I have clients tell me that they’re lazy all the time. Even though they are all high achieving, perfectionistic, over-scheduled students who work more hours in a day than I do. And I work a pretty full day myself. Why is that, you may ask? That doesn’t make any sense. Because that’s how mental illness is; it doesn’t make any sense.
Usually when people beat themselves up for being lazy it’s a telltale sign that they’re probably depressed. A better word for laziness would be something like fatigue. When people are depressed they have no energy, no motivation. Nothing is enjoyable. Getting out of bed is too much effort. But it can’t be depression. That’s just an excuse. I don’t have real problems. I’m just being lazy.
Sometimes being paralyzed with fear can feel like laziness. Because fight or flight aren’t the only possibilities in the face of fear. Sometimes you freeze, like a deer in headlights. This is usually what happens when students have a paper due the next day but they have been staring at a blank screen on their computer for hours without typing a single word.
We do need a certain amount of anxiety to be motivated to do anything, but it doesn’t take much to go from the kind of anxiety that motivates you to the kind of anxiety that paralyzes you. Especially when you try to motivate yourself by saying you suck, you’re disappointing everyone, you’re going to flunk out of school and end up homeless. Not exactly a pep talk. And yet, this is the kind of stuff we say to ourselves all the time.
The ironic thing is, when I was looking for a meme on laziness, I discovered that people who really are lazy don’t feel bad about it. They’re out there looking for hacks to make the most out of their laziness–trying to figure out how to make it seem like they do yoga, or what comfortable clothes they can buy to lounge around in. There’s no shame about it at all. In fact, many of the memes are about wearing their laziness on their shirts like a badge of honor. Literally. Like this one:
And this one:
In case you were too lazy to read the whole blog post, I’ll summarize it for you.
Here are 5 signs that you are not really lazy:
- Your therapist tells you that you are depressed.
- Your therapist tells you that you are anxious.
- You think you’re a loser and a terrible person.
- You worry about homelessness.
- You feel a strong affinity to deer in headlights.
And here are signs that you might actually be lazy:
- You’re a cat.
- You own one of those t-shirts.
- You have a Pinterest board about hacks for lazy people.
- You don’t read them because you’re too lazy.
- Being lazy doesn’t really bother you.
And if you were too lazy to read those signs, then here is the one-sentence moral of this story:
If you’re beating yourself up about being lazy, then you probably aren’t.