When motivation hurts

when motivation hurts {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com

I’m taking my normal “gear myself up for the week” post a different direction today. Let’s talk about some of the harmful motivation on Pinterest and Tumblr and then how we can better evaluate the images we share.

As a note, I found all of these images by searching “motivation” on Pinterest. I have purposefully not linked them back. I also searched for motivation tips either showing or directed at men because I fully understand these concerns are not limited to women as portrayed in the images below. The search resulted primarily in scantily clad woman (surprise) and the few images of men that included quotes or tips were actually pretty good. We could take a lesson on the types of messages that should go on pictures of woman too.

1. Pain and guilt

The problem here is obvious. Pain tells you “hey, something’s wrong here, I might get injured.” Not listening to pain is how I’ve damaged my knees and pulled muscles. Learn the difference between pushing through a tough workout and ignoring serious signals from your body.

And know that breaks are good! We don’t need to feel guilty about a rest day or rest week, or time off to heal from injury or to recover from illness.

2. The wrong reasons

I could get on a very large soap box here and write about how I cringe each time I see the thousands of images like these, but I’ll keep it brief. To make someone like you more is pretty shitty motivation. To play upon someone else’s insecurity and/or make them jealous is even worse.

These also fuel the idea that we have to attain a certain type or level of fitness to be “hot,” attractive or worthy of jealousy. Absolutely nothing about this message is positive or motivational.

3. Hatred

These images encourage body hatred, plain and simple. Just look at that list! Collarbone, hip bone, thigh gap. The final “do it for yourself” point looks thrown in to make the image not that horrible. Or the top right: cry over a body you hate. And the bottom left image is a plain lie. Many of us can never be that in months because our bodies aren’t built that way.

I don’t want to judge body hatred itself. It’s a real emotion many of us – myself included – face every day! “Motivational” images that play on those insecurities do not help us work through body hatred in the least.

Positivity goal

As much as Pinterest and Tumblr are full of unhealthy “motivational” posters, there are plenty of great ones as well. I just encourage you to take a little time to evaluate before sharing:

• Does the image make me like myself?
• Does the tip sound like something my doctor would recommend?
• Would I give this advice to someone else / my child / a friend?

My plan going forward is if I can answer “no” to any of these questions I won’t share the image. Please join me in a commitment to sharing positive messages and encouraging healthy views of our bodies. 🙂

Have you ever felt discouraged by a “motivational” image or tip?


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11 Responses to When motivation hurts

  1. Rachel says:

    I really enjoyed this post. THANK YOU for bringing this subject to light. It’s a very important topic in our ultra-obsessed-with-body-image society. Run/workout for health benefits and to feel great. No other reason necessary! – Rachel @ runningonhappy.com

    • LarissaDaltonS says:

      Ultra-obsessed in a truly negative way, that’s for sure. Let’s be ultra-obsessed with celebrating what our bodies can do, with finding beauty in all types and speaking love to ourselves and others. 🙂

  2. Hannahviolin says:

    I hate those “motivational” posters. I think they don’t inspire anyone for the right reasons and I especially hate when friends post them in my facebook feed–I usually block that kind of post if I see it, as it doesn’t motivate me in a positive way. I don’t work out for my COLLARBONE, for goodness sakes!
    Hannahviolin recently posted…Day 8 of Whole 30My Profile

    • LarissaDaltonS says:

      Haha, I thought the collarbone thing was strange. You’re right that things should motivate us positively. I, for one, have never done well with negative reinforcement. I think the negativity of some images hits on a subconscious level; that we don’t honestly realize the messages we are encouraging. Fortunately there are great people and organizations working to change the message!

  3. Thank you for this…I get so depressed when looking at some pictures on Pinterest…seriously, I try to get motivated, then realize that those bodies will never be mine. I eat when I am hungry, I workout when I am in the mood and I take a break when I feel like it 🙂
    Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry recently posted…She Is 12 and I am AnnoyingMy Profile

    • LarissaDaltonS says:

      Me too! It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I totally get grumpy because of pictures sometimes. I always have to remind myself that 1) I will never look like some “preferred” body types, or 2) I’m simply not willing to adopt the extra strict lifestyle that it would take for me to achieve what I see.

      Sorry, but I like pizza and chocolate too much. Ha!

  4. Kelly says:

    This was terrific!! Thank you for calling attention to how some of the “motivational posts” could do less good than they intend.
    Kelly recently posted…Always Something to Remind MeMy Profile

    • LarissaDaltonS says:

      Hm, your comment made me think that yes, these kind of posts are INTENDED to be good. At least I hope so. That’s not a “get out of jail free” card, but it does change my perspective a little in my judgment of them. Thanks!

  5. Rory Lazear says:

    As a fitness professional with two daughters this nonsense makes me nuts!!!! I try my hardest to teach not only my girls but my clients and members to love every bit of themselves even the crap they hate…. and then they look at this CRAP!!! We all need a little more self love… keep rocking on sister!!
    Rory Lazear recently posted…Spring into action !My Profile

  6. […] When Motivation Hurts from Piloting Paper Airplanes. […]

  7. […] inspiration. You all know my pet peeves about guilt-laden body-shaming #fitspo. {If not, read When motivation hurts and What is your “pinspiration” really saying?} When looking through fitness […]

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