Lesson #62 – What turns Your Crank?


Took part today in a discussion on motivation and the role it can play (or not play) in depression. We concluded that motivation is the driver behind how we arrived at our unique states of depression. I thought about it for some time and I’ve concluded that there are two sides to this motivation coin: fear and desire. Then what motivates fear? And what motivates desire? Is it fear or desire that motivates you?


   We can all agree that fear is a negative factor in our state of mind.
Fear comes in two flavours that are ingrained in our primal instincts, built into our genome: fear of not eating and fear of being eaten. Overpowering fear of this nature can certainly be cause for depression. Either prospect is undesirable.


Fear – Eat or be Eaten.
      If you don’t eat, you starve and eventually you die, an unpleasant consequence and one to be voided. In the same vein, if you fear loneliness, or small spaces, or fear failure, or rejection, then you fear the absence of people, or room to breathe, being unsuccessful, or being shunned or you fear humiliation. You are being deprived of something that you need (the same as food) and thus, a situation to be avoided. You fear not eating. That can be a great motivator.
Fear of being eaten is just that, the sabre-toothed
cat at the mouth of your cave. That cat can be your boss, the IRS (the CRA here), the scorn of your peers, or the grinding machinations of the old day-to-day. The cat can be debt, boredom or the isolation of pandemic lockdown. It can be the judge, the cop or your nagging partner. It’s a lot quicker (generally) than starving but the end result is the same.

Desire or be Denied Your Desire

   Desire is what can get you out of bed each day ready to take on the world. It is the anticipation of that first cup of a.m. coffee or the resolve to tackle that mountain of “something” you’ve been putting off for months. It can also cause you to pull the covers over your head and throw a slipper at the alarm clock – motivation in reverse.
That’s being denied your desire. But it’s still a call to action, a motivation to do something.


Desire is a driving wish for something pleasurable, a goal. This also has two aspects; a desire to achieve that goal and a desire to avoid not achieving it (denied). The first is the desire/eating/jumping-out-of-bed side of that coin. As a motivator, it can be a sight more pleasant than fear. Wishing to avoid obstacles to desire (a desire denied) can also be a great motivator to action. Don’t forget that wedding anniversary if you want a happy spouse.

Motivated by fear or motivated by desire?
Motivation can lead you into depression or it can lead you out.

Look for the signposts. 

Watch for the warnings.

Lesson #62 – What turns Your Crank?

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