‘Laziness’ is a Construct of Toxic Productivity Culture
Most adults have experienced ‘laziness’ at some point in their lifetime: being called lazy, referring to themselves or others (or their behavior/choices) as lazy, etc.
How we feel in response to that word depends on the person. Some may be triggered into feeling bad about themselves or thinking negative thoughts, while others may wear the label ‘lazy’ as a badge of honor. The term lazy can elicit a variety of responses including, but not limited to, shame, guilt, anger, sadness, or fear.
It all depends on our experiences that have conditioned our nervous system to respond a certain way based on the story about ourselves, beliefs, rules, or active memories we carry in our subconscious..
The thing is…’laziness’ is a construct of the human experience made up to explain or understand certain human behaviors that don’t align with our conditioned expectations.
Simplified, this means that the word ‘lazy’ is used to explain circumstances when a person hasn’t performed to an expected level of productivity held by themselves or someone else.
When a person struggles with managing tasks or time, as we all do from time to time, there are always underlying reasons outside of our ability to *control* with effort and discipline…
Those reasons can include:
- Limited (or depleted) personal resources (aka lack of energy, time, money, etc)
- Lack of support (we just can’t do it all on our own)
- Marginalization [reality denied, struggle quite real and intensified by identity(ies)]
- Trauma or stress response in the nervous system
- Triggered emotions/memories
- Subconscious conditioning
- Subconscious core beliefs
- Basic needs not being met (food, water, shelter, safety is prioritized by the bodymind)
- Physiological and biochemical influences causes by stress
- Modeled or conditioned behaviors (or rules of engagement)
This is not a complete list, by any means, because each individual has a unique set of experiences and environmental factors which contribute to their ability to respond and perform in response to their circumstances, needs, demands, and more. None of these things listed are completely obvious to others, and most/many are not even obvious or accessible to the conscious mind of the individual…
Most importantly, none of these reasons someone may be unable to perform to their own or another person’s expectations can be overcome by applying effort or discipline. In fact, pushing (or grinding) ourselves to do more and more and more when our brain and body are screaming for rest can actually push the person’s nervous system further and further from productivity in an effort to avoid harm. Pushing and grinding our way through tasks to avoid being labeled ‘lazy’ can activate our survival systems that redirect all the energy, focus, and ability to process information necessary to complete the task/s at hand to the systems of survival.
This is why being lazy isn’t really a thing…our human body and brain are wired to shut down when they sense danger, threat, or harm…and grinding is harmful. Well-oiled machines don’t grind! We prioritize maintenance of our cars and computers, so why do we still treat our human body, which is a bio-machine, like it doesn’t need maintenance?! And then when we run out of fuel and/or oil that leads to burn-out, system failure, and/or the inability to push-push-push through all the things we label it as a personal defect or deficiency?! This makes no logical sense!
When we are told or tell others that they aren’t working/trying hard enough or putting in enough effort we are judging them based on OUR OWN experiences, conditioned perception and expectations, environmental factors, or available resources…
And doing so can add to the burden of struggle, deny the reality of the other person (outside of our own experiences/perception), and essentially blame or shame them instead of lifting them up.
Are there times when more effort or discipline can get the job done? Oh, sure…but it is rarely (if ever) helpful to assume a lack of productivity or willpower is the reason a person struggles.
What is helpful then?
A: Examine your personal subconscious conditioning surrounding productivity.
In what ways are you hard on yourself or others? When do you feel triggered into anger, frustration or other discomfort related to productivity?
In those situations, explore what you subconsciously belief or expect, such as:
a. I expect immediate results
b. I expect to not have to wait
c. I expect perfection
d. I am not allowed to rest
e. I will rest when I’m dead
f. I believe it is not safe/desirable/acceptable/polite/pleasing to rest/delay tasks/say no (or for others to do the same)
g. Some other belief, rule, or expectation
When you figure out the underlying driver of your feelings, labels, behavior, or responses…REDEFINE THEM BASED ON TRUTH/REALITY or ask for help doing so if you aren’t sure what or how to do it. This exercise can be difficult because you are going against core beliefs, often those learned in early childhood via experiences or consequences.
B. When you or someone else isn’t ‘up to task’ or accomplishing as much as expected, try Acknowledging the struggle without labeling or judging it, such as:
“I see your struggle…how can I support you?”
At the very least, offering grace and acceptance (sans judgment), such as:
“There is most likely a reason for the delay in productivity that I may not be aware of.”
I hope I have demonstrated just how much our past experiences influence our present perception, as well as how we view, treat, and respond to ourselves and others.
While effort and discipline may not fix things, there are ways you can be supported (and ways to support yourself when you struggle) which CAN help you navigate and recover from those invisible barriers and struggles that are a common part of our human experience.
One last thing I want to point out is that all these reasons we struggle are totally NORMAL part of our humanness — it is what is right with us, not what is wrong with us. It is how our survival systems operate, which is purposeful and important…it is why you are here reading this right now, because your bodymind works well!
The piece that is missing for so many people is that understanding your survival system better improves your chances of creating more comfort and desirable outcomes, and less struggle, suffering, and feeling stuck.