I have been reflecting a lot on the concept of motivation. The line that is drawn between being inspired and taking action. How can you hear a compelling and riveting motivational speech and be moved to make changes after you walk away from the auditorium?
This past Saturday was the Chicago NEDA Walk. It was the perfect fall day. Cool breeze, sun out, dry ground. I felt blessed. We all felt blessed as person after person took the stage and announced “record breaking year” or “you deserve to keep fighting” or “there is no one like yourself”. It was a powerful morning of 700 individuals ranging from those personally affected by an eating disorder to support persons and professionals in the field, all fighting together. We all walked to save lives, to end stigma, to break the silence that suffocates those who are struggling with eating disorders.
It is OKAY to get help.
It is OKAY to simply be you.
And I left the morning with warmth stirring in my chest and a smile plastered across my face because of the motivation seeping from one person’s journey onto my own. To know that I am not alone in this fight to reduce stigma. I do not have to feel isolated in my eating disorder or ashamed or small.
We all matter.
Where then did this sinking feeling in my chest come from? This overhanging cloud of “uh oh” that was following me around? It was a powerful morning. It was inspiring. But I worry, about myself, about my friends, about anyone who’s struggling with mental health that they won’t finish the equation of healing.
Motivation/Purpose/Passion/Hope + Action = Recovery.
I know for myself that I have many moments of awakening. These are when I see my Higher Power and the beauty in life. These moments give me hope in my ability to uncover total freedom from my eating disorder. They keep me fighting. But the moments are fleeting. I don’t say this to bring us all down or so that we start to see the glass as half empty. I say this, instead, to try and be more real. Life is mountaintop moments, but it is also the times when you feel normal, okay, good, or blah. It is the dark days, the long nights, the hard meals. Life is walking alongside 700 people fighting against eating disorders and scrolling through your Facebook feed to see another lost to the disease. It is the week without any homework and the following week with five midterms. It is peace and stress, uncomfortability and rest, and everything in between.
So it brings me to the question what is the key to allowing these fleeting moments of motivation to translate into action? Because, if in recovery we only followed our meal plan when we felt inspired, or only practiced other self-care activities after a motivational speech, how would we ever move forward?
Sadly, I don’t know that I have an answer to my question. And, quite frankly, I don’t think there is one answer. I think the answer to what compels us to take action changes with each day. It might be a Higher Power, faith, spirituality. It might be your family, your kids. It might be your job, your art. Maybe there is a song that gives you strength to make breakfast or call someone you’ve been avoiding or make an appointment with a doctor. This is a powerful tool to uncover though because once you find what motivates you and gives you purpose, you have found the fix to the “stuck” mentality of recovery. Once you find passion you start to believe in action. So search for your key to action and whatever it is fill your days with reminders of it. Put up notes on your mirror, write in on your hand, change your phone’s background. Keep yourself near to that fighting fire. My hope for everyone who struggles with mental health is that they may be able to continue walking forward. They may continue translating the motivational speech into a reason to leave the auditorium and do something. But I know how hard this is, which is why I get discouraged sometimes.
I have a grey cloud looming over my head because I know how difficult constantly acting and fighting can be. Especially when you get yourself in a slump. You fall for the eating disorder’s lies and then suddenly that action step feels so much harder than it did before you gave in. I know that it can seem impossible to get back on track and start taking control of your life again. I know because that has been me more times than I can count. Sometimes, when you get in this space it requires added troops to pull you along, to keep you from staying stuck and failing to take action.
Added support does not equate to failure.
Quite the opposite, adding support is ACTION.
It is leaving the auditorium and doing something.
There is always something that can be done. The NEDA walk was a great reminder of that. After the walk, I am now inspired to re evaluate my current state, see what is my key towards action, fill my week with reminders of it, and then keep trucking forward. After all, when you are in recovery constant movement is so important. It is a time where we evolve and change and grow. So let’s allow ourselves to do just that.