When Your Heart’s Not in It


It’s usually hard to do something when your heart is not in it. Of course, it depends on what the task or situation is and how important it is to you and the duration of time involved. Every day, people manage to be with someone or do things or participate in something that they don’t particularly care for, whether it’s inconsequential or something important. We do the best we can to meet our obligations.

When it comes to responsibilities to self or to each other or to a job or business or anything connected to our safety and security, and our heart is just not in it, well the stakes get higher. It can be more complicated. Other people will likely be involved and our well-being may be affected. We’re talking about circumstances like:

  • Putting up with an unhappy relationship because you feel responsible
  • Working at an unsatisfying job because it pays the bills
  • Cooking dinner every night because you’re the mother
  • Exercising at the gym because it’s paid for, but you dread it
  • Completing any obligation that feels like a huge burden

It may feel like a noble thing to do or a sacrifice you’re willing to make when you consistently fulfill obligations that you cannot stand. In the end, if you do feel good about it and proud and happy, then keep it up because your heart is engaged in some way even if it’s not obvious to you.

Whatever approach you take, be honest about it. Life gives us clues and looking at what’s going on with an intention to know the truth will bring you closer to what your heart wants. We all usually know when a relationship is one-sided or brings out the worse in us rather than the best. If it’s a job, maybe you’re good at it, but there’s no challenge left or your creativity feels stifled. Or, it could be that whatever it is, you find it too hard to do or painful. Honesty really is the best policy here because we can’t really make any effective changes if we’re denying the reality and the truth.

Sometimes it’s necessary to accept what the situation is, because of other factors. The problem is that when your heart is not in it, anger and resentment and feeling unappreciated can build up. When this happens, it can be helpful to get a fresh perspective.

  • Focus on how you’re serving others and yourself
  • Notice your purpose and the greater purpose
  • Appreciate yourself for the difference you make
  • Continue to envision a better scenario
  • Make a plan to move beyond the status quo

If this doesn’t do it for you, then greater attention is warranted. After all, when your heart’s not in it, then you’re suffering in some way and that can’t be a good thing unless you really like being a martyr. Keeping yourself locked in a relationship or in a career or situation that is causing you to suffer shows a lack of self-love. And, we are talking about the heart here so if there’s a lack of self-love, self-care or self-appreciation, then loving change of some nature is called for. Take some time to ponder and evaluate and acknowledge the reality of the situation or relationship. Love yourself enough to reach out and get some help, embracing the change that makes your heart sing.

© Deborah A. Lindholm


  1. Russ says:

    Wise words

  2. JUK says:

    My goodness, I really needed to hear that. I work as a dentist and after 10 years of dentistry, I have disc degeneration in my lower back and sciatica. My heart has not really been in it from the start, but I have persevered because of initially not wanting to let all the training by the wayside, having the aim of getting really good at dentistry, and then later for financial reasons, as a year taken out to rest my back blew all my savings.

    I have been reasonably comfortable in my current job, now in my 4th year. However the physical challenge is now met with an emotional challenge, as very often I’m treating young children who just aren’t interested. It is not satisfying or rewarding at all, especially when you consider that all this effort is being launched at teeth which are eventually going to fall out. I’m just not built for this, and it is a step in the right direction to recognise that.

    However, what you wrote, “if you do feel good about it and proud and happy, then keep it up because your heart is engaged in some way even if it’s not obvious to you” really struck a chord. I also treat a large number of patients with special needs, and even though there is little I can often do in the way of dentistry, I am able to give support to the parents, advise on alternative services, make referrals to people who can offer further support, and over time I’ve seen people’s social circumstances improve. So my heart is in this aspect of my work, and I do feel like I add value there. I think your article has helped me to see that, and to help me to cope. Until I logged on and saw your article, I was dragged down in the negativity of feeling overwhelmed, angry, abused by my work and desperate to get out. Now, I can focus on the positive – I actually see one! – and that has completely changed how I feel on the inside.

    I have no idea what my next step will be. But I know what I will be doing in the meantime:

    Focus on how you’re serving others and yourself
    Notice your purpose and the greater purpose
    Appreciate yourself for the difference you make
    Continue to envision a better scenario
    Make a plan to move beyond the status quo

    Yes yes and yes. Thank you and God bless you for sharing this advice, it really is spot on.

    Jas x

  3. Christina says:

    I really needed to read this now! Thank you!

  4. Deborah says:

    You’re welcome, Christina. So glad that the article was helpful and timely.

  5. Andy says:

    A wonderful piece of work here. May I add??

    I am currently in this situation but is work related. A lot of people go through this when they truly care about themselves and others or they find themselves doing something that deeply inside does very little for them. The only way to truly extinguish this negative feeling is to make changes but in order to make these changes you must find yourself and do what you love doing and do it with soul.

    Don’t live your life trying to achieve higher than the next person. Live it within the direction and goals you set yourself, set high and achieve high. Don’t live up to someone else, find a path that allows you to develop yourself and to live a life worth living either through career, love or time you spend on your own. I believe all of these aspects must be met for you to truly love yourself and who you are and for you to be your best.

    Don’t be dishonest, always make others feel good about themselves, support them through direction but also embrace creativity and allow each and every one to be individuals.

    Unless you focus your mind following in the footsteps of others how can you ever be yourself?

    And remember, conciseness is now limitless and neither is health. So many people have wasted their life doing something that doesn’t expand their creativity and love and some after it is too late. Look up to the people who have an aura of positivity.

    And remember, sometimes making difficult choices or choices that might otherwise come across as quite insane may, in the short term, be of worry but often and from experience when you have to fight for something, that is when you truly do achieve.



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