Resignationitis – Do You Have It? Is it contagious?

“I’m always late.”

“I’m so disorganized.”

“I have no self confidence”

“I’m fat”

“My self-esteem is like zero.”

“I don’t know how to use a [computer, smart phone, GPS, etc], and I’ll never learn.

“Well, that’s just how I am.”  

Have you ever noticed how often people say things like this and just shrug in resignation?  They act like there is nothing to be done about any of it.  I suffered from “resignationitis” for a long time before I was stopped in my tracks and had a big aha moment.  I had to ask myself whether it was really true that I couldn’t do anything about it.  Was I doomed to suffer?  Was this a trait like eye color, height, and the size of my ears that just are there and immutable?  Was it hopeless or did I just tell myself that it was?  

Now before some of you get your knickers in a twist making excuses for yourself and telling me that I don’t understand, let me assure you that I do understand and acknowledge some truths here.  I understand that there are times when mental health issues have created some of these issues.  What I won’t say is that it is easy to change thoughts and habits that have held us hostage.  What I also won’t say is that there is a quick cure — or even a permanent cure for some of these things.  However, there are doctors, medications, books, articles, and groups of people who can absolutely help you move toward where you want to be and stop making excuses.

My friend René (the author of the wonderful blog Black Girl, Lost Keys) writes about issues with ADHD and with race.  She has written extensively about how ADHD gets in the way for her and many others in their efforts to do things.  That is a legitimate roadblock.  But here’s the thing, she spends a great deal of her time and energy endeavoring to find and write about the ways she and others can try to adapt, possibilities that enable her to be able to do what needs to be done to be successful.  If you had me told years ago that this extremely talented writer who couldn’t meet a deadline would be so successful as a freelance writer and life coach, I would have questioned it.  Never would I have questioned the talent, but I would have questioned her ability to make a schedule, stick to it, and meet deadlines.  And here she is killing it!  

Much of my life is the story of resignationitis.  I suffer from depression which leaves me incapacitated at times.  When I was working full time as a teacher (which never was and never will be an 8:00 to 3:00 job), raising a child as a single parent, and trying to just find ways to do anything else with all of that, I often failed.  I always got up and went to work.  I wasn’t always at my best during the worst bouts, but I could hit the reset button every forty minutes when a new class came in and perform.  I had a great deal of trouble finding the energy and, frankly, the desire for planning for the next day, week, unit.  I had major problems getting papers graded and returned in a timely fashion.  And then there were the additional demands of paperwork, meetings, and communication that were usually done only when it became do-or-die time.  I would go home from work, fall on the sofa, and either sleep or just stare into space until I had to go to my son’s game or pick him up from practice.  If he was in an off season for sports, he would often have to wake me to find out if we were having dinner.  For years I plodded along doing what I thought was the best I could.  I took meds but otherwise made the excuse: “it’s just how I am.”

I’m not sure if I didn’t really think that more help was available or if I was just unable to pursue more possibilities.  Being retired put me in a place where I don’t have to make myself get up and do anything.  That’s dangerous for me.  For the past few years, I have been doing what I should have done years ago!  I am actively pursuing, if not cures and solutions, at least coping mechanisms and tools to help work myself out of the funk.  I have days that I still have to go into survival mode and turn into a hermit.  I’ve accepted (grudgingly) the knowledge that I am not going to find the magic pill or charmed cure to relieve me forever.  There will be times that I hit bottom.  What I am now working on is finding the ways to help me climb out and not spend days wallowing there.

If you are in the throes of “resignationitis,” there some things you can do to help get yourself unstuck.  This is some really good advice.  It is advice that has been given to me.  I also know that I am intermittently successful with it.  It may not work every day, but I’m making progress instead of rolling over and giving up.  Moving forward is something. That’s the best I can do…for now.

