By Emily Roberts, MA, LPC
It is hard to feel motivated sometimes but you can feel motivated and confident with this dialectical behavior therapy skill, or DBT skill. Confidence can take a hit when we are feeling unmotivated and uninspired, leading to a bleak view about ourselves and the world we live in. Building mastery is a DBT skill that helps you feel a sense of confidence in control with your surroundings and within yourself. Essentially it means doing things that make you feel accomplished, whether getting better at something you already feel confident about or learning something new. It’s a great DBT skill to use when you want to feel more motivated and confident but just don’t know where to start.
When you feel depressed or anxious it is difficult to feel motivated and confident. It can be exhausting to move out of the mindset that you’re currently in. But, I have good news for you. Building mastery means doing anything you can see yourself improving at (or gaining mastery over).
This DBT Skill Will Help You Feel Motivated and Confident Even on Bad Days
For me, when I’m feeling stuck in a rut or unmotivated, every day feels like Groundhog Day. It’s uneventful, I focus on the negative and don’t get much done. I don’t feel as confident in myself because I’m just focusing on the mundane tasks or trying to get through the day. This totally impacts my confidence and my mood.
If you’re not feeling motivated, even daily tasks can seem overwhelming. Building mastery doesn’t have to be a huge task. Sometimes it’s as simple as making yourself dinner or responding to an email. If you’re really struggling with your emotions, starting with some of these smaller things can build up confidence to remind you that you are capable, which then gives you the motivation to move on to larger things.
You may be thinking, “Emily, I don’t have the energy for this.”
I hear ya, and I know you have the energy for some of it. Start here: What are your goals or intentions? If it’s to feel better than you do in this moment, that’s awesome. It could be to get out of bed, take a shower or finally tackle that project you’ve wanted to accomplish for years. Identify what is driving you to do the smallest thing. It could be to add in more self-care, get in shape, feel more organized, learn a language or take your medication or supplements each day.
This DBT Skill Motivates You by Accomplishing Small Tasks
Next, do anything that builds mastery. It doesn’t have to be regarding the goal above. It could be that you do something that makes you feel more in control of your life. For one of my clients, even if she didn’t get her homework done, she would try and do one thing to make her feel in control and confident, such as take her medication or eat a healthy meal. After she does this (yay), she often feels motivated, realizing that she is doing something that makes her confident and in control, also known as, building mastery. So another tiny step forward, such as 15 minute of homework, doesn’t seem as challenging.
Later that same day, this young woman decided to organize medication in her weekly pill box and put it in her book bag. The homework came next and she didn’t finish it all that day, it took time, but she was able to feel more motivated and confident after doing these tasks.
If you are getting overwhelmed with the big goal, don’t focus on it. In fact, do something totally different.
Another one of my clients is applying for jobs. The goal is to get a job. Sometimes it can be too much. When that happens I help her look at another area of her life she wants to build mastery in, such as cleaning her apartment or organizing her room. Just taking 10 minutes to see how many articles of clothing she can put away can help her feel motivated and in a more confident mindset to then move towards job searching again.
How do you build mastery and feel motivated in your life, even on rough days? Try breaking big goals into small, achievable ones and you will feel more confident and in control of your life.
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