Resistance is a bitch.
Resistance is not our friend. It prevents us from doing things we know we need to do, things that are good for us, will move us in the direction we want to head in, will make us happier. WHY? Generally the finger is pointed at fear – fear of failure, fear of success, and every fear in between. This answer has never felt right for me. In repeatedly asking myself ‘why?’ I have come to the unsavoury conclusion that my resistance is due to laziness. Far less glamorous than fear but there you go.
Laziness has always been a problem for me. I’d like to link it to my ever-present demand for meaning (“given the innate meaningless of everything, why bother?”) but unfortunately I think it’s really just plain old laziness.
“Lost time is never found again” – John Hill Aughey
Is laziness inversely correlated to ambition? Does a high level of laziness reflect a low level of ambition? Ambition is defined as “the desire for personal achievement”, which “provides the motivation and determination necessary to achieve a particular end or condition”. Although at face value that conclusion seems to make sense, again it doesn’t feel like it applies to me; I consider myself to be quite an ambitious person.
“Shun idleness. It is a rust that attaches itself to the most brilliant metals” – Voltaire
A psychological phenomenon that I happen to be intimately acquainted with, cognitive dissonance (“a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotions) simultaneously”) seems to play an important role in the paralyzing symptom of resistance laziness. When I first read about it as a first year psychology undergraduate I felt intense recognition and immense relief that there was a name for this tormenting state that can range from a niggling itch to paralyzing mental stand-offs. This is what you get when you combine laziness with ambition. But what about the motivation that is meant to be an inherent part of ambition? Doesn’t that come with the package? What happened to mine?
It’s there. Lying dormant beneath layers of paralyzing dissonance. The motivation isn’t lacking, what’s missing is the action. And the action is lacking because no decision has been taken. I haven’t chosen either my laziness or my ambition so I vacillate between the two, squirming with dissonance and wondering why my behaviour is evidencing such a tragic lack of willpower when I always thought I had so much potential.
“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided” – Farnoosh Brock
Next time you feel resistance laziness ask yourself what you are avoiding making a decision about. DECIDE. Then ACT. Because despite what all the self-help books say, motivation is not the most important thing in making changes in your life. If you really make a decision and own it, the motivation arises naturally – without any dissonance or self-help jargon.