Why Tough Love Is Not the Tactic to Use as Self-Motivation

1 July 2024
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Shifting from tough love self-talk to self-compassion is the key to a difference in how you motivate yourself, by turning your best intentions into commitment.

This blog feels so necessary after time with a client (who has allowed me to share with you) who has been working through why she cannot turn her intentions for herself into action.
At one point, her frustration escalated, and she started spewing unkind statements about herself. She was downright mad at herself for her inability to keep a beneficial promise to herself.
As I listened to her harsh self-criticism and witnessed how unkind she was, I stopped her and repeated some of the things she had said to herself, asking her how she felt hearing it back.
Of course, that sparked a different type of emotion. The one I want my clients to get to when they realise how unconsciously unkind, they are to themselves. I bet this is true for you too.
Especially when you set out to achieve, change, or brave something that you know will be good for you, and then you cannot bring yourself to follow through.

Along the journey of any kind of growth or change, it takes bravery and willpower, and it has become common practice to use tough-love techniques when you cannot motivate yourself.

Some that make me want to wrap my arms around the person using them on themselves include:
•  “Trying is lying.”
•  “Push through the pain.”
•  “No excuses.”
•  “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
•  “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”
•  “Go hard or go home.”
•  “Success is your duty, obligation, and responsibility.”
•  “Excuses are for losers.”

When you cannot get started or take the next brave step and you try to push yourself through tough love, you unconsciously dialogue with low self-esteem and echo voices from those who once hurt you or your past experiences.
The ego mind speaks through two distinct voices: the victim and the child. When your ego mind takes over, it is challenging to move forward with confidence because it is the voice that lacks esteem and worthiness.
This is where it all goes wrong.
It has become common to hear forceful self-talk as the solution to a lack of motivation or bravery.

These harsh commands often mirror how you were spoken to as children and are hindering your progress instead of inspiring you because the ego becomes resistant and goes into emotional self-defence.

The solution is the opposite of forcing yourself into action.
Instead, embracing kindness and compassion totally transforms your intentions into the magic formula that creates confidence and turns it into action.
To start doing it differently, you need to begin by understanding the ego mind.

The ego mind is a part of your psyche deeply intertwined with your authentic self. It is shaped by your past experiences when you showed up as your true self and used your traits innocently in the world around you.
As you did so, particularly in childhood, the way you were responded to and perceived by the outside world moulded all future responses and actions.
I mentioned earlier that the ego voices are the victim and the child.

The voice of the victim emerges from past experiences of being criticised, belittled, or hurt.
It tells you that you are powerless, reinforcing feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, with the response being to victimise yourself before you can be victimised by others.

The voice of the child is programmed from early conditioning and the moments you felt lost, alone, afraid, or abandoned. This voice either creates messaging that makes you co-dependent or overly independent as your way of surviving the outside world.

These ego voices create a mental environment that makes it difficult to motivate yourself from a kind and compassionate place. The reasoning behind this is self-defence, which is how self-preservation manifests.

Now it is time to understand the problem with tough love talk.
When you push yourself with statements like “trying is lying” or “pull yourself together,” you may think you are motivating yourself, but you are triggering yourself and blocking your ability to turn intention into action.
These forceful statements trigger the voices of the victim and the child, reinforcing feelings of inadequacy and fear. Instead of feeling empowered, you will feel overwhelmed and stuck.
This kind of self-talk mirrors the ways you were spoken to as children. It creates a cycle of stress and resistance, making it harder to take action.
Rather than encouraging yourself, these tough love words unconsciously remind the ego of past failures and reinforce negative self-beliefs.
Forceful tough love is not inspiring or motivating. It overlooks the underlying reasons for your resistance and inability to follow through on your best intentions for yourself.
It does not address the emotions or fears that are holding you back. As a result, you end up in a constant battle with yourself, which perpetuates your wound and causes resistance.

The Importance of Kindness and Compassion

Shifting from tough love self-talk to a more compassionate approach is the key to a significant difference in how you motivate yourself and turn your best intentions into commitment.
When you speak to yourself with kindness and understanding, you create a supportive emotional environment where growth and resilience become instinctive.
Kindness and compassion help to soothe the voices of the victim and the child, offering reassurance and comfort instead of criticism.
This gentle approach of acknowledging your struggles and fears without judgement allows you to move forward with ease.

Whenever I hear myself being harsh and driving myself with motivation that is cloaked in force, I remind myself of a simple yet powerful tool that has helped me immensely.
My father used to call me JoJo, and just thinking of that nickname softens my temperament.
I talk myself down, and it becomes my gentle reminder to treat myself with the same kindness and love he showed me.
I have also taken the time to understand my confident traits and empathise with myself when my low-esteem behaviours take over.

Practicing Self-Awareness to Implement Kindness and Compassion

When I talked my client through her tough-love meltdown, I focused on helping her understand and navigate herself back to the strengths within her blueprint with kindness and self-awareness.
We got her to a feeling of true motivation, which came from a place of empathy and understanding, not from harsh self-criticism.
Together, we transformed her inner dialogue into self-compassion.

The key is understanding and addressing the root causes of self-sabotage and resistance. I guide my clients towards achieving their goals in a more fulfilling and sustainable way.

This approach emphasises the importance of self-kindness and the transformative power it can have on one’s journey to personal growth and achievement.

By treating yourself with the same care and empathy you would offer a friend, you build a healthier relationship with your inner self. This not only improves your mental well-being but also enhances your ability to take effective action. Compassionate self-talk encourages you to understand and address the root causes of your resistance, making it easier to overcome obstacles and stay motivated.

As you move forward, be mindful of your self-talk and strive to cultivate a voice that uplifts and supports you. Embrace the journey with kindness, and you’ll find that turning your intentions into action becomes a more achievable and fulfilling process.

If you find yourself struggling with this approach or facing resistance, know that you don’t have to do it alone.
I am here to guide you through understand these challenges, and guide you through the process. Together, we can uncover the root causes of your resistance and develop strategies to move forward with confidence and compassion.

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