motivations other than anxiety

from evy's notebook

I worry pretty often. I worry about making mistakes, I worry about annoying people, I worry about hurting people's feelings, I worry about missing deadlines, I worry about becoming consumed by anxiety and never being happy again.

In the past, I thought these worries were a necessary evil for being on top of my shit. I was kind because I worried about bothering people. I never had to stay up all night to finish homework on time because I worried about not having enough time to do my work well. I took care of my mental health because I worried about feeling bad. It becomes especially clear in that last example that this isn't a particularly efficient strategy - to not feel too anxious I have to... feel anxious about anxiety? A little over a year ago, a friend called me out on this bullshit, and I often think back to what they said:

"You can be motivated by things other than worrying."

Maybe this is obvious to some people, but it took me a while to really believe it, and to even really notice how often I motivated myself with anxiety of all kinds. I motivated myself to respond to days-old messages through guilt. I motivated myself to carefully edit my writing through fear of judgment. But what does other motivation even look like? Here are some examples of how I've shifted the focus of my motivation:

This shifts my focus from what I don't want to happen to what I do want to happen, which conveniently also makes it easier to live a life closer to the things I actually want.

Now that I know I can be motivated by things other than anxiety, does that mean I just won't be anxious anymore? No, definitely not. I even think short-term experiences of anxiety can be useful for noticing what I want to change or be careful around, but the way anxiety skews my thought processes makes it a lot less useful for actually executing on things.

But knowing that I can be motivated by things other than anxiety, and noticing when I fall into the trap of believing otherwise, has overall helped me feel less anxious and do more of the things that I want. It's sometimes really hard for me to think of better motivators, or to actually believe they're better, but it's been very worth it to me to try.