Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
This is an age-old question that’s had many of us thinking in circles, for years. Fortunately, once I was introduced to the concept of biological evolution, the answer became clear. The first chicken had a mutation that was distinct enough to classify it as a different species than its mother. Therefore, the egg came first because the chicken’s mother was not a chicken, yet she produced the egg that contained the first chicken.
That makes sense, right?
Yes and no. You can refute evolutionary theory to conclude that the chicken came first. But I’m completely satisfied with my answer because it is directed by logic. Today, I would like to explore what I think of as the “Chicken or Egg” question when dealing with our inability to make progress when we are overwhelmed by Anxiety or Depression.
Here is the question:
When you are stuck in an anxious or depressed state, how do you make your first step towards progress? Do you wait for the right moment, when you feel motivated, or do you take action without the motivation, directed by logic?
The simplified question would be:
Which comes first, “Action” or “Motivation“?
This question can have us thinking in circles because we often only do things after we have found the motivation. But, if we always wait for motivation, that basically means that we are ruled by our feelings. And with anxiety and depression, our distorted thoughts create feelings that do us a disservice by convincing us that we have to feel good to make progress. This leaves us waiting, indefinitely, for the perfect moment that never comes.
There is only one logical solution to our problem: if we really want to be in control of our own destiny, we have to stop waiting for motivation and start taking, logical, action first. When we take action first, any success we witness will motivate us to continue taking action. And more importantly, it reinforces the fact that our distorted feelings don’t have to rule us.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be difficult to do something without motivation. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. When we take action first, we start a continuous Action/Motivation cycle, and suddenly we find ourselves making progress on purpose.
I first talked about “Action Before Motivation” on 11/28/2014
The Action/Motivation cycle was introduced to me in the therapy book, “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy“, written by the psychiatrist that popularized cognitive behavioral therapy, Dr. David D. Burns.