Laziness is a Myth

Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and visiting me today. I’m glad that you are here. Today I’m going to be talking about why I believe that being lazy is a myth. I’m also going to talk about how you can reframe it in a more useful way to empower yourself for change.

Laziness is the disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or to exert oneself. The definition itself is the first reason that I feel that laziness is a myth. I have never met anyone who was truly unwilling to exert effort and who is ever truly in a state of inactivity. What I have seen is a lot of people that are not exerting their effort or acting in ways that they or society feels that they should be. These means that when people are called lazy, what is really being said is that they are failing to meet the expectations put upon them by themselves and society.

Which leads me to the first question that I always ask when the laziness topic gets brought up: Who says this thing needs to be done? For those of us with chronic illnesses, we often have to spend our spoons carefully and in different ways than those around us. First, there is nothing wrong with this. Second, we need to embrace this reality for the best possible quality of life. That being said, it is important to ask ourselves why we are focusing on getting a task done. Are we doing it because it is important for our health and well being or are we doing it because it is what we were taught responsible adults do?

It is easy to fall into the responsible adult trap. We are all taught as children what a clean home should look like and what tasks need to be completed to achieve that status. It is now time to take another look at that rule set and ask if those rules are serving you and those that live in your house hold. If they aren’t, then it’s time for a change. Every rule that you have in your home should serve to better the health and well being of those that live there. If it doesn’t move towards that end, then the rule isn’t needed.

Do you really need to fold your laundry? There is no real reason that they cannot be put away in the dresser unfolded. It just means that those clothes will have more wrinkles. When it comes to socks, underwear and pajamas does the amount of wrinkles even matter? Same with clothing that isn’t for work. How much do those wrinkles really matter in your Jedi t-shirt? If they fit in the drawers unfolded then why doesn’t that count as put away if it works for you? Just as equally valid is the laundry basket of clean clothing sitting at the end of the bed. Why doesn’t this count as the laundry being done? They are in a place that the clothing can be found and they aren’t getting in the way. What’s the problem?

But there are times that there are tasks that we need to do or want to do and are not getting done. I will argue that this is still not because of laziness. I will argue that whenever someone doesn’t complete a task as desired it is not because of laziness but rather because there are barriers preventing their action. These barriers can be all sorts of things. Often times it is because there are not enough spoons for the task. It can be because there were more things to get done then there was time to complete the tasks. It can be because of neurodivergence. The neurodivergent brain thrives best under different conditions than the neurotypical brain, yet most neurodivergents set up their home setting under the neurotypical frame work which creates numerous unseen barriers for our functioning.

Please, dismiss the myth of laziness. It is harmful and helps no one achieve anything. When you declare that yourself or someone that you live with is lazy, you are not leaving much room for discussion, problem solving or solution finding to improve the situation. Instead of declaring a person lazy, ask what the barriers are. That would look something like this: “You didn’t make an appointment with your doctor and I know that’s really important for you to stay on track with your illness. What do you think the barriers were in keeping you from making that appointment?” See how that opens the door for so much more? Those barriers can be things like distraction or phone anxiety or fatigue. Each will present a different problem solving approach regarding how to get that appointment scheduled.

When a plant fails to grow well, we don’t call the plant lazy. We look at that plant’s environment and we consider the ways that we can change the environment to better help the plant to grow. I believe that people are the same. When people are not reaching their full potential, we shouldn’t call them lazy. We should look at what we can do about their environment to help them be more successful. And just like with the plant, sometimes that means that person needs outside help to be successful. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with either the plant or the person. It means that they are not capable of making the environmental changes needed without help. Would you ever expect a plant to change it’s own soil? Of course not. Sometimes, people need this kind of help too. A resetting of things that is too big to be done alone.

The final reason that I feel that laziness is a myth is that it is logically flawed when examined. Let’s consider an example. There is a person who decides that they want to attend a lecture because the topic is interesting and will help them do their job better. They put it on their calendar. They make arrangements with their schedule so that they can attend the lecture. But then when the day comes they don’t attend the lecture. It would be easy to dismiss this person and state “they were too lazy to attend the lecture.” The first logical flaw here is that the idea of laziness implies a willful choice. Why would someone willfully choose not to attend an event that they decided carried benefits for them? That choice doesn’t logically make sense. Laziness also implies that they were not willing to commit the effort for the event. Yet they already committed effort for this event by making arrangements with their schedule. So that logically doesn’t make sense either. But if we instead consider this from a barrier perspective, it makes much more sense. The person wanted to attend but was unable because there was something that prevented them from attending. Could have been a car accident or a flare in the chronic illness or a sick child. There are a lot of possible barriers. But now it makes sense that a person would invest effort in the beginning and then not attend.

By shifting the frame of thought from laziness to that of barriers, we empower ourselves towards change which is the single most important reason to make this shift in thinking. When we consider ourselves as lazy, we dismiss ourselves as being morally shallow and flawed. When we consider ourselves as having barriers in our lives, we give ourselves the power to navigate those barriers. It is not us that is flawed but rather the system in which we are working within. And we have the power to change that system.

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