I have a serious issue with self motivation. I cannot seem to force myself to do anything I don’t have the urge to do ie: housework. I am wondering if my past can affect me in this way. I grew up in a home where my brother abused me and my 2 sisters mentally, physically and sexually until my parents found out when I was 9 and they subsequently divorced. I have zero memories until age 16, but I am told I was mostly beaten and intentionally scared. I am told my mother put me in counseling after she found out but I wouldn’t participate. I also went through a period of 6 months when my soon to be husband was abusive but he got therapy and we did a group therapy “dealing with emotions” course together and we have been happily married for 11 years now. I do have some issues with anxiety and fears and insomnia. I have had depression in the past (I haven’t been depressed in 2 years but was depressed a lot before that). Could this be the cause of my self motivation problem? And is self motivation something that can be helped through therapy?
A: It’s hard to say if your past history of abuse is contributing to the self motivation issue, but it certainly could be. I’m wondering if there are other areas of your life you feel that it’s a problem. I’d say most of us find it difficult to motivate ourselves to do things like housework ;) It’s easiest to procrastinate about things we don’t particularly enjoy or we find monotonous.
However, issues with motivation could also be a symptom of depression, although a less obvious one. Since you have struggled with depression in the past, this symptom could be a lingering issue, as well as the insomnia.
Considering the extent of abuse that you reportedly experienced and that you weren’t ready for therapy as a child/teen, I think it would be a great time to revisit it. The fact that you have blocked out many of the memories, doesn’t mean that the experiences haven’t affected you. Sometimes the effects of abuse are so ingrained that they really seem more like part of our personality than an actual symptom, such as feeling “not good enough,” excessive guilt, perfectionism, and so forth. Furthermore, your anxiety and insomnia could be related to the abuse you experience as well, as a partial PTSD reaction.
Even if your issues with motivation are not related to the abuse or to depression, I still think therapy would be helpful, especially a therapist trained in Cognitive-Behavioral treatments or EMDR.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jul 2014
Counts, H. (2014). Would Therapy Do Me Any Good?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/07/13/would-therapy-do-me-any-good/