Fear-based Motivation

A comment on my last post got me thinking – how do I motivate to keep up on rehab, especially once I’m mostly better and I need to do the easy-to-ignore maintenance work?

Part of it is fear. I know, we’re supposed to be all good here, brah, all love and happiness, and fear is a negative emotion. So then, would that make us synonymous with the douchebags who strut around in “No Fear” T-shirts? Except Urijah Faber, who’s super badass (though he’s got a helluva tough fight tonight in Jose Aldo), and if No Fear wanted to pay me to wear their stupid shirts, I would, too, and I’d laugh all the way to the bank. But wait! Maybe Faber realized the above, as it appears he’s no longer got No Fear. Jose Aldo will do that to a guy. Besides, I’m sure “Amp” is way cooler. OK, then.

Walking with my back brace, 2005. (c) Dan Gambino, http://www.dangpix.com

So, about fear. Does fear motivate me, or do I solely motivate with positive emotions? Heh. Of course I want to live my life with love. All bullshit aside, that is one of my ultimate goals. And hell yeah, fear motivates me. I’m terrified of losing the ability to do what I love.

When it comes to maintenance phase work – like with my back, for me – if I’m not keeping up, then my body sends me signals, like pain. This happens with any body-part tweaks, no? It’s like an alarm clock sounds and reminds me it’s time to keep up. With my back it’s constant, to the point where I know how I’m going to feel if I don’t keep up, and I don’t like that feeling. It’s harder to play catch-up, too, similar to falling behind on the pain curve – and, yes, I’ve learned the hard way. But proving that I’m smarter than I look, I’ve learned that keeping up puts me into a positive feedback loop, and so with my back I (mostly) stay ahead of the game.

My full spinal routine takes me 45 minutes to an hour, and I’ll usually do that a few times a week. It sucks time, sure, but it’s worth it to me. I can do much shorter versions, though, and still benefit, especially when I do them daily. When super busy or super lazy, I sometimes break the various routines into very small chunks and try to do a few of them each day – two or three minutes of back exercises are better than none, and a handful of very short sessions seem so much more digestible when I’m busy.

Can’t even do that? Well, here’s an insider secret – sometimes a little self-loathing and taunting goes a long way. Go ahead, wound your inner child. If you can’t toughen-the-fuck up and do the very basic things that keep you mobile – and for me that means keeping myself happy – then reaffirming your laziness with a chocolate milkshake and a hug sure as hell isn’t going to do the trick, either. I’m currently booking slots for my motivational speaking tour, by the way – big banks, youth groups, old folks’ homes – call my agent.

If you’re having trouble motivating, try this. Seriously. Adapt as needed:

“Kelly, you piece of shit, you really mean you can’t do three minutes of back exercises right now? Really? So, you’d rather deal with the downward spiral and be hurting and unable to do what you love to do? Now get your ass down on the floor and do your exercises.”

Works every time, brah.


The video below kind of sucks, but it’s one of the best SNL skits ever. “Go For It,” Motivational Speaker Matt Foley. For a better version of this classic, click here ( I couldn’t figure out how to embed it).

2 thoughts on “Fear-based Motivation

  1. I never thought about this before: fear to keep you motivated.
    Hmmm… Maintenance exercise is, i think, one of the most important after a recovery. Once you go through an accident you can really see how fragile we are and how hard is to get that sense of “i can do this” once again after that.
    Yes, fear… Interesting.
    Thanks KC

  2. My name is Kelly Cordes, as you probably already know, and I live in a shack out by the dump… and I’m here to ‘Pump You Up!’ Oh wait, I’m slurring my snl. BTW, I am running an unused pain prescription disposal service. Let me know if you need my services!

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