Why We Avoid Effort

It can be Especially Hard for us Quiet, Sensitive Humans

The Paradox of Effort

Humans are designed to avoid effort. Paradoxically, the right amount of effort is actually good for us.

We can all agree that the good things in life generally require some degree of effort. In fact, they often they require a great deal of effort. For example, if you’re getting a degree of some sort, it takes years of focused effort (often at the expense of other things) to accomplish your goal. But, the effort is worth it because of what you’ve achieved.

Another example of something that takes effort is living a healthy lifestyle. It takes effort to exercise regularly and to eat a healthy diet. And, it’s worth it, even though it’s much easier to grab something convenient that might not be that good for you. 

What is the right amount of effort?

Most of us have figured out how much effort is the right amount for us in the different areas of our lives. We intuitively know that we want a return on our effort, and we live our lives generally aligning the input and output.

Yet, most of us are also probably guilty of trying to get the biggest dopamine hit with the least amount of effort. An example of this would be having a drink to feel relaxed, or watching a movie to feel excited.

There’s nothing wrong with these low-effort, high-reward situations, unless you lean into them too much and start avoiding effort in parts of your life where it’s needed.

It takes extra effort to go after what you want.

While we’re pretty good at putting in the right amount of effort, one of the places where it’s difficult to make an effort is when effort is optional. For example, you aren’t happy in your job, but going after a new one seems daunting. So, you never do it. 

Typically, the effort here isn’t physical. This is the tricky part. The effort in a situation like this is actually emotional effort in that you have to navigate the various emotions that arise when you think about going after something you really want.

In addition to being designed to generally avoid effort, we also seem to be designed to avoid these tough emotions. If you’ve ever experienced fear or anxiety when you try to go after something big, you know what I mean. Glennon Doyle calls one version of this “scited” – a mix of scared and excited. But, sometimes, you’re just plain scared (without the excited part).

When you're a sensitive person, this is even tougher.

If you’re someone who is quiet, shy, sensitive (insert another similar word in here), these “fear” emotions can be even tougher to get past. That’s because we sensitives feel things so much more intensely. 

We’re willing to put in the effort, as evidenced by the things we’ve accomplished in our lives. But, we seem to get tripped up when something scares us. We tend to freeze, fawn, fight, or take flight more easily.

It can take considerable effort to negotiate the emotions associated with these responses. Unfortunately, we’re not really taught how to do this. We’re bombarded with, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” messages, or “Just Do It.” messages. 

Sensitives might need a more nuanced way.

When this works for others, but doesn’t work for us, we (especially women) tend to blame ourselves. 

We think something is wrong with us. This creates shame within us. And, when we feel shame, we tend to hide, or shrink, or flog ourselves. 

In reality, all this means is that you might need a slightly more nuanced way to negotiate these heightened emotions. Slowing down, noticing, bringing awareness to what’s going on within you can pay big dividends. 

It's totally doable.

It has been a journey for me to even accept that I’m a sensitive person. I think this is because there is a plethora of societal messages that connect sensitivity to being weak. In my corporate career, I knew being perceived as weak would not get me where I wanted to go.

If you’re like me, you may have spent a lifetime going to great lengths to hide any weaknesses – perceived or real. So, for many of us, it’s difficult to admit we’re sensitive and that we might need a little extra support.

That’s why I’ve developed a course to help quiet sensitive humans negotiate these tough emotions so they can go after what they want. I’ll update this page with a link to my course as soon as it’s available. Coming soon!

Why we avoid effort.