Unmindful Motivational Quotes

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Hey there, so it’s been a while! I’ve been neglecting my blog quite a bit due to a depressive episode, but I worked through it and got out of it a couple weeks ago! In relation to that, today I want to discuss (useless/insensitive/inconsiderate/thoughtless/unmindful/bullshit [as one friend put it]) motivational quotes. Or rather “motivational” quotes – quotation marks added to show how I truly feel. If you feel similarly about motivational quotes like these, you can pick your own adjective to describe them.

While I started writing this prior, I feel this is kind of fitting given where I was at and how little the quote would have helped me. In regards to the quote at the centerpiece of this post, the first thought I had when I came across it was “how is this helpful to people who are struggling?”

unmindful motivational quote
Thanks, S. McNutt.

My Example of One of These Motivational Quotes

“You make your life hard by always being in your head. Life is simple, get out of your head and into the moment.”

S. McNutt

So let me start by saying I know the intention was good here. S. McNutt was probably trying to encourage people to enjoy the moment and their lives more… but as someone who is neurodivergent, it unfortunately doesn’t read well to me. =(

Trust me, I know how important mindset is to one’s quality of life, but this left a bad taste in my mouth. If I weren’t at the point I’m at with my understanding of myself, it honestly probably would have stung a bit. I find this quote to be an example of “toxic positivity.” verywellmind describes toxic positivity as “…the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It’s a ‘good vibes only’ approach to life. And while there are benefits to being an optimist and engaging in positive thinking, toxic positivity instead rejects difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive, façade.

Back to the quote – Let’s Dissect It

There are three main problems I have with this quote-unquote motivational quote:

  1. The whole first sentence. Do I think people need to get out of their heads more? Definitely yes. The problem with this though is that it starts at the very beginning saying the reader is the cause of their problems. It does not acknowledge that many people live with conditions that are out of their control. Certain things would actually be more of the cause than just them being stuck. For people with mental and mood disorders or who are just dealing with the ebb and flow of life, they do not actively choose to always be in their head; they’re not trying to make their lives harder. Many would and do actually do anything to spend time outside their heads. I used to engage in many various unhealthy practices just to try to get out of my head, if only for a few moments. In fact, in lieu of being full-blown suicidal, one of the longest running fantasies I had was for a “coma vacation” as I would call it. If I can’t die, I couldn’t think of anything more peacefully blissful sounding at times. I just didn’t know how to get out of my head.
  2. The tone throughout. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with point #1, but I want to expand a bit. There’s a certain tone that to me reads like it’s blaming the reader. Blame and shame are somethings people who are going through stuff feel a lot. Having the concept that you are the cause, while not acknowledging other factors, can impact self-esteem. For me, it used to make me feel weak. I would feel pathetically incapable and even downright worthless at times. Like, why can’t I just live like how normal people live? It took me a while to come to terms with and accept that I have some additional hurdles in my way, but I still tried and continue to try to give my best. In my opinion, a softer, more positive and encouraging tone would be better. It would have helped me read this as more of an empowering quote; instead I read it to be negative. “You make it hard! Just get over it all!” I think as humans we should be trying to build each other up, rather than beat each other up.
  3. Simple.” Who’s to say that there’s a simple fix for everyone? That’s a sweeping blanket statement. Usually you never truly know all of what someone is going through. By using the word “simple,” it is a bit dismissive of unseen issues; it downplays our struggles (whatever they may be) – even for people who are neurotypical but still going through difficulties. I’d argue life isn’t simple for anyone, but rather there are life benefits to practicing simple principles.

My Remix Attempt at This Motivational Quote

Now that I’ve gotten my gripes out of the way, let’s try to talk about this in a more positive manner. Yes, always being in one’s head can diminish one’s quality of life. Yes, living in the moment can dramatically improve things. No, it is not always a simple fix. No, it is not always solely one’s fault. It can be hard to break out of a negative mindset at times. Whether due to situations and events in life, certain diagnoses, traumas, grief, etc., there’s a lot of factors that can be at play.

So I want to propose my adaptation of this quote: “Try to get out of your head and bask in the simple moments of life, even if only for a moment.” (I tried.)

My Remixed Motivational Quote
(Update: While discussing this post with my therapist, he suggested I create a graphic for my roughly paraphrased version. I feel weird quoting myself, but whatever!)

Getting Out of Your Head

Now let’s discuss productive ways to get out of your head. There are many benefits to positive thinking after all. In a great post I highly recommend checking out, Mayo Clinic goes over some ways to try to combat intrusive negative thoughts. The article also lists the following as some potential benefits of positive thinking:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Improved psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Healthier coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Some ways I combat my negative thought patterns are the following:

  1. Be aware of my cognitive distortions. Through awareness and challenging myself on those sabotaging distortions, I am better able to process and work through them.
  2. Work on building up my self-esteem. I wrote about six things that help me with this here. Developing a healthy sense of self-esteem lifts a huge weight from my shoulders. (I also briefly mention cognitive distortions in that post too).
  3. Take care of my mental health. I know this doesn’t explicitly deal with my mindset, but it’s very important to me to stay on top of this. Tending to my mental health includes seeing my psychiatrist and therapist (who does help me with my thought patterns) and taking my medications, among other things.
  4. Practice my radical gratitude. Probably one of the most crucial things I do to try to reframe myself to a positive state of mind. I have also written about this topic here.

So what do you think?

  • Do motivational quotes like this bother you too? (…Or is it just me?)
  • If so, are there any specific quotes in particular that rub you the wrong way?
  • How would you rephrase the quote in question here?
  • What are your tips for building and maintaining a positive mindset?
  • Anything else you’d like to share in relation to this post?

Whatever you want to say, I’d love to hear it!