The Way We're Feeling Has a Name
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Recently I came across an article describing a feeling I've never heard of before: acedia. It's described as an emotion that is uniquely poised to come out of experiences like a global pandemic, lockdown, and quarantine.
As the author puts it, "These conditions generate a strange combination of listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate. Together these make up the paradoxical emotion of acedia."
The way I see it, acedia is more like a mood than an emotion. The difference is that an emotion is more fleeting, whereas a mood sticks around a bit longer. A mood is an emotion with some durability. But why bother naming our moods and emotions at all?
When we can accurately name the emotion or mood we're feeling, we can validate our emotions. That means saying to ourselves, "I'm feeling super bored right now, and that is okay," instead of thinking, "I shouldn't be bored -- I should be grateful for all the things I can do." When done from time to time, changing our thoughts to focus on gratitude can offer needed perspective, but when done reflexively and punitively, it mostly just makes us feel guilty. When we deny our emotions or think we shouldn't feel a certain way, it makes it more uncomfortable to experience them.
There is something extremely validating in knowing that what many of us are experiencing now has been around for centuries. Acedia's age serves to help legitimize it. If people have been experiencing it for this long, it makes sense that it would happen to me as well.
Next time you're experiencing acedia, I hope you're more able to name it, feel it, and move through it.