When You Want To Do Things, But Just Can't ... What Is That?

MT Johnny

Is it just depression? Or something deeper? I have many things I want to do, and I just can't bring myself to do them. Even things I need to do, simple things like put away the clean laundry - it seems like such a mountain to climb and I just don't have the energy. So I kinda do the absolute minimum I can get away with - and wait to do things I must do until I can't put them off any more.


Avoidance can also simply be unconsciously or consciously avoiding our triggers, and the more we avoid triggers, the more triggers we seem to find to avoid.

I think that a big big chunk of mine (I'm incredibly avoidant) comes from when I was between about five and seven years old. I just could not work out what I was getting constantly physically punished for, or dragged off to the headmaster for (my father had warned me that if he ever heard that the school headmaster had beaten me, he would give me an even worse beating when I got home...).

The thought would suddenly creep into my mind that what I was busy doing, especially if it was fun, would result in drastic consequences, so it was far better to just not do things.

I found other associations too, seeing only one magpie from the school bus was a sure omen that that week i'd be dragged to the headmaster's office and left to sweat outside it, the same for eating custard. It was only decades later that I learned the concept of the post hoc fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc - after this therefore because of this - the cockrel crowing does not cause the sun to rise, regardless of what the cockrel would claim).

It's taken me well over 40 years to realize that it probably had far more to do with the young school teacher's own issues than it had to do with any actions by me - but I'd been told that school teachers (and policemen) were very clever people who were always right - by my mother who happened to be a school teacher.

Add onto that, spending 7 years in a boarding school, where the chances of actually getting started on things I wanted to do - was zero.

Avoidance and learned helplessness, they're bastards.

MT Johnny

Yeah, kinda of thinking about the responses, I see it more along the lines of crippling anxiety, because all of these things, even though simple on the face of them, have issues related to anxiety about "stuff in my life". Like my comment about the laundry - well, I find it overwhelming because I have a house that has been ignored for almost 3 years now, and it's such a mess it feels overwhelming. It's like I have a million things that all need to be done NOW, so I end up doing NONE of them because I can't do ALL of them and get them done.


This is my first post. I have been struggling with non-productivity for years. It's been a nightmare since I lost my job 3 years ago.
For me, I just feel so very, very, very overwhelmed. All I can do is zone out playing computer games and other light and fluffy, can't deal with real life type activity. I feel like I'm in a triggered state.

It also feels like I can't do one more thing that isn't fun or positive because the positive/negative thing hasn't been at all balanced in my life, especially the last 13 years or so. One can only handle so much neutral or negative without some positive to balance it out. If life is all work...

It seems that when I am calmer and feeling more in touch with my inner nurturing adult, I can sometimes talk myself into starting something small, and it progresses from there until I get frustrated or overwhelmed again.

The Albatross

For me at the most difficult times it all comes down to, "When the pain of staying the same is equal to or greater than the perceived pain and/or the stress/fear/anxiety... I act." Once getting the habit and then behavior of acting to initiate change or to do something... it get's easier. For me initially it was more than procrastination... it was fear based/anxiety based paralysis. It kept me prisoner for quite a while and I won't be volunteering to go back that way again... no how, no way buddy.

Go Hungry

a house that has been ignored for almost 3 years now, and it's such a mess it feels overwhelming. It's like I have a million things that all need to be done NOW, so I end up doing NONE of them because I can't do ALL of them and get them done..

Oh yeah.. been there.. done that. Back before I got kicked out of my giant house and had to move to a tiny apartment, this was my daily life. It's an odd thing about spaces.. It seems that we always find more stuff to fill it with, until it just becomes overwhelming... And often the stuff isn't really useful, it just sits there and gathers dust after the "New" wears off. I was lucky in a way... I had to downsize massively, as there simply wasn't room enough for all my stuff when I moved here.. So I pared down significantly.. But still, it was way too much. I had an embarrassing moment when some of my friends helping me move used a wheelbarrow to move my clothes.. That was both sad and hilarious. And it sat there.. all that stuff stayed in my place for probably 15 months before I just got tired of looking at it and started throwing things away.

First it was clothes.. I had a ton of old clothes, some of it 10 years or more, that didn't even fit me. I had this idea that I would lose enough weight to wear them again. Fat chance. :rolleyes: When I started throwing them out, I had 10 shopping sacks jam-packed with stuff to take to Goodwill.. I even sat them next to the door so I wouldn't forget to take them.... They sat next to the door for 2 months before I realized that the trash chute was the only way I was going to get rid of them. Same thing with the books.. and the comic books.. and the VHS tapes.. All of it saved for charity, all of it eventually thrown away. That's the only way to do it, I find. And all of this was after I was forced to leave behind a literal ton of former possessions when I moved.

Aargh.. that was tangent. But anyways, I've been where you are. So much clutter, so much crap, it's overflowing and it's hard to even find enough room for daily living. Dishes stacked to the moon, old food boxes and containers, antiques, just a mountain of things that need to be tended to.

My suggestion? Arson. :hilarious:

Okay maybe that's a little extreme. Horrible as it is, just find One. Little. Thing. and do it. Just one. Get that out of the way. Then do a ruthless inventory of a small amount of the crap that has accumulated over the years and determine if you ever will actually use it AGAIN. Not how much you enjoyed it before, not how you could sell it, not how it could be donated.. Just pure functionality for YOU. If it doesn't have any? Toss it. Just dump the stuff. You'll be amazed how much crap you are throwing out, and little by little, you'll start to see a difference.

Trust me, I get how the Fear comes over you when you even think of doing one of those chores.. Hell, I get it all the time. I get it when I'm trying to post this very message. Even at this moment, opening some books I need to read sends me into a crying fit, so I don't do it.

But the cleaning? It's something you can do. Just don't look at it all at once. It's like staring at a mountain and forgetting that it can only be climbed one step at a time. Just one step... no matter who you are, or how awesome you may be, everybody has to do it one step at a time. So do that.
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I had a whole closet full of empty boxes, "in case I needed to send something to someone." Like, uh, when do I sned anything in a box to ANYONE! (Never).

I threw them all out on New Years Day this last January.

I started to clean and organize, got as far as organizing and cleaning my closets and lost my "steam" after that. My place is livable, but not very neat. At least it is clean. That is not due to my doing though. Social Services sends a lady once a week for two hours to help me keep my place clean! (Long story how that came about). I'm not complaining though.

FOr me, partially, it is because household chores were used as punishment by my parents. I distain them, as they make me feel like I am being punished, so I don't do them, period. Were it not for my helper, my apartment would be a total disaster!