Motivation & The Nervous System

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Questions around certain topics seem to come in waves, and at the moment, I’ve been getting a lot of questions arriving in my inbox around the topic of motivation. Let’s talk about this briefly from a nervous system perspective.

For many of us, when we hear the words “sympathetic nervous system”, we automatically think of the flight and fight response. Often what our knowledge is limited to, however, is the response of our system under threat, and we pay little attention to what the “healthy” or balanced version of the same looks like.

The fight and flight response of our body is welcome and necessary; when we are in situations where mobilization and action are required, we want our system to respond in a way that moves us towards safety in whatever way is appropriate for the moment. The fight/ flight response is exactly that; a protective function that allows us to defend ourselves or move out of harms way when if and when the need arises.

In a responsive system- a system that can mobilise when necessary and also relax when in a situation of relative safety- the sympathetic system is what gives us focus, drive, and power. We want a little bit of sympathetic activation in order for there to be enough energy and drive within to move us towards the actions and outcomes we are looking to create.

Finding ourselves procrastinating or lacking motivation means that we need to consider the overall regulation of our nervous system, to ensure we have the right parts “switched on” when we need them, and the right parts switched off. It pays to look beyond some of the more popularized “go-to’s” for ongoing lack of motivation or drive (I’m thinking time management “issues”, accountability or even internalized notions of laziness and not having what it takes) to look at the bigger picture and consider how it is we can soften the edges of the freeze or resistance so we can allow for and hold more energy and activation in the container of our body.

It’s more often than not a case of feeling our way into it, rather than thinking our way out of it.

What shows up in my body when I go to do this thing?

And how can I move forward in a way that feels supported, and where I have resources to draw on that makes it feel safe to do so?


❤️ Jane

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