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Towards motivated vs Away from motivated people



Staff member
Jan 1, 2005
I stumbled across the following on the Beyond Fear message board and found it potentially interesting... here it goes:

"I posted a while ago asking how would your life be if it were free from dental phobia. A fantastic thought but unfortunately many people, when in the depths of their fears, cannot even envisage that happening. This means that the thought of a life free from dental phobia seems so far away or even impossible that it does not motivate them to take action. Well…there are two forms of motivations, towards and away from and depending upon how you are motivated the approach will vary.

Towards motivated people are motivated by what they want to achieve. So, for them a life free from dental phobia would be something they would want to move towards. The more real and tempting they can make the thought of life free from dental phobia the more likely they will be of achieving it. Towards motivation is possibly the easier form of motivation because as long as you keep what you want foremost in your mind and you maintain your focus the motivation will always be there. My first post was aimed at those people.

Away from motivated people are motivated by wanting to get away from something. Even though what they will achieve when they get out of the situation they are running from will be good it is not the motivating force that drives them. The thing with away from motivation is that while the situation, or threat, is big enough they will be motivated. However, if the severity of the threat or the situation decreases so does the motivation.

What can also happen in with this type of motivation is if, when moving forward, something appears more threatening than the initial one then all motivation will be lost. I say “appears” more threatening because this is often the case as the new “threat” is often more imminent and therefore appears worse.

As an example take someone suffering from dental phobia, they are in pain and their teeth are decaying. They will start to look at the options but ultimately the only option is getting to a dentist. However, the thought of that is more terrifying to them than the discomfort (pain and decaying teeth) they are currently experiencing, so they don’t do anything about it. Basically the fear of what will happen if they do something is far greater than the fear of what might happen if they don’t.

Unfortunately time and dental decay wait for no one so things will deteriorate. When they have deteriorated sufficiently they will again look to do something about it. They think about going to the dentist and the fear kicks in again. Once again the fear of going to a dentist is imminent whereas the effects of leaving it is not so once again the fear of the dentist will win and they do nothing.

This is a vicious circle but ultimately there will come a time when the results of neglect will leave them no option. They will have to do something about it; there is no longer a choice. They will be forced into situations they cannot handle. They will not be able to prepare themselves, they will not be able to find the right dentist and the whole situation gets more and more difficult. The only thing for sure is that the time will come when they will have to do something about it whether they want to or not.

So I guess the question to ask the away from motivated person would be “what will your life be like if you don’t do something about it” or “how bad are you going to let things get before you are forced to do something about it”

Ultimately you will have to do something about it so as the saying goes, the sooner the better. One day you will have do something about your dental health. Do you want to do it when you have some control and choice or when you have none?

It’s never too late to do something about it but the longer it is left the harder it gets. You need to look beyond the imminent fear and see what will happen if you continue to leave things. Not a nice thought but if it gets you motivated them it’s worth it because you can make a difference and you can stop it happening. You can regain control of your life and get out of the desperate situation you are in if dental phobia is controlling your life."

So I was wondering, what's everyone's motivational style? This post had me intrigued for several reasons:

Firstly, motivation is of course a huge factor when it comes to tackling dental phobia. It would make intuitive sense that someone whose biggest wish it is to be rid of their fear would be more successful in dealing with or overcoming their fear.

Secondly, I was looking at myself and noticed that I was definitely "away from" motivated before that first appointment, and "towards" motivated from then on in. Do motivations change depending on the circumstances, or are they stable personality characteristics?

Discuss :D! (or just add your two cents worth)


Well-known member
Jun 7, 2006
Re: Towards motivated vs Away from motivated peopl

I would give anything to have a dentist i could go to with confidence so i keep trying, but it is so hard I keep failing


Well-known member
Jun 29, 2006
Re: Towards motivated vs Away from motivated peopl

I think i am a towards motivation, now I have found my current dentist, but if you'd asked me 12 to 18 months ago, possibly longer I was definately an away from.


Jan 25, 2006
Re: Towards motivated vs Away from motivated peopl

hm... Motivation? I think the best motivation for me is to get rid of the fear. The fear is the worst. It's like the fear is tearing your heart and stomach apart... And the only way the get rid of it is to go to the dentist.

Because then, you come home and you can say...OH, I've done, it's behind me!! and relax.. this is the best feeling ever. (but it lasts only for six months to the next appointment)

Do you feel the same?