According to a study from Deloitte, 70 percent of respondents binge watch streaming content. This means watching an average of five television shows (50-minutes long) in one sitting.
Do we have a laziness epidemic on our hands? It’s possible.
Laziness is something everyone struggles with to varying degrees. There are many different sources of our laziness. Most of the time, we aren’t aware of these causes. Instead, we just feel lazy.
As with procrastination, laziness is a symptom, not a cause.
Laziness is pervasive because it has many voices and expressions that influence our behavior.
Here are the eight voices of laziness:
- Confusion: “I don’t know what to do.”
- Neurotic Fear: “I just can’t.”
- Fixed Mindset: “I’m afraid I’ll fail or look stupid.”
- Lethargy: “I’m too tired. I don’t have the energy.”
- Apathy: “I just don’t care about anything.”
- Regret: “I’m too old to get started. It’s too late.”
- Identity: “I’m just a lazy person.”
- Shame: “I shouldn’t be so lazy.”
Do any of these voices sound familiar to you?
Let’s look at each thought pattern and find ways of addressing them.
Confusion: “I don’t know what to do.”
This voice might tell the truth. At this moment, the part of you expressing this voice doesn’t know what to do.
When you hear this voice, start by finding your center. Then, if you’re still confused, welcome this feeling. Stay fully present with the confusion. It will pass. And clarity will come.
Neurotic Fear: “I just can’t.”
Real fear brings up the flight or fight response in us. Laziness often comes from neurotic fear. Instead of fighting for what we want or fleeing to fight another day, obsessive fear makes us freeze. We feel immobilized.
To overcome neurotic fear, admit your fear, allow yourself to feel it, and then take action. As David Richo writes in How To Be An Adult, “Acting because of fear is cowardice; acting with fear is the courage that survives it.”
To overcome neurotic fear, we must do what we fear.
Fixed Mindset: “I’m afraid I’ll fail or look stupid.”
A fixed mindset is a popular term from psychologist Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. With a fixed mindset, people believe their talents, abilities, and intelligence are set at birth.
With a fixed mindset, people fear trying new things because they want to look smart and talented even though they lack experience. Individuals with a growth mindset, in contrast, know their talents, abilities, and intelligence can develop through deliberate effort and practice.
If you hear this voice, change your fixed mindset.
Lethargy: “I’m too tired. I don’t have the energy.”
We invest a lot of energy suppressing our lazy part. The more we run from it, the stronger it becomes in our unconscious. When you feel lethargic, instead of stimulating yourself with caffeine, accept your fatigue.
Achievers, in particular, can use less activity and more naps. Close your eyes. Observe your breath. Embracing the lethargy is often the best way to transcend it. You can also try grounding exercises to unlock your energy. If that doesn’t work, a 60-second cold shower changes our biochemistry and invigorates our minds.
Apathy: “I just don’t care about anything.”
Apathy is the voice of depression. We all get depressed. In my experience as a personal coach, achievers rarely realize when they’re depressed. They just “power through it.” As with laziness, when we fight depression it grows stronger.
There are many sources of depression. Sometimes we are living off our true course, doing too many things we don’t like. We confuse disinterest with laziness.
Regret: “I’m too old to get started. It’s too late.”
Having regrets is a part of adulthood. Regret only holds us back when we don’t allow ourselves to grieve the past. These voices are just beliefs, not truths. They are excuses not to get started right now.
When you hear this voice, feel the sense of loss and then let it go.
Identity: “I’m just a lazy person.”
When we hear this voice, it’s a sure sign our lazy part has hijacked us. When we’re centered, we are neutral. We don’t define ourselves as either lazy people or the opposite (achievers). We just are.
Acknowledge this voice, but then ask it to step aside. We can express laziness, but it never defines who we are.
Shame: “I shouldn’t be so lazy.”
Shame is another voice that teams up with laziness. Shameful thoughts and feelings ensure the lazy part stays in control. Shame and self-criticism reinforce undesirable behaviors like laziness.
Self-compassion enables us to take responsibility and establish different behaviors. Studies show that people who have self-compassion are more likely to take personal responsibility than those who self-criticize.
Psychologist Kristin Neff explains: “The biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”
Being lazy is okay. It says nothing about you. Everyone has a lazy part. You’re not alone.
Hear the Message Behind these Voices
Behind each voice is a message. These thought patterns provide information, nothing more. It’s important to hear these messages and to accept them without judgment or criticism.
The key to overcoming laziness is becoming conscious of the voices driving this behavior. Learn to hear these voices with nonjudgmental awareness.
Make friends with these voices. Learn what they’re trying to communicate. And adopt methods to help you expand beyond the limitations these voices represent.