  1. Quit accepting the unacceptable.  Don’t resign yourself to not being able to make your life better.  Feeling less than, having no self-esteem or self-confidence, think you can’t learn something?  Recognize and give yourself credit for what you can and have done.  Don’t allow yourself to engage in negative self-talk.  Talk yourself up.  Don’t label yourself as the problem.  Remember the Psalmist’s claim that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  If you are ever doubting your worth, read Psalm 139!  Don’t call God a liar.  He knows you and values you.  He tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
  2. Find help. Like many others I was sure that I could handle things myself on some days and that nothing could help on other days.  The “help” I was getting came from people who told me things like “snap out of it” or “you’re only as happy as you decide to be.”  Gee, I wish I had thought of that!  Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy.  The Bible refers often to the need for medicine, balms, healing, and binding up wounds.  I finally sought the help of my doctor.  It took a while but we were able to stabilize my emotional state with medication for awhile.  But I needed more than just my GP to get me through this so I asked her for referrals.  
  3. Find guidance.  Maybe you don’t have the kind of problem that can be alleviated with medication or not with medication alone.  A pill won’t fix your lack of computer knowledge or your self-esteem.  So find a professional who can help you.  In Luke 5 Jesus talks about people needing a doctor.  Since his comments come after being criticized for the company he kept, I think he is referring not only to the physical but all of our health needs!  Find a mental health practitioner.  Find a computer expert, a cooking instructor, a fitness instructor or class, or whatever it is that will be helpful.  Admit when you need help and quit trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman.  Figure out why you are afraid of change.  One of my regrets in life is how long it took me to look for help.  I was going to do it myself, or I bought into the idea that there was something wrong with seeking out help.  Now I know there is something wrong with NOT getting it.
  4. Make your health — physical, mental, and spiritual — a priority and carve out the time. 1 Corinthians 6 reminds us that our bodies are part of Christ, that they are temples to the Holy Spirit.  Sounds like something that deserves our attention and care.  However, if you are anything like most of the people I know, you don’t take the time to do things for yourself.  It is easy to get so caught up in the busyness of life and in taking care of your family, friends, work, home, and everyday things that you don’t make time for yourself.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have what is necessary to take care of anything else. 
  5. Read to learn and explore ideas that work for you.  The book of Proverbs, which is filled with instruction, begins by exhorting us to learn, to teach the inexperienced.  He then particularly mentions those who are “seasoned men and women” who still have “at thing or two…to learn.”  I was lucky enough to have a counselor who was good at recommending reading and videos for me.  By having them, I am able to have reminders and resources right at my finger-tips to keep me focused on what tools I have at my disposal.  (See reading list at the end of this post)  Proverbs 1:5
  6. Surround yourself with positivity and encouragement.  Proverbs 4 says to “keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” I collect quotes and Bible verses that speak to me.  I keep a collection of the books and articles that I have found helpful.  I have youtube videos and TEDTalks bookmarked on my computer to remind me that I can do something.  No only do I have to keep the positive things close by, but I also need to make room for them.  There are also times I have to remove things that are negative and disturbing.  I quit watching the news, take a break from social media, and keep my reading to things that will lift my spirit and offer me knowledge and learning to keep my mind active in positive ways.  I had an old friend who offered the country wisdom, “what’s down in the well, comes up in the bucket.”  The modern version of this comes from the tech world — GIGO (garbage in garbage out).
  7. Surround yourself with people who are encouraging, helpful, and kind —  those who share your values and support your work. Look for those who “encourage each other and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  It takes a lot for me to give up on people, but I have found that there are times I need to walk away.  Sometimes I just need space from someone in order to reset boundaries.  Sometimes I separate from them permanently because they are toxic to my healing.  Do what is healthy for you.  Among those the Bible would steer us away from are fools who waste your time and words, know-it-alls, and angry hotheads because their temper is contagious.  Don’t let someone guilt you or shame you into being what they want instead of who you are or need to be. 
  8. Pray.  Rely on God to know what you need and be there to help you through.   “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4:6
  9. Understand that you will take two steps forward and one step back.  It won’t happen over night, it will involve set-backs and even days of failure.  As long as you keep taking the two steps forward, the one back won’t put you back at the start. 

Don’t settle for a life that isn’t what you want it to be.  Make up your mind to do something about whatever has you resigned to being less than.  You will make progress – sometimes it will be slow and sometimes you’ll fall back. Last week I hit rock bottom.  I wallowed for a day or two.  I told myself all the lies about not being adequate and engaged in a lot of negative self-talk, but then I took my own advice, and things are moving forward again.  This is huge progress for me.  Instead of weeks or even months of pain, I have found ways of coping.  The biggest difference is that I now know that I will come out on the other end.  It takes effort but is really worth it.

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.  If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”  Philippians 3:15-16


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