Dealing with painful emotions is hard. That’s a lot harder than it sounds because the reality is that when you are depressed, you don’t feel motivated. And as a result, you can’t do much of anything. It’s a vicious cycle that is perpetuated when we think of motivation as a quasi-mystical energy source that happens to strike us from time to time. That’s not agency, and depression is a consequence of a lack of positive reinforcement.
When our focus is strictly on the goal, we neglect the one-little-forward-step-after-another moments — the small wins — that lead to those big breakthroughs. By breaking things down into smaller steps, we may discover the smallest increment of an obstacle and execute. We call this Behavioral Activation.
Every achievement activates our brain’s reward circuitry, the same self-processing and evaluation structures that are involved in happiness. These pathways open up and we get the deeply satisfying release of dopamine which leaves us feeling energized, and confident. This creates a steady stream of motivation and demonstrates to ourselves a new story where we may celebrate our successes.
It is the incremental forward momentum that small wins bring and acknowledging the small wins in our lives is key. In fact, we have to do more than acknowledge them: we should celebrate them. So, let’s go all in. Let’s have a running commentary on our wins.
Dr. Rigobert Kefferputz is an international speaker, featured on podcasts and live television. He is the founder of Hyperion Integrative Health Centre, a Naturopathic Medical Retreat Centre in Canada. As a board member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, he advocates on behalf of the naturopathic profession federally. Dr. Kefferputz has recently created a YouTube channel where he shares his enthusiasm around health and creates momentum in helping people discover themselves and bring the joy of life back into living.
To read more about Dr. Rigo Kefferputz visit our Pascoe Experts page.