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How Non Coercive And Coercive Self Motivation Feel Different

Learning non-coercive self motivation (a.k.a Unjobbing) is a huge project for me. I’ve been writing about my progress in this matter for at least two years.

Non-coercive self motivation means doing things out of positive motivation (I want to do this) rather than negative motivation (I should/must do this, I’m a lazy horrible person for not doing this, do this). It feels good and makes the things I’m doing feel good. It also means ending a sort of internal war, and not going through cycles of laziness (resistance to self domination) and discipline (successful self domination).

Recently, I felt like I made some significant progress by learning to identify the feelings of coercive and non-coercive motivation better.

Identifying The Feelings Of Coercive Vs. Non-Coercive Motivation

I realised that I feel coercive motivation behind me somehow, like a force that is pushing me to do something. On the other hand non-coercive motivation feels like it’s in front of me, somehow. Or at least, I need to focus on something that seems to be in front of me.

Coercive motivation means a focus on my action, pushing myself to do something which I think will have a positive effect. On the other hand, non-coercive motivation means a focus on what I want. To gain non-coercive motivation, I think about the things I want in a joyful way until I feel like it’s natural and effortless to start doing the actions I need to get that outcome. Even as I’m working, there is often more focus on what I want, my vision, than on what I need to do to get there.

Coercive motivation feels heavy and painful, non-coercive motivation feels light and joyful.

I don’t know if everyone will feel these different motivations behind or in front like I do. For me, this simple distinction helped me identify the feelings much better. Perhaps for others, the best way is to simply inquire into your feelings, and try and work out what the different motivations feel like for you.

For the last few days, I’ve been living based on my new insight and I have felt both more productive and more joyful. I’ve also noticed I’ve spent less time on Facebook (to be exact: I have felt less desire to be on Facebook), which is a positive sign as Facebook seems to be my main outlet for resistance against coercive motivation.

Cleaning My Room

I tried cleaning my room the day before yesterday. Cleaning my room is very symbolic for me, as it was one of the biggest battles I had with my parents: they told me to clean it, I told them it was none of their business what I did in my personal space, and I felt compelled to leave it messy just to make a point.

Learning to clean in general was hard for me when I started to live alone. I felt an intense resistance to it, harking back to these power struggles I had with my parents. But, seeing as I had to learn to co-exist with my roommates, I did it, and eventually it became easier and less of a struggle.

But so far my room had been the last bastion of this internal resistance. It didn’t bother my roommates if I left it messy, and my initial resistance to cleaning it was perhaps stronger than my resistance to cleaning in general.

Doing Something Different

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to clean my room at some point. Then, two days ago, I noticed I had been putting it off, as usual. But this time, with my new insight into non-coercive self motivation, I decided to do something different.

I sat on my sofa, and sort of meditated. First, I identified my coercive self motivation, a red, angry, dark feeling behind my back sort of pushing me forward. Then, I chose not to use that force. I let it go.

This left me in a place of no motivation. This place can be scary if you’re not used to using non-coercive self motivation, as you imagine that without that motivation you’ll be lazy forever. But I was used to it, now.

From that place, I started to look at my room, to look at how messy it was. I started to think about how I would like it to be. I stayed in that passive state, imagining a better room and feeling the good feelings of having a better room, until it felt like my body wanted to move almost of its own accord. I rode that wave, getting up and starting to work.

Occasionally it felt like I might slip back into coercive motivation, so I simply paid attention to where my focus was going, making sure I wasn’t putting any of that heavy pressure behind me, and focusing on the nice visions of a better room that I imagined in front of me.


Unjobbing And Dejobbing

How To (Give Yourself Permission To) Rest

“Things I Think I Should Do But Don’t” (Creating Better Habits)

Productivity For Absolute Beginners

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