Inertia of the Soul

Finding ways to resuscitate our deepest desires

Aug 13, 2023

Soul Motivation Seasons Self-Awareness Calling
escalator going down into busy street

Photo by note thanun

Overstimulated. It’s a word we hear quite often, especially in our social media–heavy, technology-obsessed, devices-galore, insta-everything world. It happens to kids and adults alike, and it’s hard to get away from. We can take social media breaks, go on silent retreats, take a vacation, detox, and meditate, but eventually we find ourselves right back in hyper-stimulation mode. But there is another related culprit that is rarely talked about; a place I am currently finding myself more often. And I don’t think I’m alone.

What is that place? Understimulated. My blog application’s spellchecker is underlining this word because it’s technically not even a real word, at least not in a general dictionary. But it most certainly is a phenomenon that affects many, probably without them even realizing it. What is it? As the word implies, it is when one is not stimulated enough. It can show up in the form of boredom, disinterest, being in a “funk,” unmotivated, trapped in monotonous routines, social isolation, and many more.

I think of it as not engaging in enough of something you’re passionate or excited about. As if there is seemingly no outward movement in one’s life. Everything is going along smoothly—minus normal life wear and tear—and you’re grateful for all of God’s blessings, but there is a feeling of lethargy that coats your days. An inertia of the soul, so to speak. We are doing all the things we’re supposed to be doing—paying our bills, going to work, shopping for groceries, working out, taking care of house chores, but there is no vitality. Something feels unstirred, dormant. The unnamable spark is missing.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

~Howard Thurman

Indeed. This is what the world needs. It may sound shallow or self-indulgent, but “coming alive” is the birthright of every human being. It’s what brings out the best in us, a place from which we will do our most important work on this earth. Even Jesus encouraged us to live life to the fullest when he said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Not a lack of joy and contentment, but an abundance of it.

I have found myself in this season many times in my life. There are advantages to it, sure. Time for rest and reflection, minimized drama or toxicity, and relief for the introvert and HSP parts of me. But the disadvantages tend to weigh heavier on my spirit—lack of connection, a feeling of not producing fruit, a downward spiral into negative thought patterns, irritability, and restlessness. It’s like sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight that never takes off.

The nice thing about seasons is knowing they will eventually come to an end.

No season lasts forever. The best we can do in challenging seasons is to find the lessons. What is the season asking of us? What is it trying to birth within us? Feeling understimulated can be an indication that we’re not giving it our all; there is more we could be doing. Or perhaps it’s trying to give us the time to learn a new skill that will be needed for the next season.

What is my understimulation trying to tell me? If I’m being honest, it’s telling me I’m afraid. Still afraid to fully put myself out there, in every way. Afraid to take risks, take initiative, believe in my abilities. Scared to move toward the life that God has called me to, even if I don’t fully know what that looks like. There is a pernicious timidity in me that won’t leave, and it prevents me from boldly stepping into the “fearfully and wonderfully made” daughter of the King that God created me to be (Psalm 139:14).

The solution to feeling understimulated is not to become mindlessly stimulated by anything.

We must take steps to intentionally find the suitable type of stimulation that is good for our overall wellbeing. For some, this may look like picking up a long-lost passion. For others, it’s visiting a place on their bucket list. And still for others, changing careers in order to do something they love or volunteering. We find ways to “come alive.” To resuscitate our soul’s deepest desires back to life.

When we are genuinely stimulated, we naturally gravitate toward doing the things that produce fruit in our lives. We benefit, and the world benefits. Will we still find ourselves overstimulated from time to time? Absolutely. Such is life. But we’ll have enough gusto from engaging in activities that fulfill us to bounce back faster. We are better prepared for the seasons of depletion. And when the time calls for a respite, may we heed the call. After all, even God had to rest on the seventh day.