• Lynn Cukaj

Motivation for Self-Renewal & Creativity

By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com

Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults


Motivation, discipline, self-renewal, and creativity: Exploring the interconnectedness of each category with the goal of creating positive change in our lives.


Motivation is defined as the reason we act or behave in a particular way. It is our general desire or willingness to accomplish a goal and keep us focused on our life journey. Motivation is influenced by two types: intrinsic and extrinsic


Intrinsic motivation is when we participate in an activity for the joy of it. We are intrinsically motivated to complete a goal for its own sake and for personal gains.


Extrinsic motivation is when we are driven to perform an activity in order to earn a reward or to avoid something unpleasant, like punishment.


Is one type of motivation more effective than the other when it comes to motivating a child? In my experience working with children, I have observed that if too many rewards are offered to engage extrinsic motivation, it reduces a child's intrinsic motivation to achieve personal goals. Parents often make this mistake and need to be cautious about how they use rewards. While the use of rewards can increase motivation when an activity is undesirable for a child, they should be avoided when a child is intrinsically motivated to engage in the activity. If a child is intrinsically motivated to acquire new skills or knowledge, then a reward may make the activity feel less like play and more like work and may therefore demotivate the child from engaging in that activity on their own. While we can understand intrinsic and extrinsic motivation when referring to children, can we identify which type has been more effective in achieving our own goals?


What are some ways that we can develop intrinsic motivation and is it related to an innate desire to better oneself? Humans have four dimensions of need: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual. Developing ourselves in one or all four of these areas requires the motivation to undergo the process of self-renewal.


Self-renewal creates personal growth and change through introspection and identification of the areas in our lives that need replenishment and revival. It gives us the strength to better handle challenging situations in our lives. The process of self-renewal relies on introspection and asking ourselves questions to seek honest answers. Some questions we can ask are the following:


  • During this past year how has the pandemic impacted my motivation?

  • What actions have I taken to promote self-renewal?

  • What has been the hardest and most difficult adjustment during the pandemic?

  • In what ways have I coped with challenges over the past year and what has helped?

  • To whom or where did I turn to for support?

  • How has my creativity been impacted?

  • Have I tapped into my creativity for self-care?


We have learned how mindfulness and living in the here & now impacts creativity. Introspection is achieved through the practice of mindfulness which is the foundation of the self-renewal process and discovering the sources of our motivation.


If we understand our preferred self-renewal style, it can help to identify our own sources of intrinsic motivation. First, ask yourself the following: Are you visual, kinesthetic, aural, or tactile, or a little bit of each?


Tactile: hugging, massaging, touching fabric or paper

Kinetic: dancing, running, expressing feelings with one’s hands

Visual: looking at art and nature, reading

Aural: listening to music, sound healing, and conversing


How do you nurture yourself based on your type? Understanding your preferred style helps to explore creativity and learn about the source of motivation through mindfulness. To live a creative life, a person needs to let go of the fear of being wrong. There is no right or wrong way to create art or be creative. Art Therapy helps with this process.


Do you find yourself resisting the process of self-renewal or mindfulness? Resistance is any action in opposition to something. If you are experiencing resistance, it may be an indication that you are not addressing your true feelings and desires. Feelings and fears can get stuck in our heads to protect ourselves from pain and suffering. Recognize if you are ignoring your true feelings through resistance to self-renewal and then tune into yourself through mindfulness and creative expression.

Resistance to creating is resistance to nurturing ourselves. If we are not motivated to explore self-renewal, we are limiting ourselves which can hinder our growth. This in turn reduces our capacity to create and reduces our ability to handle challenging situations.

What does discipline mean to you? There are two definitions and both of them are relevant for the purpose of self-renewal.


Discipline is defined as a practice to train ourselves to obey rules or a code of behavior. If you were to create a code of behavior or set of rules for yourself, what would they be? And how would you stay motivated to abide by those rules? (Or does the thought of it create more anxiety and stress?) Setting weekly goals or a daily routine have proven to help a person stay intrinsically motivated by the feeling of satisfaction in achieving those goals.


Discipline is also defined as a branch of study or knowledge. Do you pursue new knowledge and ideas with an open mind and non-judgmental manner? Do you look for opportunities to expand beyond your comfort zone? Exploring creative ways to express yourself can be helpful in building and shaping motivation and self-renewal. If an individual is learning new things, they are becoming less rigid and less close-minded in their thoughts and behaviors.


“The mind that opens up to a new idea never returns to its original size.” – Albert Einstein

Throughout the years, I have observed that the key to building resilience and preparing for life challenges is to stay motivated in exploring self-renewal through creativity or mindfulness and be disciplined to stay on that path. Veering off can lead to reversal or self-destruction. Life is ever-changing and we need to be on a journey of motivation and self-renewal in order to better understand everything around us. Implementing a routine to follow and setting daily or weekly goals may result in a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. The feeling of accomplishment increases self-esteem which in turn helps us feel more self-efficient in our abilities to stay on task. We then feel intrinsically motivated to accomplish more goals, whether they are related to health, social, education, spiritual, or creativity. If a person feels a sense of self-efficacy, they in turn have a more positive outlook on their life, relationships, future, and the world. By understanding the interconnectedness of motivation, discipline, self-renewal and creativity, one can live a more authentic life.



For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.


Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com