For the past several months, the concept of laziness has been heavily on my mind. I mean this both within and without, because, for the same set of months, my energy levels have been very erratic.
Previously, I would have just enough time to get my tasks done for work in a given day. I would then switch over to housework (with no commute; I work from home). When it came time to take a break for the evening, I would find myself completely exhausted, unable to participate in the wholesome activities that give my life so much meaning.
Yet, despite all of my energies and efforts towards work and the home on a daily basis, not much seemed to actually be getting done. Work was going well (and I've been treated especially well by my peers, I note). Yet, I found myself increasingly embarrassed by my quality of output. It was certainly acceptable
, but my past abilities and attentiveness to detail were clearly starting to slip.
Working on the house seemed literally insurmountable: I would perform quasi-heroic, full-kitchen and full-room cleans on a weekly (sometimes, daily) basis. Yet, the mess piled up again within hours of my efforts. I had not experienced this when living alone, so I surmised that there must be some disparity of labor involved. Yet, try as I might to catalog and communicate this, my energies were too scattered to make much headway, let alone reverse the trend of slipping chores and an unsanitary lifestyle.
It was all quite disheartening. And, for a while, I quietly slipped back into depression. During my more energetic periods, I built personal spaces for myself to recover energy: small, wholesome outposts of activity that I could use to make myself feel good
about myself again. And this worked for awhile... until those spaces started to become disrespected or overtaken. I then began hiding in my room, only coming out for personal needs. My housework plummeted, though my work efforts (via my personal laptop) redoubled. I was still exhausted and rapidly burning out, though.
It should be glaringly apparent at this point that this wasn't healthy
. And, any time I was away from the house, for business or personal reasons, my energy levels would return to their original, high levels. It thus became abundantly clear that there was an energy leak, and that something needed to be done to make amends.
I fault no one in particular. However, I do fault a very specific form of predatory laziness that all of us experience from time to time. This can have a multitude of causes, but its primary symptom is unmistakable: the taking of someone else's energies and time to maintain one's own comfortable quality of living.
This is usually abstracted away in our lives. Every good and every service inherently has a cost associated with it, and try as we might to reduce disparity, many are unfairly exploited as a result. I am personally for (and will continue to be for) the reduction of human abuses in the professional textile industry, for example. But, this specific drain is at a more personal level.
At this level, three abuses were in play:
1) A seemingly reasonable request that is targeted, primarily, at deferring the cost of an action to another.
2) The repeated assertion that one's efforts are inadequate, so as to keep them hungry and wanting after performing any given task.
3) The assertion that these observations generalize, such that in any other, reasonable scenario, the same observations will also be present.
This is a crippling combination. It is to say that, globally, one is inadequate, such that only through one's infinite effort (as no finite effort will ever be sufficient), that person will be able to progress into a state of adequacy.
This is the sort of logical fallacy that developed within me. I am not the person whom directly made these three assertions. I do not believe these assertions were ever explicitly given to me. But, through the combined statements, actions, and negative space of others as they impacted me, it seemed as if these premises were given by implication. I felt understandably upset and abused. And I wanted to find any way that I could, out.
Psychologically, it's useful to note how such a pattern gains purchase within the brain in the first place. The human mind has very strong recency and primacy biases
, and it tries to limit cognitive dissonance
whenever possible, usually through dreams and storytelling. Given the information presented to me, the persistent theme became
my own inadequacy, through repetition, recency, and because it was the simplest and most compelling story that explained my then-position within the household. My own performance, abilities, desires to recover, and desires to improve all plummeted. I sought escape, primarily in video games, which allowed me to properly distance myself without becoming clinically dissociative
. And, through plodding, directed effort, I began to unpack my circumstances and learn how to adapt them to my needs.
One takeaway here is that no one should have to experience this, yet many of us do. At the same time, this pattern isn't one of depression
. It is all too common the result of circumstance, which, often unbeknownst to the instigators, causes these patterns of thought to arise. And it is much too common in the employment treadmill, and in how many artists are treated
Before I continue, I note that I am not wholly blameless. Nor am I the victim of circumstance. It simply took me this long to unpackage and identify my needs accordingly.
What corrected it in my specific instance is a rebalancing of households and household needs. By splitting our joint efforts in two, tasks can now be adequately assessed, communication on how time is spent can open up once again, and calcified processes that had decayed into inefficiency can finally be approached and reorganized. While I once again directly
fault no one, I have no qualms about stating that negatively-reinforcing feedback loops bring out the worst in people, and that I am no exception.
In other words: we had a reorg
The net result is that we're seeing immediate improvements in all of our energy levels. My own battered emotional state, in particular, is recovering rapidly. My productivity and abilities are finally pulling out of their nosedive in quality. And, most importantly of all, I'm starting to feel cheerful and good about myself again.
It isn't perfection. In fact, my goal in writing this out is simply to define it for what it is. All too often, cognitive abuse
, be it from others or from oneself, is too quickly labeled and dismissed as an aspect of depression, when other biases and stimuli are in play.
So, where do I go from here? I have a lot of energy again, primarily from ending old patterns, and I intend to devote it to those people and aspects of my life that are wholesome for me. This means that I will not have time for everyone, and in some specific and rare instances, I'll be making cuts.
This does not mean I do not love you. It means that I will be focusing on those aspects that make me feel holistically good again, and I will be directing my efforts accordingly. A cut is simply an acknowledgement that I haven't made that work, yet.
I hope that isn't too alarming. I'd very much like to open myself up again, and in the interests of doing so, this post is public. But this time, I will be more wary of specific predators and predatory behavior patterns, and I'll be tuning myself accordingly.