Motivation. A lockdown challenge?

As part of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week we take a look at how we can boost our motivation by delving into our strengths.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan's research into intrinsic motivation and their Self Determination Theory tells us that there are three basic components that contribute to our motivation.

C - Competence This relates to our sense of how effective we are at doing something. The more we are able to master our environment, the more competent we feel. Think, which tasks, activities and jobs and hobbies do you find yourself spending time getting better at?

A - Autonomy This is where we make choices and decisions based on our own personal values. Creating ourselves the opportunities and space to choose how we react to situations can improve our motivation.

R - Relatedness Our sense of feeling connected. Being able to share with others, learn from others and work with others gives us a sense of belonging and purpose and helps us regulate our emotions.

Do you get the feeling that these are in poor supply right now?

The motivation game

  1. First discover your strengths: You can do this in a group of friends, as a family or on your own.

With others - Send a message to each person in your group telling them what you think their strengths are. You could do this in a social media group or on paper if you're in the same household.

Alone - Think about your ways of being that give you energy or the things you would choose to do first, the things you've always liked doing and that you would do voluntarily, without being asked. Or think about your favourite film or show. Which character are you most like and why? How do they act that is similar to you? What are their traits? What would you say their strengths are?

Check out the VIA Character Strengths Survey to find your top 5. There is one for 10-17 years and one for adults.

2. Then find your opportunities to use your strengths: List how many opportunities you have in a week to use your strengths. Are there many? Are you taking those opportunities or are you missing them? If there aren't any opportunities, what can you do to create some?

If you are doing this with friends or family, name the roles each of you play that are linked to your individual strengths. For example, who is the funny one, who is the listener, who is the communicator, the doer, the planner, the thinker, the creative one. Where do you see yourself fitting in to the wider world or in your group with your strengths and roles? If you are doing this alone, think about what role you can play in your environment.

3. Now play: Organise an activity where you all use your strengths and take on that role. Make dinner together, exercise, plan a game or a sport, create a piece of art or a song, a play, a collage of photographs, a collaboration online, a competition.

Find small choices where you feel they may have been taken away from you lately.

Find ways to regain competence and that feeling of mastery over the things you value, even if it's the washing-up!

Use new ways of 'getting together' to help others feel reattached to someone.

Notice how driving that CAR affects your mood and your motivation.

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