Are some of us lazy?

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There are many angles to look at this dilemma, but let’s focus on two; 1. Want, 2. Need.


Based on piles of evidence, if we want something we tend to put more effort into getting it than if we need something. We examine much more possibilities of acquiring whatever it is we want and less time allowing our insecurities or emotions to stop us. However, just because we want something doesn’t mean we will do what is necessary to get it.


Needing something, however, seems to have less urgency than wanting in most situations. There are exceptions to both desires. I know I could benefit from it. Therefore I know I need it, but just not now, maybe later. Have you thought like that before? In both scenarios, there still is that element of what we call as being lazy if we don’t do it.

So why do we find ourselves at times, acting lazy? Is there more to it than that? Is being lazy a front for something else?

Laura D. Miller, LCSW, is a graduate of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program at the William Alanson White Institute. Her explanation of laziness is interesting, to say the least.

“Laziness” is an overused criticism—a character judgment­­, that does nothing to help us understand why someone doesn’t exert the effort to do what they want or are expected to do. If we examine what’s behind the procrastination and avoidance, we find numerous complicated issues: Perhaps Laziness is a MYTH! Let’s see why:


  1. The fear of failure: Many people get in their own way by postponing the pursuit of goals, because their estimation of themselves may be low. They’re afraid if they make an effort, their inadequacy will be exposed, and that would be devastating. Better instead not to try. We are all familiar with this strategy.
  2. The fear of success: Fear of failure is very real: Many people are unconsciously worried that they’ll succeed in ways potentially threatening to others. Therefore, they avoid conflict by not moving forward. Imagine a woman who gets a promotion and now make a lot more money than her traditional husband. Or a man who comes from a background of alcoholics who gets sober. While these seem like great goals, the consequent change in roles can be potentially disruptive.
  3. The desire for nurture: We all want this. But some of us don’t know how to ask for what we want directly. Therefore, we act useless as a way of getting others to do things for us. A guy might not iron a shirt for a wedding knowing his girlfriend will be appalled and do it for him, despite her complaining, “You’re lazy!” But this might be a way for the guy to feel taken care of without having to acknowledge that that’s what he wants. The problem with this is that if people rely on this tactic too much, it can frustrate others who feel coerced or who want to feel taken care of as well!
  4. The fear of expectations: People who show low esteem do so as a way to prevent others from having high expectations for them. People who rarely make plans and establish themselves as “lazy” so that other people do the planning for them. That person then has the freedom to show up or not based on whim. They avoided commitment while others had to take it on for them. They made themselves vulnerable by doing things for that person, while that person remained responsibility-free.
  5. The passive-aggressive communication: Fear of conflict is a problem for many of us. We worry that the expression of our irritation will injure and cause a falling-out. People who avoid conflict bury their unhappy feelings. They may communicate to them indirectly through being “lazy,” all to upset another person. If a person feels neglected by their significant other, then they may stop doing or wanting normal things as a means to show the feelings of neglect. That person may think they have just gotten “lazy.” But that explanation avoided the bigger issue of their lack of fulfillment, as well as the other person, may feel neglected as well.
  6. The need for relaxation: Many people feel that they should always be going all out, and punish themselves for being “lazy” when their body and mind shut down in protest. Our culture puts a premium on productivity and hard work. The reality is that everyone needs time to relax and revitalize.
  7. The feeling of depression: Symptoms of depression are a lack of motivation, fatigue. In criticizing themselves for “laziness,” a person may not see the signs that they are depressed. People who are depressed many times feel stuck. The anger they may feel towards themselves for being in that state makes their depression worse. Self-criticizing for “laziness” is common among people dealing with depression.

The Real Symptom

If you think of yourself as “lazy,” consider your behavior as the symptom of a problem, rather than the problem itself. The more you understand your motivation, the more you will be able to get out of your way. Stop criticizing yourself as “lazy.” People who think of themselves as lazy feel trapped in their behavior. Addressing the real issues can be incredibly liberating.


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