Soul Stealers and Art Therapy: How Being Lethargic Takes its Toll

What is a "soul stealer"?

This is a limited weekly series about “soul stealers”. A soul stealer is something that zaps your energy and dulls your vital spark. It goes against your personal values and does not serve or nurture you. Our week two soul stealer is lethargy. Lethargy is no interest in engaging in the world, and it stagnates personal growth.

Let us examine lethargy more closely.

People need rest when they are sick, overworked, upset and/or tired. Rest is restorative and helps you heal. We need a balance of work, rest and play to be our best selves. Overworking is an issue that does not serve us either. Lethargy is being unmotivated and stuck.

What is wrong with lethargy?

Feeling bored, weary and unmotivated can make us depressed. It may be a signal from our soul that we are not in alignment with our true selves. Lethargy is a signal we need to re-ignite or cultivate interests. Something is not working for us. Lethargic people may simply want a life of ease and comfort. However, life quickly becomes dull when there is no challenge and personal growth. Other people often take on this person's duties, which prevents a sense of accomplishment and impacts people around them. Low self-esteem may result due to a lack of mastery and achievement. When people do not show up in life, they miss out on the beauty in the world and valuable life experiences. A lack of enthusiasm dulls the spirit. Being uninspired creates more lethargy, depression, and aimlessness.

Why is sloth one of the deadly sins?

The original meaning of the word "sin" as noted by the author James Hollis in his book called "A Life of Meaning", came from the sport of archery and meant to miss the mark. It is a nicer meaning than in the bible. An “idle person will suffer hunger” and a “sluggard who doesn’t plow in the autumn, he will seek at harvest and have not”, (Proverbs 19:15 and 20:4). Lethargic people do not get to reap the harvest of their hard work.

Aren’t some people just lazy?

Some people seek comfort and sameness. A lack of ambition may be related to fear of discouragement and disappointment. These individuals just don't engage rather than experiencing negative feelings. This lack of engagement may stem from someone in their life, never being satisfied with what they offered. It can be related to an interpersonal dynamic. Alternatively, people may lack the life skills to engage in things for themselves.

Why is lethargy a soul stealer?

One’s calling is not to be a full-time couch potato. The famous mystic nun, Hildegard Von Bingen said that "our greatest sin in life is drying up". She meant not standing in our truth, speaking up for what is important, being of service to others and growing for our own betterment.

Jungian psychotherapists speak about an acorn inside us that holds our full potential. When we live according to our integrity, authenticity, and wholeness, we clear the path and become our true selves. When nurtured this acorn grows into a mighty oak tree.

A case study.

Jenn (pseudonym) worked in a beauty salon. She spoke about her desire to have her own shop. She confided that the salon she was in did not serve her needs, it was noisy, paid poorly and her clients complained about the location. 10 years came and went and Jenn stayed at the salon. She sought art therapy after a quarrel with her best friend. Jenn was hurt that her friend told her to grow up. She was in her late 40's, didn't have a place of her own to live or ambition. Her friend said she was tired of cleaning up after her. Jenn admitted that she frequently smoked pot and fell asleep on her friend's couch. Jenn was seeking my help because she felt what her friend said about her was true. She didn't know how to get out from under it. She was living an uninspired life. Her choices didn't serve her goals.

Jenn disconnected from her true self. She was depressed and felt trapped. After a few sessions together, I suggested Jenn do a daily art journal. She could use it to write down her thoughts and feelings. She added art to go along with her entry. She initially journaled ways she felt stuck. We discussed adding some days with a few solutions. This was empowering for Jenn. She said she used to love to sing and play guitar. We discussed journaling some of her interests and make plans to do it in her week. Her journal housed her thoughts on what she wanted for her future and ways to achieve it. She loved art journaling. She made small changes in her life. It helped her feel in control of her life.

Lethargy Art Therapy Guelph

"Reaching for the Stars". Pencil crayons, markers on paper. By Heather Caruso

What sets your soul on fire?

Jungian analyst, Clarissa Pinkola Estes stated that whenever you were called a misfit because of your interests, that may be your true calling. She wrote, “if you want to live a normal life, I hope you get over it. Normalcy is the enemy of giftedness”. Your gift can be a variety of things. Think about what you loved doing as a child and what came easy to you? That is where your gift is. It could have been dancing, cooking, art, helping others, gardening, or science. Whatever it was, you need not be a Nobel prize winner to be following your divine path and be standing in your truth. You simply must lean into what makes your heart sing. Embrace your true self, your wholeness and you will answer your calling.

"Does thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that system life is made of." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Heather Caruso is an art therapist at Art Therapy Guelph. She offers both one on one and group art therapy sessions. For more information, contact us today. Click Here.