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nebule's avatar

What is this feeling of Inertia about and how to change it?

Asked by nebule (16446points) October 16th, 2014

“Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion, including changes to its speed and direction. It is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity.”

A little background. I am a self-employed artist and I have a lot to do at the moment. Indeed a long list of things to do. In recent weeks I have felt invigorated and active; I’ve been to meetings, painted a lot, developed ideas, felt buoyant and inspired, energetic even.

This week I have spent a lot of time at home but have this feeling of inertia, I can’t get going..I know I have a lot to do, but something is holding me back. It could simply be tiredness I guess…I feel exhausted, my body aches, my joints hurt. But I also feel rather down, listless, demotivated, hopeless. I have an overwhelming feeling of simply not being able to start anything or finish things that I’ve started. I sit at my desk and think “right! I’ll do that” and I feel a tendency to close my eyes and run away or do something else (like Fluther!)

Do get these kind of feelings of inertia?
What do you do about them?
Is there a psychological resistance to something do you think?

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11 Answers

hominid's avatar

It could be any number of things, from depression to a virus to insufficient sleep to allergies or simply stress-induced procrastination.

Sounds like you’re going to need to try some experimentation. When you can’t start something, try procrastinating with exercise. You might find that your energy will return, and with that motivation and a commitment to begin. It should also help any mood funk you’re in.

It’s also possible that you’re simply sensing a period of automaticity that is not conducive to your creativity. Maybe you could try doing something extremely uncomfortable or unusual in order to shake things up. Is there something you’ve never done that you’ve been nervous to do? If not, it might even be worth picking something for fun. For example, if you live near the ocean, how many times have you decided that October 16th is the perfect time for a swim? If you get stuck this morning, a trip to the beach for an absurd dip into the frigid water – and all of the social awkwardness that will accompany it – might be just the thing to shake things up and provide some motivation for the rest of your day.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It sounds exactly like mild depression. Inertia is not the right description, it’s resistance. It’s harder to overcome static friction than kinetic friction. You just need a bump to get going. Hit the gym and get some cardio. Force yourself if need be.

LuckyGuy's avatar

What a great Question!

You are describing me when I have a lot to do but the deadline is still a bit in the future. You can almost track when my reports are due by the amount of time I spend here. My screwing off and distraction coefficients increase until the deadline gun is aimed right at my head. Then I disappear and become more productive than a hive of bees on dexedrine.

I need deadlines to keep me moving. That might work for you, too. Rather than merely saying “Right I’ll do that”, I will state a specific goal out loud to no one but myself and then do it. “I will eat a small lunch by 11:30 and start the XYZ report”. That works for me. The penalty for not doing it is the loss of confidence in the system.

Now I’ll start the data plot of the transducer testing from last month…. just as soon as I finish putting the sling on my new Benjamin Marauder… and testing it by going outside and shooting a few shots at the apples that fell off the trees last night…. after I take the flash card out of the trail camera aimed in the orchard… after checking the mouse traps in the basement… after….

But sure as I am sitting here, a small lunch will be eaten and the report will be formatted by 11:30!

LuckyGuy's avatar

…after I take out the trash and recyclables… after filling the bird feeders ... after

But the report will be started! Dammit!

LornaLove's avatar

No one could really know, but fear of failure might be one. (Just to maybe give a different perspective). I am dealing with a person who has a fear of failure and when things do start working out well, he seem to sabotage it by just not doing what he is supposed to. Plus, any success he might enjoy does not fit in with his current frame of reference, which is: I’m a big flop, I don’t deserve a life, my life is shit etc., so anything contrary to this disproves this thinking and he is on new territory. I realize that I could be completely wrong but it’s a thought. :)

nebule's avatar

@hominid Yes, i do suffer with depression or rather…experience depression…one or the other. I went for a nap and then picked my son up from school and after that I moved my body and cleaned the house! I’m just about to start doing some of the stuff that I’ve been putting off… I like your idea of doing something out of the ordinary xx

@LuckyGuy Yes, it is so easy to do other things before the stuff that’s really challenging. And some of it isn’t even really challenging…or maybe it is…maybe I’m in denial..

@LornaLove Yes, I think there is much fear there… but I don’t understand how it has all of a sudden got a hold of me. It could be fear of failure. I’m not sure whether there’s something there about ..I don’t know I keep hearing “What’s the point?” in my head. I’ve been doing great for the past few weeks, doing things that scare me, pushing through it and all of a sudden I just want to go to bed and sleep and hide :( The business was doing really well to start with and things have gone a bit downhill in terms of sales. I think I’m disillusioned but I know I need to get a grip…. so I’m off to do my accounts!! :/

stanleybmanly's avatar

I’ve concluded recently that a lot of us are probably for lack of a better definition, low level manic depressives. I’ve brought this up with some dynamic and successful people, because I’ve noticed this tendency has gradually crept into my behavior. I was shocked (and relieved) to discover that most of them (those 40 and above) share the same affliction. The trick is to not let it get out of hand. But how do you determine whether or not you’ve crossed the line? The wife used to panic when I began ignoring the smoking answering machine, and spending the entire day binging on back episodes of “The West Wing” while dabbling here at Fluther. I think it might be some sort of self regulating safety valve. In the end, there’s one thing alone that allows me to get away with it, and that is the fact that my wonderful wife is paying attention. She’s adjusted to my quirks, but intervenes in a flash at signs that I might be ” leaving the tracks”.

flutherother's avatar

You may have a kind of ‘roller coaster’ personality where you soar high at times and then dip down and become lethargic. It might be worth keeping some kind of diary to try to establish if there is a regular pattern to these swings. Maybe there are things you can do on a downswing and other things that are best done on an upswing. As for there being no point, I suspect there is no point and there is no point in thinking there is no point. At times life is for living and at other times it is to be endured.

Coloma's avatar

Do you know your Meyers Briggs type?
I am a huge fan of personality typing and it sure explains me to a “T”.
I am a work in intense bursts type then I just fall off the planet for awhile. haha
Research your personality type and see if you recognize some of your habits and quirks.

nebule's avatar

I have often thought that I have ‘mood swings’ I do indeed have times where I am buzzing; get loads done, feel AMAZING and then…flop. I did bring it up with my mental health worker once but she dismissed it. I don’t have much faith in my Drs at the moment… but I got to the point where I just started believing what they tell me…I’m basically a hypochondriac that worries far too much.

I’m not a massive proponent of personality typing and have not done the Myers Briggs test. But I could give it a go. Perhaps the tests have got more elegant since I studied them in psychology 4 years ago… :)

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