If you’d like to be more motivated in an area of your life, don’t try to drum up more motivation. Instead, focus on changing how you see yourself.
Whether you’re lying on the sofa in front of the TV or outside working in the yard, you’re motivated. Your motivation level is not the issue.
How you see yourself is.
Everyone’s internal motivation mechanism works like this: It perpetually tries to move you toward a more complete version of who you believe yourself to be. Not who you believe you should be (which is how most people approach motivation), but who you believe you are.
This dynamic is true whether talking about exercise, food, sex, spiritual disciplines, relationships—you name it. Whatever images you have of yourself, motivation will power you up to act accordingly.
This is why religion isn’t great at truly changing people. Religion looks at outward behavior and judges accordingly. If you’re doing well, you’re good. If you’re doing poorly, you’re not. And either way, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
Life with Jesus is different. His cross affirms your worth before you’ve done a thing. And he takes old, faulty images you have of yourself and gives new and good ones in their place.
So in those areas where you’re struggling to change, here are some steps that will help:
- Figure out what negative self-images you’re carrying around. Get some help from a trustworthy friend or wise counselor. And ask Jesus to help you. He knows what you’re seeing.
- When you discover a false self-image, ask Jesus to take it. In prayer, envision yourself pressing each false image into Jesus and his broken body absorbing them for you.
- Ask him to show you the man or woman he created you to be. Keep your ears, eyes, and heart open for new images. They may come through Scripture, stories, music, friends, movies, or some other way altogether. Jesus knows what will speak to you most deeply.
- Practice believing what he’s shown you. Hold to these new images like a boat in the storm. And spend lots of time with others who believe what’s true about you, too.
- Repeat steps 1 – 4 as much as necessary.
I’ve seen this approach make a huge difference in my own life as a man, a husband, a father, a leader, and as a follower of Jesus.
What about you? How has your image of yourself impacted what you’re motivated to do or not do? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
P.S. Check out Jason Gray’s fantastic video below about how we see ourselves.