Ass-Kicking Frames

Here’s a really simple idea that can be useful for self-motivation.

Sometimes our frames are too flabby, giving us lots of leeway to drop the ball and slack off. In such cases it may be useful to adopt harsher frames, at least temporarily, to demand more from ourselves.

Here are some of these ass-kicking frames to consider:

  • Worrying = dumb
  • Quitting = dishonorable
  • Sleeping past 5am = loser
  • Not asking for the date = spineless
  • Clinging to a partial match = creepy
  • Tolerating Trump supporters = suffering fools

I think such frames are best when linked closely to actions and behaviors, not to more complex results like income. They can be helpful when facing quick do or don’t decisions, like: Get up now, or sleep in late.

Imagine your alarm going off in the morning, and you’re tempted to sleep in. Then an inner voice kicks in and exclaims: Sleeping in is for losers! Get your ass up now!

Or suppose you catch yourself worrying about something you can’t control, and you remind yourself: Worrying is a stupid waste of energy!

While I’m not suggesting that you beat yourself up here, I do think there’s room for using such frames judiciously without risking damage to your self esteem.

Challenging yourself in this way can actually be fun and motivating. I know it’s not for everyone, but for some people it helps. It’s a tool – use it if you like it. Try it if you think it has promise.

You can even connect this practice with memorable movie lines if you like, such as these:

  • On your feet, soldier! – The Terminator
  • Get your ass to Mars! – Total Recall
  • I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum. – They Live
  • Pain don’t hurt. – Roadhouse
  • I feel the need, the need for speed. – Top Gun
  • I know kung fu. – The Matrix
  • You can’t handle the truth! – A Few Good Men
  • Freedom! – Braveheart
  • I pity the fool. – Rocky III
  • Wake up, time to die. – Blade Runner
  • Game over, man! – Aliens
  • I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane! – I hope you can guess this one. 😉

Even if the words of a line don’t quite fit your situation, that isn’t important. The emotion of the frame is what matters. “Get your ass to Mars!” may not fit your context, but if you remember the movie, you may remember the urgency of the line, right before bullets start flying. The emotion of this frame may be more effective than a more rational frame but emotionally flabby frame that makes it easy to slack off or quit on yourself.

There are so many good framing lines just in the movie The Princess Bride:

  • Inconceivable!
  • Death first!
  • I can cope with torture.
  • As you wish.
  • We are men of action. Lies do not become us.
  • Humiliations galore!
  • Have fun storming the castle!
  • It would take a miracle.
  • Life is pain.
  • Get used to disappointment.
  • To the pain!
  • Morons.

If you remember how the characters said these lines, you can summon some fun and engaging emotions that help you get into action. I especially love the “I can cope with torture” framing for facing unpleasant tasks. And I recently use the “Death first” line as a response when someone asked what it would take for me to eat something non-vegan. I wish I could use the “I am not left-handed” line from that movie too, but I actually am left-handed.

Are you kicking your own ass enough? If not, then stop using emotionally flabby frames, and get your ass to Mars!

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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