In classic Greek Mythology, Sisyphus was a man who was sentenced to spending eternity rolling a heavy rock up a hill, just to see it roll back down and do it all over again. The idea of struggling so much just to end up exactly where you started is a depressing thought, and unfortunately at times a very familiar experience. We all hope that our pain, effort, and sacrifice will result in something bigger and better than what we had prior to that investment of ourselves. We go to school to learn, so that we have more knowledge as a result. You go to law school to become a lawyer, so that you can do meaningful work helping others (and hopefully make a living, have a respected career, etc.). History is filled with examples of people who have dedicated their lives to doing something difficult, seeing some results, and having long-lasting impact on the future (an excellent example). It is not the expending of energy against a significant barrier that is psychologically damaging; it’s when you get nothing in return. It’s when your efforts feel meaningless. Many people have spent their lives fighting against some insurmountable foe. But if that effort has meaning, then the struggle can be energizing at times. However, if that struggle lacks meaningfulness, discouragement and burnout are the result. Many of us have had the experience of working really hard at a job and feeling no passion for what we do. The result typically is a slow draining of your energy and your joy.
If the image of Sisyphus feels sadly familiar to you currently, now is the time to address it. Always remember, Sisyphus may not have had a choice, but you do. You can either stay the course or explore alternate routes. Talking to an objective third party can often give you a new perspective on your situation. On the other hand, choosing to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result will not (which is the definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein).
If you find yourself in that situation right now, don’t wait until the top of the hill. Leave the rock where it is and discover whether there is something else you can do with your energy.
- Ask trusted friends or family members for their perspective on your situation.
- Talk to a licensed therapist or career/life coach to learn ways of shedding burdens and finding a new path.
- Identify whether there is in fact value or benefit in the work you are currently doing. Identifying a purpose for your hard work can make it easier to do.
Don’t sentence yourself to a fate that you would not wish on anyone else. Life looks a lot better when you’re not staring at a boulder all day.
Don’t go it alone. Call LCL today!
Shawn Healy, Ph.D.