What if motivation isn't real?

TJL #146

What if motivation isn't real? What if motivation is just our imagination playing tricks on us? Do we even need motivation?

The reason I’m thinking this is because, in this lockdown, I’ve often felt like not doing stuff… in other words, you could say I’m lacking motivation.

The problem is that once I start doing stuff, my motivation suddenly picks up and we enter this virtuous cycle of doing stuff and getting more motivated to do more stuff. On the other hand, if we don’t do anything we end up in this vicious cycle of not doing anything and then feeling worse about ourselves. Repeat ad nauseam.

Then suddenly I had this epiphany (I think) and connected this phenomena with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Because the fundamental idea behind CBT is that how you think influences how you feel. Your thinking shapes your emotions, and not the other way around.

What if motivation is the same? What if our actions shape our motivation, and not the other way around? Is this true? If so, what implications does it have? Can I test this question? Can I gather data? I’ve only answered a couple of these questions but so far the data that I’ve personally collected is… quite in favour of this hypothesis. If I don’t do things, I feel bad about myself. If I do things, I feel less bad about myself.