There are many pictures used to describe problems around motivation. One that’s used a lot is this: A horse led to water, who refuses to drink. Close to this is the picture of the proverbial “stubborn mule”. Mixing these pictures together, automatically thinking that the horse isn’t drinking because it’s refusing to – that it’s just being a nuiscance for the sake of it, can be a mistake.
Applying “stubborness” to someone with an aquired brain injury can be unfair and misleading. Yes, the person may appear disinterested, may well be unmotivated. But there are two important questions to ask:-
1) Q: What is motivation?
A: “A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”. (O.E.D.)
2) Q: What motivates reasoning?
A: Feeling unsafe. Due to hunger, lack of shelter or being cared for, or craving social status.
NOT being motivated (as some people might see it) might in truth be VERY motivated.
The person “not doing anything” may in truth be doing many things. Things like:-
1) Regaining energy after doing what they did yesterday
2) Avoiding standing out from the crowd
3) Stopping themselves making mistakes
4) Avoiding making his or her self see they are unable to do the things they used to in the way they still want to.
5) “Torpor”. Torpor is a tough one. I’m using the word to describe a state of disconnection between something that in the past would have been acted upon but which after their brain injury, there is a present indifference to.
Here’s a link to a vlog entry by a young woman talking through her own problems with motivation: Click here to hear what she has to say.
What’s important to note is her linking stamina to motivation. Her ongoing research is, I think, proof of her personal motivation. She is positive that she WILL achieve what she wants.
Just to end this month’s post, here’s a little story for rescuers and readers finding yourselves stuck. I found it a big help. I hope you do too.
Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him day by day. After some time, the beggar finally beckoned to him.
“Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out.”
The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard wall of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison. Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open.
Out flopped a wet, brown, ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened, he explained to the boy: “In order for the butterfly wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle you took away from him his only chance of survival.”
May the walls of your cocoon be just thick enough to allow you to struggle just long enough to emerge strong enough.