Last week, my friend Janice and I had lunch. For as long as I’ve known her, she has been bubbly and energetic, talking about three or four projects with which she was involved and passionate. Over the last few months, however, Janice hadn’t seemed herself. In short, she seemed as she was on auto-pilot, going through the motions of life.
Although I had waited for her to say something about it on her own, I was starting to grow concerned. That day, I asked Janice, “Is everything okay? You haven’t seemed yourself.” She responded with a flat “yes.” I looked at her, and could see something wasn’t right. So, I took a deep breath and asked, “Janice, are you happy?” Her response – a short three words – said a mouthful: “I’m not unhappy.”
Janice’s lack of unhappiness is one of the main symptoms of complacency. We deceive ourselves into thinking we are satisfied when we aren’t, unaware of or unwilling to admit to problems, concerns, or deficiencies. When we become complacent, we are likely to stay in a dead-end job or an unhealthy relationship or a less than optimal living situation for much longer than we should. We fool ourselves into thinking that everything is “fine” when it really isn’t. We become “numb” to our feelings and our thoughts.
If we are complacent, we often feel “stuck,” which in turn leads to stagnation, a loss in motivation and an inability to set and achieve goals. At times, we may even “lose ourselves,” forgetting what really makes us happy in the first place. If left unaddressed for too long, a complacent state can lead to depression, negativity, and even, decreased self-esteem. In short, complacency is a killer.
If you are feeling some of these feelings, it is time to start facing complacency head-on. But how? Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- When do I suspect this started? When did I stop caring? When did I lose energy and interest?
- If I could leave my life today and wake up tomorrow with a fresh, clean slate, what would I do, and who and where would I be?
- When I was a child, what did I love doing so much I would get lost for hours doing it?
- What is the one change I would love to make in my life today?
- What feelings have I been repressing? Why?
- What am I afraid of?
Although none of these questions can be answered easily and on the spot, they help us to break out of a complacent mentality, and force us to think more deeply and constructively about our situation, circumstances, and where we might begin to see opportunities for change towards a better and happier life.
Have you been struggling with complacency recently? Break out of the rut, with A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life.