The Laziness Myth

The Laziness Myth

The concept of laziness is one that can cause incredible shame and encourage us to berate ourselves endlessly.

In a culture that tells us we’re only valuable if we’re productive, being tired and taking breaks can weigh on us and seriously affect our mental health and self-concept, even though it’s a perfectly natural phenomenon.

We invalidate our feelings of burnout and fatigue by telling ourselves that we’re being lazy, especially if we haven’t done anything during the day that we think warrants tiredness.

Not getting everything on your to-do list done doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to feel exhausted. When we feel this way, our bodies are telling us that we need to wind down, and it is more than okay to do so.

“Lazy” was originally used to describe somebody who dislikes work or effort. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Procrastination, which we often conflate with laziness, does not come from a place of not wanting to work but rather from anxiety and perfectionism.

This anxiety can spiral out of control and affect us in all sorts of negative ways, even though it’s only because we feel pressure to complete our work flawlessly.

We’ve been taught that hard work is actually more moral than rest, and in turn that we cannot trust our own feelings and our body’s cues. This makes it almost impossible not to feel like we’re doing something wrong by taking a break.

Further, people with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety find it incredibly hard to muster the motivation to get things done, which is entirely valid. Part of the reason that these afflictions are so common is this laziness narrative. If you see emotions as a threat to your productivity, then it’s incredibly hard to avoid shame around giving yourself what you need.

If you think that you’ve fallen into the trap of the laziness lie, that’s okay. Most of us have. Try to notice what you do and don’t do from a place of non-judgement and ask yourself what you are realistically capable of. If you feel that you’re not capable of “enough”, that’s just the narrative infiltrating your mind again.

Everybody has their limits, and the more you respect those limits and prioritise self-care the more you will be able to fulfil your tasks to the best of your ability. Try to rearrange your time and tasks in such a way that allows for you to rest and reset if at all possible.

It’s also important to consider that the pandemic has emotionally exhausted us. It’s natural to feel less productive during this tumultuous and confusing time, and you should give yourself the space to feel that way.

Don’t link productivity with inherent goodness – you are no less of a person for procrastinating, feeling tired or taking a rest.

Respect yourself as the wonderful, capable woman that you are. There’s no shame in giving yourself what you need.

Let us know in the comments below if any of you have been feeling this way recently?

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63 thoughts on “The Laziness Myth

  1. tirzahwillemburgfatima says:

    Procrastination is something I have been entirely guilty of at times and I never understood why. This write up gives a new perspective on things. Perfectionism…guilty. I do try and make time for myself though those times are few and far inbetween. I’ll do better now after having read this. Thank you for the insight.

  2. Ayanda Magagula says:

    Though I agree with the statement “everyone has their’s own limits ” however I do believe that certain individuals are more down right lazy , like the article said if you plan your to do list proper you can manage to do most if not all . Some people are forever tired and with no medical or mental reason . Like for instance cleaning the house should be a daily thing , now one can make a schedule or plan on where to start , like just after breakfast wash your dishes and tidy up in the space you are sitting instead of leaving your dishes in the sink until lunchtime then dinner and by that time your sink will be full to capacity and it’s really worse to tackle it when the mess is too much

  3. cmondlane92 says:

    I’ve always advocated for rest- we live in a society that tells us NOT to listen to our bodies and that’s far from the truth. Often, our bodies give us subtle hints of what it needs but we don’t pay attention. It’s okay to pause and listen even if others call it being lazy

  4. lazolajoyi says:

    I find myself doing other tasks first… I don’t know maybe to muster up the momentum to get other tasks done. But I agree, it’s not laziness sometimes you just need to rest or complete tasks that give you the momentum to complete others. Own race own pace.

  5. zayinleah says:

    Sometime during hard lockdown I felt this feeling of being mentally exhausted. We have been programmed to think it’s wrong to feel that burnout but it’s not. What if it’s the body’s way of telling you to take a break and get some motivation!