Skip to Navigation
in the doldrums

Being ‘in the doldrums’ is an apt metaphor for feeling sluggish, inactive and in low spirits.

In the days of sailing ships the expression meant the time spent waiting for a wind to carry the ship forward, when it was becalmed in low-pressure equatorial latitudes (the doldrums). Naturally the crew got bored, and that could be troublesome for the captain who had to occupy them to avoid discontent.

A further problem was uncertainty; there was no way of telling how long it would last; weeks or even months. “In the doldrums” is an apt metaphor, signifying as it does an unwanted shift from progression and forward movement, to lassitude, inactivity and boredom.

There’s also a notion that finding yourself In the doldrums is circumstantial; it’s about where you happen to be on your voyage. In the olden days, journeying from North to South (or in the other direction) meant passing through the doldrums. It was an unavoidable part of any journey, and there are parallels with life.

There are times when we find ourselves becalmed, stuck in a place of boredom and discomfort when, try as we may, we can generate neither energy nor movement in the direction we’d like to go. This often happens following change or disruption, or even after a major project or period of intense work has been successfully completed.

When you are stuck in the doldrums there are a couple of simple points to remember that might be useful:

It is a necessary part of how we adapt to change. Trying to force something to happen is not a good idea; trying to whistle up a wind doesn’t work.

The discomfort is a vital part of it too. Adapting to changed circumstances (like divorce, redundancy, illness)  requires a corresponding psychological change. This is called transition, and if you want to come out of the other side you have to go through it. New beginnings happen after the a period of discomfort and uncertainty.

You can’t avoid the doldrums, nor should you try. Use the time on restoration and maintenance, just as the ancient mariners did when they repaired the rigging and cleaned the ship.

 

What do you think? Share your thoughts...

Latest from the blog

Simple Solutions Are Best

Faced with a dilemma? Here’s how to choose.

Continue reading

How to Show Empathy

What is the difference between empathy and sympathy, and why does on bring us together while the other drives us apart?

It takes Dr Brené Brown just over two minute to explain in this video.

Continue reading

Leadership Relationships

The much-published ideas on leadership have come under scrutiny in a new study which distinguishes truly exceptional leadership from run-of-the mill management-speak. The research, by the Work Foundation, identifies three principles of outstanding leadership coupled with nine themes that exceptional leaders adhere to.
It adds some surprising insights with practical applications.

Continue reading
FREE DOWNLOAD - Get it now.

How to be more Resilient

Get my super-helpful guide '9 Steps to Resilience' absolutely FREE, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Understand the steps to resilience and you can develop the ability to cope with problems and setbacks with less stress and more confidence.
close-link
%d bloggers like this: