Ripples #1144: Internal Struggles


The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.
-Jesse Owens, shared by Beth in Sleepy Hollow, IL


If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings… The ability to do that with ourselves; to treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we are here for is to learn how to do it.
-David Foster Wallace, shared by Thomas in Idaho Springs, CO


Last week writer Adam Grant published a piece in the New York Times about Languishing, which he described as “the neglected middle child of mental health” and “the void between depression and flourishing.” The term and really the whole article instantly and powerfully resonated with me. I shared it with a few people and I quickly received multiple responses with variations of “This perfectly describes my current state!” and “Oh this explains so much!”

It makes sense to me that many of us were initially running high on the fight-or-flight energy in the early weeks and months of the pandemic which helped fueled our go-go-go. At some point most of us ran out of steam and either gradually found our way to self-care OR were forced into it because of physical or mental health symptoms we simply couldn’t ignore. And now, with over a year of chronic stress and still a few more months of Covid-Craziness to wade through…we’re deeply tired, under-motivated, and our senses have been dulled.

The bad news is that many of us are languishing. The good news is that psychologists have identified some helpful strategies that serve as antidotes for languishing. It turns out that blocking off chunks of quality time to engage in meaningful work or leisure activities can be restorative, and making progress on simple, short term goals can help generate hopeful thoughts and feelings that come along with small wins.

If this resonates with you as it has with me and others, go easy on yourself this week! If you’re up for it, experiment with some focused work time, a bit of immersive play time, and maybe knock off a couple tiny items on your to-do list so you can remember how good small wins can feel.

P.S. Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response to last week’s Ripples about Humanity & Divinity. There were too many wonderful responses to respond personally to each one…but please know I read and savored every single message!

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