Have you become apathetic about something you care about? This may seem like a strange question. After all, it assumes that you are resigned about something that is important to you.
However, I believe most of us are resigned about something that is important to us a good chunk of the time. If we have strong self-awareness, commitment and discipline we may be able to pull ourselves out of apathy every time we fall into it. But, I think resignation is unavoidable for human beings. I am not suggesting that all of us are apathetic all the time. But, it is the nature of people to dream and aspire, but when things don’t go as planned, we often become resigned and apathetic.
This happens all too often. We see a possibility for ourselves in an area that is important to us, perhaps it’s about being more successful, making more money, being healthier, having a relationship or simply being happier. We believe it can really come true for us. We open our heart to it, and this makes us very excited and hopeful. We feel that “everything is possible,” and “we can have it all.” Call it falling in love, with our life.
We then step out into the world and things don’t quite pan out the way we anticipated; it’s harder to stay with the program or drive progress or results than we expected, others aren’t as receptive, collaborative or supportive as we hoped, and results don’t happen as fast and big as we planned.
At first, we get a little discouraged but when reality continues to be challenging, a nagging doubt begins to emerge. After a while, we start second guessing our dreams or our abilities. Finally, deeper discouragement descends that often leads to resignation, apathy and giving up.
Our internal conversations change throughout this progression too. As stated above, at first we feel like “everything is possible” and “life is grand.” Then, we slide into personal invalidation: “What was I thinking?” and “I wasn’t cut out for this level of success or happiness.” Then, we avalanche into undermining overgeneralizations like: “life isn’t a fairytale,” and “I need to lower my expectations.”
Resignation manifests in different forms and at different levels. Sometimes we are clear that we are resigned. We feel generally apathetic and upset, discouraged or depressed about what we feel we can’t do, achieve or obtain. Sometimes, the fact that it’s hard to get out of bed is a clear indication that we are resigned.
But, often apathy doesn’t feels to us like apathy. We go about our normal life lacking motivation, energy and inspiration, but it seems like what we are experiencing is normal, just the way life is.
We often don’t realize that the negative feelings and thinking are rooted in apathy and resignation about something that is important to us.
Have you noticed that when people are resigned about the possibility of achieving or getting what they want, they tend rationalize things, justify themselves and generally have more of a cynical or even sarcastic attitude about their struggles?
For example, people who are overweight often tend to downplay the importance of healthy eating and exercising. People who are not in a relationship tend to have negative perspectives on the importance of relationships or marriage. And people who can’t get promoted tend to blame others or the corporate environment.
The logic of this reaction is clear – it is too painful to take 100% ownership of our current situation. Most of us can’t stay in bed and give up altogether, so we resort to adopting a victim mentality, becoming cynical or numb and apathetic about our unfulfilled aspirations. We find ways to avoid feeling the pain every day.
The good news is that resignation and apathy are actually very normal and natural for people. You are not alone and resignation is not insurmountable. The key is how to catch it quickly and transform it.
To transform your apathy, you need to first own your reality. You have to be honest about the fact that you are in fact resigned about an area of your life. When you are honest and own your predicament, you become more authentic and stop pretending like you have your act together and everything is going well. By being more authentic, you can start exploring new ways to achieve what you really want.
After all, we all know that there is always more than one way to get things done. In fact, many times the new ways we derive after we get unstuck turn out to be even more effective and inspiring than our original plans.
Owning your resignation and apathy also allows you to return to your original sense of possibility and commitment. Once you are back on the saddle, you probably don’t need any help!