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Gwyneth Paltrow Using Fear to Motivate, Not Motivated By Fear

There are many types of motivation for making any change. Some people decide to make a change for their children, to be able to keep up with them and play with them more. Some people decide to make a change to feel better about themselves – like Brittany Aberle wanting to be “steamy hot.” Some people decide to make a change to have more energy or to be happier or to be able to think more clearly. Some people are motivated by money. Some people, like Gwyneth Paltrow, decide to make a change as a result of a negative experience. Wednesday, Fitperez shared a quote from Gwyneth Paltrow that explains how her focus on healthy living came as a result of watching her father’s death from cancer.

“I would do anything to have him back, but half the reason that my life is good, has real, true value, is that he died. All I’ve learned about nutrition and health came from his cancer,” she says. “I’ll probably have a long and healthy life because he didn’t. I wish he hadn’t smoked, because the fact is that he did and he died. As much grief and pain and trauma and heartache are caused, there was an equal amount of positivity that came out of his death.”

Gwyneth does a great job of reframing her father’s death, which is a therapist term for finding the silver lining. When something negative occurs in our lives, we have the option to dwell in the negativity or to use the experience to drive us to better understanding and a better life. It is possible that fear could be part of Gwyneth’s motivation, but I am not sure we can read that into what she has said. While I would like to believe that changes in my dietary habits have come as a result of what I have learned from Diets in Review, there could also be some fear for me in knowing just how dangerous certain things could be.

It has always been easier for me to black list certain things for myself than to add in positive things (although I am doing well at daily cleaning). Fear is powerful and can help you stick to your goals when you are tempted to waiver. Admittedly, “possible carcinogen” is a very powerful motivator for me, but ultimately my goal is living a healthier life and keeping my family members as healthy as possible. For many people the fear of negative consequences is more powerful than the rewards of positive changes, but fear can help us make positive changes as well. It sounds like Gwyneth is making positive changes, not just avoiding certain things. While she may fear cancer, she seems to be using the experience of her father’s death to encourage her to do more to live as healthy a life as possible, rather than simply avoiding cigarettes to avoid cancer.

Fear is not helpful as a motivator though if it drives you to anxiety or interferes with normal functioning. If you can no longer socialize around food, you may have taken it too far. If you exercise to the point of exhaustion, you may be doing your body more harm than good. If you experience fear at accidentally ingested something that is not on your food plan, the fear has become more powerful than the motivation. Do you know what motivates you? Do you use fear as a tool to help you reach your goals or does fear drive you and determine your goals?

February 10th, 2012

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