The Problem With Inspirational Quotes.

In the past, religion was a much more prominent part of society and the majority of people put their faith in an ethereal being that existed outside of themselves.

For the most part, people believed that the amount of control that they had over what happened to them was limited because their life was ultimately shaped by external forces.

Nowadays, due to scientific discoveries and technological advances, fewer people believe in a greater power or all-seeing omniscient entity.

Today, society is much more individualistic and we are encouraged to believe entirely in ourselves, a trend that is fuelled by widespread distribution of inspirational quotes on the internet.

Instead of looking outward for validation, we are more likely to look inward.

Some people find this empowering.

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However, it can also be quite overwhelming.

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Although I think that self-belief is a positive thing in many ways, I sometimes find that relying on myself to be the sole engineer of my own success can cause me to put a lot of pressure on myself.

I sometimes feel underqualified to deal with the task of leading my own life as if whoever is responsible for bestowing the gift of life forgot to include the instruction manual when they gave one to me.

I often try to be more proactive and make plans in an attempt to map out my future in a structured way.

Making plans makes me feel momentarily powerful as if I am the sort of person who can effectively navigate life and exert control over the things that happen to me.

However, what normally happens is that I end up sitting with the plan in front of me with absolutely no idea how to implement it – which is a bit like trying to use a map with faulty navigation equipment.

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I tend to make most of my life plans in January.

Like most people, every January, I decide that I am immediately going to reconstruct myself as a new healthier, happier, more productive human being.

For a brief period of time, I genuinely believe that I possess the ability to do this.

However, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.

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It turns out that making a change in your life requires more than temporary resolve.

It involves taking your initial motivation and transforming it into habit – it is a commitment to continue performing behaviours that may initially feel unnatural and are sometimes the complete opposite of those that you have exhibited your entire life until they become integrated into your daily routine.

It is easy to make a strong statement on January 1st, experience a setback a few weeks later and immediately assume that your entire self-improvement endeavour is doomed.

So this year, I am resolving to not to put too much pressure on myself, accept that setbacks are part of the process and to remember all that I can really do is try my best to navigate life whilst attempting to be the most functional, together version of myself that I can be.

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20 thoughts on “The Problem With Inspirational Quotes.

  1. >I am resolving to not to put too much pressure on myself, accept that setbacks are part of the process and to remember all that I can really do is try my best to navigate life whilst attempting to be the most functional, together version of myself that I can be.

    I have tried to think this way for the last few years and it’s been helpful. My mom’s advice is always “lower your expectations and on average you’ll do better.” Not the most common Mom advice but she’s not the most common mom.

    Having worked with this mentality until I’m pretty comfortable I’ve lately been able to set a few more significant goals, but they tend to be centered around quality over quantity. I’ve aimed, for example, with my blog, to connect with a few people. I’ve noticed how some of the types of people I want to connect with have almost no following online but often this is because they are more focused on what they are doing than the marketing of it. I’ve really focused on doing what feels right to me, what I enjoy, and making some good friends. It’s helped me start feeling like I’m a bit more goal oriented oddly enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful post and I love the drawings. You are right on about faith dwindling and self-reliance a growing trend. I think we should allow for both. To think that our life is predetermined is no motivator. But believing in something is like a faint trail we can barely see but follow. Some forks and rights and lefts are on the trail and we must pick which ones to follow. The true balance is recognizing your strengths and limitations at the same time and see how far it can take you I suppose. Thank you for sharing

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  3. MY problem with inspirational quotes is that a lot of them are just subtle victim-blaming: “The only disability is a bad attitude” and “Nothing is impossible if you try hard enough.” (No matter what the intent of the person sharing such “inspirational” quotes, the implication is that if you are unable to do something, it’s your fault: Have legs that don’t work and need a wheelchair? It’s your fault you aren’t walking and dancing — you could do those things if you just TRIED HARDER. Don’t drive a car because you’re legally blind? Well, it’s just your bad attitude that makes this an issue — if you cheered up and stopped being Mr. Negative, your eyes would get better in no time.) What probably sounds — to SOME people — like an encouragement not to give up whenever the going gets tough… Well, it sounds completely different to someone who’s struggling with challenges that don’t go away — will NEVER go away — just because they smile and persevere.

    (I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If I want to make a change in my life, I can do that whenever I choose, and there’s nothing special about January. In fact, given how cold weather and lack of sunlight affect a lot of people, new resolutions have a better change of sticking if they’re made in, say, May or June. That gives you all summer — sunlight is known to improve mood and mental clarity — to form a habit before you have to try KEEPING it when the season itself is adding stress. …And now I wonder if New Year’s resolutions are better kept in Australia, where they have January and summer at the same time.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have a chronic illness and a couple of other medical events that popped up randomly and turned my life upside-down, and I super feel this. Life is hard. Things get tough. Bad things happen due to external forces you have no control over. Yes, a good attitude can help you cope with that. No, a good attitude won’t fix it or make it go away.

      (Also, I am Australian. I don’t do new year’s resolutions either, so I can’t tell you from personal experience if the weather helps, but it is still generally accepted over here that however good your intentions, new year’s resolutions fail after a couple of weeks. So probably not, unfortunately.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the drawings illustrating your point. 🙂 I totally get what you’re saying and agree with your assessment of setbacks and expectations for the year. I’ve found the best way to succeed in whatever you’re trying to do is take it one day at a time, and a little every day. That way, you have accomplished something. 😀

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  5. Don’t want to get too philosophical here but maybe part of the transition has to do with realizing that the higher power so to speak is partly ingrained in us. We have some of the divine in us in the form of creativity, etc as many philosophies point out.
    So how I see it is: yes, we are capable and powerful to a pretty scary level but that’s just a glimpse of the divine. And it implies an overwhelming deal of responsibility along with surrender to the universe.

    Dammit. Couldn’t help but get too philosophical again.

    Excuse me lol

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel like you do about inspirational quotes. I kind of like them, but feel burdened by their expectations. Don’t I have enough emotional baggage already without some arbitrary piece of wisdom piling on? I mean, really…

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