I talk to a lot of people.
We talk about all different kinds of problems – a seriously diverse set of problems: work, relationships, next steps in life, grief, body image, overwhelm, loneliness just to name a few.
Despite this variety, in our topics, I hear one sentence an awful lot: “I’m just lazy.”
It always gets thrown in with a list of other reasons for WHY something isn’t happening or being done, like this is a statement without consequence: “I’m so lazy.”
I have a couple of problems with this “lazy” verdict: the first problem that I have with it is that I don’t believe in laziness as an explanation. I don’t believe that laziness is a root problem, a fundamental characteristic of humans, a fatal flaw. How about that? I bet everyone is thinking of someone right now, someone who makes you think: “No, for real, laziness is a thing. I’ve seen it.” Is there a hammock in that mental picture of yours, maybe a TV, lots of lounging going on?
Here’s the thing. When I say laziness isn’t the cause, what I mean is that what we see as laziness is just a result of an internal thought process for a person. For some folks out there, the ones we’re judging from out here on the outside, what we see as laziness may just some straight up acceptance and contentment, maybe even some good planning. There are people in the world who feel good enough about themselves to relax and not have it be about avoiding anything. They allow themselves that pleasure. They allow themselves to experience down time. They allow themselves time off from everything and feel darned good while they do that.
For some of us this laziness label is what we call not being motivated enough to do the thing: the thing we SHOULD do, the thing that we’ve decided will make everything better, the THING – you know that thing, right? What is it for you? Working out? Eating better? Finally finishing that book you’ve been working on? Putting together a resume? What is the THING?
I want to tell you all, the ones stamping yourselves with that laziness label, you are not lazy. The “problem” lies underneath that; there’s something that’s sucking up all of your motivation, all of your energy, all of your will to do the THING. And that something is a thought. How do I know that? Because this is how the brain works. We have a thought, we have a feeling, we act (or don’t act). So if “laziness” is code for not acting, it’s because of a thought you are having. not because you are just this way.
And I’d like to add here that thinking you are just this way – that is some damaging ish right there. “I’m just lazy.” If you ever say this about yourself I want you to take a minute and think that on purpose right now. Just think it, say it out loud if that makes it easier and notice how you feel. I can’t speak for you, but when I call myself lazy, which I did just for a second there so I could share this with you, I don’t feel so good. I feel heavier. I feel slow, but not in a relaxed way, like I’m stuck in molasses. I feel a little sad. I feel like I’ve already failed. I’ve got news for you, none of those feelings are going to help me get anywhere today. Not a one. The thought that you are lazy might be enough, in and of itself, to stop you in your tracks. But you likely judged yourself as lazy when you were already stopped, so we have to go down a layer here.
So what are you thinking, besides that you are lazy, that is stealing your energy? What’s running around in your head that’s making it hard for you to do the THING? Is it that it won’t work anyway, so why bother? Is it that good things don’t happen to you? Is it that there’s something wrong with you? Is it that succeeding at the THING will cause a problem for you or for people you care about? What is that thought? What do you have cooking in your amazing brain that’s keeping you stuck? Wouldn’t it be great to actually have the energy to do the THING?
If you’re not sure about all of this, I challenge you, I challenge you the next time you stop yourself from doing whatever it is you are trying to do, to stop and take a deep breath and listen to what’s going on in your head. What are you telling yourself? I challenge you to do this for a couple of days, to see what tapes you’ve got playing in there because those tapes? They are what’s got you stuck; they are what’s getting in the way. They are stopping you from doing the THING.
If you get that far, maybe you’ve jotted a few of those sentences down, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you find the energy to do your thing.
If you think you have an idea what you’re telling yourself – if you know what the culprit is, and aren’t sure what to do next, why not try rewriting that story? Just click on the graphic below to dig a little deeper.