The power of negative motivation

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The power of negative motivation

Negative motivation is the type of motivation a person experiences when he either gets exposed to something that he doesn't like or when he imagines himself getting exposed to that thing.

Just like a person pulls his hand away when he touches a hot object he also does his best to run away from the situations that could harm his well being when he encounters them.

When a person experiences what he never wanted to experience or when he visualizes these situations he becomes motivated to move in the opposite direction and to change his life to the better.

So how can you use the power of negative motivation to your side?
This is the question i am going to answer in this article.

How to use the power of negative motivation

So how can you use the power of negative motivation?
Here is what you should do:

  • Put yourself under pressure on intention: If you were broke and if you wanted to motivate yourself to make more money then spend more! Sounds like a weird advice but when you do that you will experience extreemly intense emotions that will motivate you to find another way to make money. We humans have a certain ability to withstand pain but once this pain exceeds a certain threshold we will do our best to restore our emotional balance once again. Your job in this case is to force the pain to exceed this threshold but in a safe way.
  • Visualize the worst outcome: In some cases you wont be able to force yourself to experience the unpleasant event. For example you should never force yourself to fail in an exam just to motivate yourself to study. So in such a case visualization will do the job. Visualize the negative outcome until you exceed your pain endurance threshold and you will find yourself eagerly motivated to avoid experiencing the situation you visualized (see also How to visualize what you want)

How to not use negative motivation

If you used negative motivation incorrectly you might end up losing motivation and feeling down.

In order to make sure you use negative motivation correctly make sure that:

  • You already have a plan: In my book, The ultimate guide to getting over depression i said that frustration always leads to depression. If you didn't have a plan then you used negative motivation you are more likely to get depressed than motivated. The main idea of negative motivation is making sure that you have a plan to follow before intensifying your negative emotions.
  • Don't harm yourself: In order to use negative motivation without harming yourself you need to put psychological pressure on yourself without actually doing something unsafe. For example reminding yourself of the fact that you hate your job is a good example of negative motivation while spending all of your money to motivate yourself to make more money is a bad example.

Negative motivation is a double edged sword. It can give you a motivation boost that no other motivation method can provide you with however if you used it incorrectly then you might get depressed.

Only use negative motivation when you are sure of what you are doing.

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