When you are on your own journey and you are looking to win your own trophy – whether in the form of losing 50 pounds or being able to fit into a certain pair jeans, swim a mile, or run a half marathon – you should always use positive motivation.
Positive motivation is using positive thoughts, attitudes, emotions and experiences to propel you forward on your journey. Negative motivation then, as you may have gathered by now, is using negative thoughts, attitudes, feelings or experiences to drive you. With your health and fitness, there should never be any negative motivation, only positive motivation.
We can use negative motivation to get a positive result, but what fun is that? I believe that negative motivation only works in certain situations, usually if it comes from an external rather than internal source. So for example, I use negative motivation to inspire my clients to use proper form: If a client reaches down to pick up a kettle bell to do a squat and they look down at the kettle bell when beginning or ending their reps, then I make them do a punishment exercise.
This use of negative motivation to get a positive result is based on my ability to watch the client and make the client get into proper form; the goal is to get them to remember the proper form. I want the discomfort of the punishment exercise to remind them to use proper form next time. Using negative motivations with yourself may not yield positive results; instead, it may result in less time working out or less time at the gym, or even possibly an injury.
Negative motivations can also sometimes turn into justifications or excuses for why you should not go to the gym or workout. Do not talk yourself into reasons why you should not be motivated to go to the gym or to get your workout for the day! These types of negative motivations get you negative results.
You miss a day at the gym that you could have used to create a more positive exit. There will be ordinary, uncontrollable instances that prevent you from going to the gym or making your workout, so there's no reason to add to these “misses” with excuses.
Negative motivation excuses add to the number of workouts you are going to miss anyway. So use positive motivation to get you in and through through as many workouts as possible and let the natural occurrences that keep you away from exercise happen without your mind interfering in the process.
Another reason to think carefully about how we motivate ourselves to get to our workouts and to eat properly is the goal setting process. As you may have experienced, once you set a goal or make a commitment to do something to better your life, it seems karma or the universe (or whatever you want to call it) puts you to the test.
Setting the goal to make positive change in your life seems to come with a flip-side which is a negativity that creeps in to test your fortitude. Because of this type of karma or universal balance we should keep our minds as clear as possible of negative motivation and as full of positive motivations to help balance the scale.
In our minds, if we are adding to the negative side immediately after we set a goal for ourselves, it is going to be easy to fail. Moreover, negative motivation leads to greater negativity. I believe it takes 80% more positive thoughts than negative thoughts to keep the balance at least neutral, because of the way most of us in this society were brought up. As a rule in life, try to accentuate the positive and push away the negative.
If in your life you have not experienced such a balance and imbalance, here's a test on my theory: Think about something you absolutely love – a favorite food, an object, a place, a video game or television show, anything as long as it's something that you absolutely enjoy. Now tell yourself you are not going to engage with that thing you love for one week.
In less than an hour you will have a heightened awareness of that thing. So, for example, if you love vanilla ice cream and you tell yourself you are not going to eat ice cream for a whole week, I guarantee you that you'll almost start smelling and tasting the ice cream right away in your mind. On the other hand, if you can accomplish taking small steps without your brain realizing these things, you are taking away this craving and will be that much closer to your end result.