A new word entered our lexicon this year. Languishing. The state of feeling wilted, withered and weak. It seems our motivation has dulled, and a constant state of blah-ness has taken over.
“Though we may not feel burnt out or hopeless, we sure don’t feel like we’re flourishing, said Dr. Corey Keyes, the sociologist who coined the term “languishing” in 2002.
Do you feel like this? Do you have friends, colleagues and family members feeling like this? You are not alone. After all the fear and anguish and grief collectively piled on us in 2020, it is very tough to get excited about pretty much anything that comes our way. Too many of us believe we have lost control, have no control or are subject to the political winds of the day.
In straightforward terms, we are experiencing an absence of the good stuff: purpose, belonging, contribution, satisfaction and interest in life. And this absence can feel like a “piercing void in your soul,” Keyes said. In other words, this state of stagnancy is a form of suffering, although most of us have yet to acknowledge it.
So how do we begin the process of un-languishing?
There are a few simple but not so simple ideas we could try.
1. Unplug from all electronics. Naturally, this seems impossible. Start small. Try 15 to 30 minutes a day with no cell phones, laptops, ipads and other distractions. Find a small piece of nature and sit. Allow the noises that bombard you daily to loosen and dissolve a bit. Consider going for an hour-long walk. Beside some water, in a wooded green area — any area that helps to get you closer to nature.
2. Permit yourself to do what you want for a couple of hours. Too often, we are so focused on trying to be the best and forget to permit ourselves to play hooky. This means that when we play hooky as we languish, even more guilt sets in after we take stalk of what little we did. Give yourself permission first. Set a time limit and savour every minute. Yes, you are indeed worth it.
3. Talk to someone you trust. To some extent, most of us feel this languishing way. Next time you ask someone how they are, choose to ask them how they are coping. That will kickstart a better, more impactful dialogue.
4. Feel the feels. It is perfectly okay to give yourself the space to feel the emptiness, the blah-ness and the futility of it all. Because when you allow yourself to feel the feels, the negative thoughts always pass much quicker. It’s when we bottle them up inside; they take forever to leave us. And yes, sometimes having a good cry is just the thing we need.
5. Take a close look at your Wheel of Life.
Your Wheel of Life
Far too many of us focus on the part or parts in our lives that are not working right — even Pre-Covid Days. And when we pay attention to only the negative things, we fail to see the beautiful things. Your Wheel of Life will show you some of the pieces you constantly overlook.
Your Wheel of Life is made up of at least ten different areas. Think of a wagon wheel, with five main spokes sub-divided into at least two parts.
Your Creative Life is made up of Health & Fitness and Fun & Recreation. Your Social Life is about your community and your environment (often referred to as your home). Your Love Life is about Family & Friends and Partners & Love. Your Life Purpose is about Growth & Learning, and Spirituality. And your Business Life is about Money & Finance and Career & Work.
These days, in particular, most of us are fixated, even obsessed, on the business area. Money, Finances, Work. The truth about fixations and obsessions is negative begets more negative. Negative always block out the beautiful. And for too many of us, we don’t realize how beautiful the other parts are of our life.
That is why I encourage a holistic look at the entirety of your life. Each one of us is more than what we do for a living, more than our paycheque and more than the (what appears to be shrunken) lives we are leading today.
Take the challenge with me
Assign a value of 1 to 10 to each of the ten different spokes in your wheel. In this case, one refers to a disastrous; I can’t deal with it area. And 10 refers to a state of amazement, as in I can’t believe how fabulous it is. And anything between 4 and 7 screams, ‘I can be so much better if you give me a chance.’
The first thing you want to do is look at the high-scoring areas in your life. I bet you had no idea about some of them, did you? For some of you, it’s your partners and love. For others, your family and friends are super amazing, and your spirituality is strong. Others of you might realize your creativity gets full-on high marks. And yes, while the business life is down a bit, it actually may not be as bad as you thought.
You see, it’s all about perspective. And since the last fourteen months have robbed us of the ability to look at anything with a bit of distance between you and it, this exercise does do wonders for lightening the load on your shoulders.
The next thing you want to do is gently examine the actions that got you to where your numbers are sitting. Think about the positive steps you have taken to make such strides. And think about the negative actions you have taken to hit those lows. Are there any actions you could change?
The more challenging question is would you change them? Because change is difficult for the best of us. And Baby Steps or one step each day is the best way to move forward.
How to Un-Languish
The easiest way forward through ‘languishing’ is to set a small goal, work to accomplish about 80% of that goal and then set another goal. The hardest way forward through ‘languishing’ is to jump in with both feet, start down a radical path of adjustments and then give up in frustration when the results do not materialize quickly.
Start small. Unplug from all electronics. Give yourself permission to play. Talk to someone you Trust. Feel the Feels. Take control of your Wheel of Life.
And if this strikes a chord, you might be interested in joining with a group of similar truth-seekers in the Reclaim Your Personal Power Project. Details here.
The languishing thing is real. And there is no one size fits all formula. Too many people are suffering in silence. There are easy and gentle ways to move forward. The power rests with you.