Most of us have at some point told ourselves to stop being lazy or accused others of being lazy. Rarely do we stop to try to understand the person, their situation or what laziness actually means.
So how do we choose to define Laziness?
Oxford Online Dictionary defines laziness as :
Disinclined to activity or exertion
Let’s consider what this really means, the suggestion is that this is a conscious choice. If that is the case, then it’s this choice we are being judged on, not just the lack of action.
What if this choice is not as simple as it might seem?
What if despite our best physical or mental efforts, we struggle to motivate ourselves to do the things we feel we need to. Might we feel physically or mentally incapable of being active or productive?
If there are reasons beyond our awareness that leave us unable to move forwards, can this really be laziness? Are we (or others) just making a damning moral judgement of ourselves because we feel we ‘should’ be doing something productive?
What are we telling ourselves with this message?
When we boil it down to its most basic, the message of laziness is ‘not good enough’. Whether it’s not having cleaned up the kitchen, achieved targets at work, gone for a jog or struggling to get out of bed. We are measuring ourselves against something we feel we should be.
By labelling ourselves as lazy we are suggesting there is something wrong with who we are. Rather than expressing frustration at the reasons for our inactivity we turn it inwards on our sense of self. If we do this consistently over time we can come to believe it as a character flaw and wear down our own sense of self-worth. Leading us into a self destructive cycle and less motivated than ever.
If it’s not laziness, what is it?
If we struggle to value ourselves we might then learn to believe that we are lazy by nature and beat ourselves up for not achieving the things we wish. There are many reasons you may feel as though you are lazy or others may judge you so, but could it be that you aren’t lazy you’re actually:
If you have learnt to measure your self-worth by how productive you are, you may find yourself stuck on the hamster wheel, working harder and harder, juggling many balls in order to keep up and chase the ever elusive feeling of ‘good enough’.
Stress is the number one cause of all illnesses and we would do well to listen when our bodies tell us we need to slow down. If you find yourself feeling judgemental of others for not working hard enough, the chances are you treat yourself the same way. Is your health worth sacrificing in order to be more productive?
With a to do list is as long as your arm, the domestic chores, work tasks and dreams of a better life swim round your head relentlessly. Struggling to admit you can’t do it alone, your head spins with a sea of information. You hit the reset button, pushing it all to the back of your mind, distracting yourself with your phone, the TV or numbing yourself with alcohol.
Today’s brief relief is overshadowed by the daunting prospect of tomorrow’s reality. Can you be brave enough to admit to yourself you can’t do it all alone or as quick as you’d like? Perhaps breaking it down into manageable chunks might allow you to move forwards.
Familiarity is great, it’s comfortable, it’s immediately satisfying and we know what to expect. But it isn’t always what we need. Change is uncomfortable, we don’t like to admit it but let’s be honest; at times it’s really unsettling.
If you’re used to the same people, the same work place or the same routine, change can seem extremely daunting. Change can bring up fears of what has happened before, what may happen again or simply what may go wrong.
Beating yourself up won’t help you here. Consider what it might feel like to let go of having to stick with what you have and accept that you’re anxious. Perhaps it’s ok to feel anxious? We all experience anxiety, but we don’t all talk about it or admit it.
Sometimes life is simply very mundane. If life feels repetitive and dull and you feel you’re lacking any spark, perhaps you’ve lost your purpose. Maybe you’re pursuing a goal that you’ve invested a lot in but on some level it doesn’t feel right anymore.
Perhaps its feels like you have no choice, you signed up to it and people expect of you. Stop and consider for a moment if you do have a choice. Even if the choice involves a compromise or losing something in the short-term to gain back your spark?
Sometimes we convince ourselves we have no choice because it’s the safer option or we’ve invested so much. Are you concealing a choice from yourself because it’s difficult or goes against your beliefs? Do the consequences really outweigh the potential benefits?
If you’re struggling with low moods, feeling numb, unable to concentrate and cannot motivate yourself despite all of your best efforts you may be experiencing depression.
If you are struggling with suspected depression you should always seek support. You could try your GP, family, a mental health charity, a friend, a therapist or preferably a combination of the above. Depression should not be tackled alone despite the often strong desire to hide away.
Depression is a physical and mental lack of any vitality. You cannot be lazy if your mind and body are not allowing you to be active. Give yourself permission to accept the support of others; it may very well be the best gift you could ever give yourself.
The need for purpose
We all have a deep-seated urge to find meaning and purpose throughout our lives, to learn and grow. But we can easily lose touch with this if other factors in our lives take hold, curtailing our freedom or sense of who we are.
If we don’t feel in control of our own lives, it is hard to maintain motivation to move forwards, meeting our basic needs and defining our lives. But we can choose to accept that we are not lazy however difficult our situation is.
Our lack of motivation is often a transition; a phase which doesn’t define us, but may need to be patiently understood on our own terms before we are able to reapply ourselves once our purpose and vitality are rediscovered.
So if you find you are cursing yourself for being lazy or not getting things done, think again…are you lazy, or is there something else going on?
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