. Or right now, you could give yourself about five minutes somewhere that you won't be distracted, that you have some relative calm and just write down those four letters and go through the four steps coming up with your wish, your best outcomes. You're obstacles, and you're if then plans. Another option is that you can actually download the app that was developed by Gabrielle Engine. You would just go to wherever you usually get. APS taping W 00 p. I took a look at it, and it looks pretty slick and pretty useful. Another option is if you want to learn more, you can go check out the website that Gabrielle Engine made affiliated with her recent book, Whoop My life dot org's. And a final option is to talk through these four steps with a friend or family member you could consider sharing this podcast with them is an introduction to it and then have a conversation where you coach each other through these four steps, talking about each of your wishes, outcomes, obstacles and plans. All right, team. That's it for today. As always, feel free to reach out with any ideas or suggestions by sending a message to resilience. Podcast 2020 at gmail dot com. And if you like this, it would be awesome if you follow it or leave a rating, because that helps other people find it, too. All right, take care of yourselves, take care of each other and I'll see you next week