When You Just Don't Have It In You
As adults, people rely on us. They need us to maintain certain responsibilities. If we are to have a reliable reputation, be able to get a job in the future, a spouse, hang on to our friends and family, etc., there are things we have to do each day. Consider the opposite: when friends reach out to you and you repeatedly say no or don’t respond, they stop asking and eventually contact someone else. In the workplace, our reviews, and whether we keep our jobs, let alone be promoted, are most often based on our contribution as an employee. Most certainly with family – having a spouse or significant other is a two-way street. We must love and give and not just receive. Most of all, if we have children or loved ones who are in need of our care, we are required to give them our attention, our love, our guidance and assistance. Expecting that the world will only provide for us without giving back is not realistic, nor is it responsible.
But what happens when we feel we don’t have it in us? As much as we dig deep, as much as we look for inspiration, as much as we try to “man up,” “pull ourselves together,” or “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps,” we just can’t seem to find the energy, the motivation, or the desire. It would be easier to become detached from the world than have to do *it* another day. “What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “I’ve been doing the same thing for X-number-of-months/years, but it’s the last thing I want to do today – and for the next several for that matter… I just want to take my car for a (really) long drive, or hop a plane to somewhere; or simply pretend I’m not here.”
If not yet, this scenario will become familiar at some point in your life. For many – we’ve been there. I know I sure have. And heck, when was the last time you heard someone tell you they wished for the same escape? I’d say I was “in a funk” and just needed to get myself out of it.
…And most of the time we can – we’re just tired or frustrated, and need to take a breath and a little break, and then we can get back to what we were doing. Most of the time the feeling is temporary. But when it doesn’t go away - the “funk” persists, or when it leaves and comes back again, and again, and again, it’s time to give it some attention.
While I am in no way a medical doctor or psychologist (I’m a business owner, yoga teacher, wife and mom of two, with a master’s degree in communications), my own preference is not to go find someone with some meds to make you feel better. Personally, I think that only helps to hide the issue – not answer it. I’m not a meds person anyhow; I’d rather seek answers in other ways if possible first, before moving on to other things. So if I may be so bold, I would ask you to consider the following:
Share your thoughts with someone else
Listen, our mind is a powerful thing, and what’s fascinating about the brain is that it has about 80,000 thoughts each day. At least half of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and a majority are negative – not because we are evil or cursed. It’s just how the brain works. So, if you keep telling yourself the same thing each day, after a while it becomes pretty convincing. So I would invite you to ask someone else what they see – what they think – someone outside your mind. Who should you to talk to? Ideally someone who cares about you – someone who is willing to set their own agenda aside to listen and give you honest feedback. If you have someone who cares but has their own agenda about what they think you should be doing, go into the conversation knowing that and hear their advice with that bias in mind. If you don’t have someone, consider a local pastor, or similar professional, who has been trained to service others. Maybe event get a second opinion – different people will have different perspectives on life based on their own experiences, which makes getting other perspectives valuable. Be willing to listen. Be open to hear what they have to say. And no, you don’t have to promise them anything in exchange if you don’t feel comfortable.
Accept the fact that you can’t be on overdrive 24/7/365
Reality check… I know I can be in overdrive - getting 5hrs or less sleep and pushing myself to the max when I need to and when I’m passionate. But it only lasts so long. And the less interested I am in the process/outcome, the shorter that stint will last. Our bodies are only created to be in fight or flight mode for so long before things start to happen to us physically and mentally. The next thing you know, you’ve missed out on some pretty important stuff, you’re clothes don’t fit and your loved ones seem to be living separate lives. For the sake of yourself and those you love (and who love you today), take a break. Disconnect. If it means you need someone else to take your phone and your laptop and take you where there is no connection anyhow – even if it’s for an afternoon – DO IT. You may not thank me now, but you will thank me later.
Find inspiration in something else
Sometimes we lose motivation in what we do, and it starts to feel mundane or boring. There’s just no creativity or excitement in it, even though we enjoy what we do. In this case a change of scenery might be in order, so go do something you haven’t ever done – or done in a while. I’d encourage you to get outside. I’d encourage you to do something different. When was the last time you visited a museum? When was the last time you took a walk or hike? You don’t have to climb a fourteener or compile some essay based on what you learned – just take the time to see something different – to do something different. Can’t think of anything? Ask a friend to help come up with something (and maybe join you), Google what’s happening in your area. But do something that gets your mind – and your body – moving, and exploring something different. Notice the people; notice the air and the wildlife; and take it all in.
About the last thing you need is to stay curled up on your couch watching drama (CNN included). Admittedly, when I would feel like the world was a rough place, I would watch House of Cards – quickly convincing me that my world isn’t that bad. But it only took one episode to accomplish that. I had a friend who once said she just couldn’t get up off the couch – she was just really down and out. Fortunately, she reached out to our friend group. We all told her the couch would be there for a long time – that she needed to get her butt out of it and go somewhere. As I mentioned before, our mind is a powerful thing – watching drama on the screen doesn’t make it any better, especially when we are doing it for 8 hours straight. Get up; get out of the house/apartment; breathe fresh air.
Ask why – and seek out an honest answer
If the suggestions above don’t seem to help and you still can’t seem to feel motivated, you may consider digging deeper and spending some time to do a little soul searching. As I mentioned in my blog last week, you can ask the tougher questions all you want, but unless you are willing to listen to your heart to answer why you feel this way, you won’t know how to fix it. Do you need to make a change to yourself or your surroundings? I’m no professional, but I know from my own experiences there is a difference between the temporary frustration and need of a good night’s sleep, and the deeper feeling of unrest and unhappiness that just can’t seem to go away. You know how you feel - better than anyone else - you need to listen to yourself and do something about it. Waiting won’t make it go away.
I don't care what others say - in my world life isn't easy. We face challenges every day, decisions every day. Fortunately, we have an ability to make decisions and make changes - however small - to improve our well-being. But there are times when we feel like the world is really piling it on and we're just not motivated to move forward. For ourselves and for those around us, we need to pause and recognize when the feeling is just a "funk" and when it is deeper and more permanent. We are all blessed with talents and skills and it feels good when we're able to use them and see how they impact others. Recognizing we can give back to the world when it has provided things for us helps us to thrive. Life can definitely be rewarding. We just need to put ourselves in a position to allow for that to happen.