Blog 12: Motivation and how to find it

Written by Jim Sheehy

As a person and a therapist, motivation is very difficult to locate and describe.  It’s like the seasons when it flourishes and then withers, springs to life when least expected and nowhere to be found despite any amount of willpower.  Probably the most frustrating quality in ‘motivation’ is its insistence on being the leader.  Imagine it had a voice: ‘You need me to get up and going.  Pause right there! Too much pressure!  I will decide when the time is right, when you and your project sync and are ready to launch!’  Quite an outspoken part of who we are.

We all know the ingredients our challenging buddy named Motivation speaks of:  sense of purpose, a reality check regarding our strengths and limitations, the awkward balance of discipline and creativity.  And that’s just inside our skin.  Buddy also enquires about outside influences: who will support and hinder us, have we a fair wind at our back financially and has what we are passionate about got an audience waiting to receive it.  What’s its unique selling point.  Even though there is an exquisite pleasure in producing something carved out of our very essence, the icing on the cake occurs when others sense and appreciate our talent. 

Down the years of our life-experience, motivation has been born out of truly wanting to be or do something, a meeting when my conscious self is stopped in its tracks by a stirring deep inside.  Even this project,, was eighteen months struggling to be accepted by conscious me.  ‘I’m too busy; what if it fails; I’m crap at social media etc.’  So, when other projects I’ve considered never materialised, why did this one succeed? 

The final push was a dream I had, which seemed to play out its story in slow motion.  Like it was for ‘Special Needs in Dreamwork’!  The message was in technicolour - ‘this project is valid; it will happen; trust yourself.’

We all know the experience of imagining what we ought to be and do.  Do those projects last?  Never, because the fuel ain’t there in the tank.  Sometimes, we need to just bounce off the ‘Bottom of our Inner Awareness’ - and can that be a bumpy ride - before our conscious self truly commits to what we really passionately and single-mindedly want to do.  There is a confluence, a nice flow and harmony between our inner and outer worlds - and everything seems possible.  Sure, when we start our project, whether joining that pilates class or moving to a new country, there is planning and organisation.  We stumble and fall like a baby giraffe seeking how to balance on 4 stilts called legs.  But it’s light, fun.  Time means nothing because the heart is on fire, the mind is buzzing and there is such good will out there ready to welcome a try-er.  We meet again our curious and playful child-capacity, our ‘risk and experimenting’ adolescent self, our optimistic and world-changing young adult zone.  We wake up and the day is optimistic, full of hiccups and emerging solutions.  We go to bed deeply satisfied and exhausted because we matter in our own little way. 

If motivation is hard to find in our lives - the job stinks, this marriage is growing stale, I just chauffeur and get belittled by the kids - we need to start with noticing perhaps one period in our week or month when we can breathe and feel what is stirring inside.  I had a male client - in his forties, married with kids, two jobs - and great in being responsible and dutiful.  But every couple of months, usually when his wife was away for a few days, he would binge-drink like beer had just been invented.  Wife gives him a hard time - back to being sober, role-playing man - till the next pent-up explosion of ‘I need a blow-out!’  Did his behaviour make sense? No, but something deep inside was stirring and screaming at his conscious self: ‘Fucking wake up and smell the coffee.  Does your wife need to chuck you out before you pause!’. 

And so to therapy where he unpacks his ‘pent-up, starving inner self’.  He lost who he was while doing many things.  And that runs out of road.  I asked him when he last sensed he breathed freedom and he spoke of having worked hundreds of mountain sheep - tracking, gathering, lambing - and finding himself one morning at dawn looking down a long valley.  He paused, the work was done.  He felt king of the mountain, alone and yet connected, he made sense in who he was as nature looked on and approved.  So in the therapy room, he began to shape that experience into an activity that he had dreamt of pursuing.  Doubts, obstacles, excuses!  Loads of them!  Now though he had choice and autonomy.  Either nourish his development as a man in his forties with a right to HIS TIME zoned each week or let the drug anaesthetise the pain. 

Be equal with yourself and others in tending this fragile plant we call motivation.  We ALL struggle with it.  Blow gently at first, like starting a camp fire, choosing the right kindling.  Then ask our buddy Motivation how to feed the fire - a wee chat with someone, a book on the subject that interests us.  Mainly, the essential and only requirement that will carry you from beginning to end, through every obstacle and rejection is TRUST YOURSELF.

So, just to finish and bullet-point the steps:

Be patient while your conscious self catches up on what your subconscious has planned for you

Clean out the drains that clog our brains - historical stuff, current toxic relationships, whether family or friends

Build a support network - a team you absolutely like and trust.  There are lots of good people who want to cluster around someone who tries to improve our planet - socially, environmentally, technologically.

The young persons of today are leading the charge - check out what they’re at

Discover your passion, be prepared for rejection, come back a second time stronger and better


Presentations on the 4 zones are also available on video and blog through the website – see

If you enjoy the material, please get the word out there among those you care for.  You can contact me with comment or suggestion via Facebook at Jim Sheehy Therapy and on Twitter @jimsheehy2017

Take care,

Clarifying Disclaimer:  While the material I am presenting is well-researched and suitable for the general population, I believe each person’s issues and needs are unique.  I encourage you to seek medical and/or therapeutic support if you struggle with an issue or condition that negatively and seriously impacts your life.







Contact me:

Jim Sheehy M.Ed. MIACP
Co Donegal 
F94 WV99

087 2137922


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