Rolling Resistance

“I conceived it as my task to make difficulties everywhere.”
~Kierkegaard as Climacus
     My tire pressure dash light has been on for about 2 weeks. My gas mileage is awful, my steering is less responsive, and I can’t be sure, but I think I heard my tires crying the other night. All of this is due to the change in temperature here in Kansas: It’s gone from oppressively hot to ridiculously cold. This has caused the air in my tires to huddle together for warmth (kinda), so the tire isn’t as inflated. This has increased the rolling resistance in my tires. In other words, it takes more energy to move my car, because the tires are creating more friction. There’s nothing wrong with my tires, they don’t have a leak or a hole, it’s just a change in weather.

Sometimes, situations in our life change and we begin to notice a decrease in our energy levels. We may have a shorter fuse, get frustrated more easily, or just feel a general sense of malaise. If you start looking for a problem and can’t identify anything, ask someone you trust to help provide additional perspectives/insights. If you still can’t find anything, it may be a psychological form of rolling resistance.

Over time, life tends to shift in different directions. Projects at work start growing, the kids have more extra-curricular activities because they’re older and more involved, pets have to go the vet, the heater goes out in December and the budget was already tight; all kinds of things can happen! One or two of these at a time may not even register as a “difficulty” in our life. Usually, most people can push through 1 or 2 of these. However, if we’re already stretched thin, these relatively easy tasks can begin to create a rolling resistance in our life. It will take more energy than normal to get the laundry done, brush our teeth, or even be with friends. There may not be a clinical depression, but things just seem to take “more”. If you are struggling with the effects of psychological rolling resistance, I have a few recommendations:

  1. Set better boundaries: Cloud and Townsend in their book Boundaries state that if you aren’t free to say “no”, any “yes” you give is contrived. That can mean saying no to really wonderful things, even if we desperately want to do it.
  2. Self-Care: Making sure you have enough in your psychological reserves before you decide to give to someone or something else is crucial.
  3. Be willing to change your mind: Already said yes to something you don’t have time for? Time to swallow your pride, contact someone, and let them know it’s going to take longer than you thought. You may have to tell them it’s not going to happen at all. Apologize for overextending yourself and try to do what you can with what you have.
  4. Accept help: I don’t know why, but this seems to be very difficult for many people. I’ve seen hundreds of people willing to offer their help at a moments notice. Those same people are often reticent to accept help. It could be because they’re worried they’ll “owe” someone. It could be because they believe they’re not worth the help. Truth is, no one is expected to do life alone. Ask for help. If you receive it, be grateful! If you don’t, respect those boundaries, ask someone else, and try something new.
  5. Realize that life is difficult: In the opening quote, Kierkegaard writes about being a difficulty. Many people believe that life is a series of struggles, and all we get to do is pick which struggles we want. Never forget that you are someone else’s struggle…and they’ve picked you on purpose! You are worth the struggle.
Rolling Resistance.
(C) Nathan D. Croy, 2018