Big Feedback And Little Feedback

When someone gets hammered with painful (big) feedback, it may become easier for them to implement positive change.  Alternatively, when the feedback is not painful (little) then it can be harder to change.  This article discusses the social dynamics that affect people who are suffering from laziness when a poverty-based crisis occurs.  When there is a strong (perhaps pathological) enablement system, then there is little hope for change.  When the enablement system is weaker or non-existent, then change becomes more possible.  Three different scenarios are examined.

Note:  Each of the following scenarios assumes that the individual is a self-admitted lazy person. For more information on Get Help Get Active’s answer to the question “Who is lazy?” see our FAQ.


  • Big Feedback = painful, present-moment circumstances that can sometimes result from a lazy lifestyle.  For example:  shame, hunger, poverty and homelessness. Big feedback forces a person to focus his attention.
  • Little Feedback = the voice of conscience (or of a friend) reminding a lazy person to use his time productively, in order to avoid a future unhappy outcome.  Little feedback encourages change, but does not force it.

Lazy + Poor + Not Enabled

This scenario is painful, but, in a way, it may end up helping an individual more in the long-run. That may sound cruel, but remember, in this case we are talking about a self-admitted lazy person.  If laziness exists, then it clearly makes sense that it could be a cause of poverty.  As the individual comes face to face with this sort of self-inflicted poverty he is presented with a fairly clear opportunity for insight and self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge alone may not be sufficient to enable a person to transform his bad work ethic into a good work ethic, but it is probably a good starting point.  With no other cards to play the painful lesson of poverty will continue to blare it’s “big” and unavoidable feedback. At least, at this point, it is clear to our friend what kind of steps he needs to take in order to put things right.

Lazy + Poor + Enabled

In the short term, this scenario will not seem as bad as the “not enabled” scenario because there is a quick fix available to alleviate the pain.  The “fix” is the help that comes from the enabler (usually family or government.)  Unfortunately though, the fix blocks the “big” feedback message – which is that the pain of the individual’s poverty has been self-caused.  When a large section of truth is being blocked, then, obviously, it will be harder for someone to make the connection between the cause and effect for his present circumstances.  When the true causes of a painful phenomenon are purposefully overlooked, it becomes very easy for a person to incorrectly assume that minor factors or even non-factors are the actual causes of their suffering.

At this point in the dynamic there will be at least two remaining messages ringing in the head of the suffering individual:

First is the message of their own conscience, reminding them that their poverty has been largely caused by their own sloth.  Unfortunately, by the time that we get to this point, our example person has already been ignoring this voice for a long time.  The true, but “little,” feedback of their own spirit may be difficult for them to pick out from the clamor all of their other thoughts and feelings.

The second type of message encompasses all of the other possible “causes” that have not been put on the do-not-consider list.  These possible causes will, necessarily, be things that are either minor or totally irrelevant – but since they are the only possible causes that our friend is allowing himself to consider, he will have to pick one or more.  At this point one of these minor or irrelevant issue becomes the scapegoat.

Note that the enabler does provide a very real (albeit temporary) pain-block.  The downside is that the person who is being enabled ends up getting a distorted picture of reality drilled into his head.  In turn, that distorted picture, may make it even more difficult for long-term change to be implemented.  By blocking the big feedback and then overlooking the little feedback, a person becomes dependent on his enabler.  This kind of pathological relationship eventually ends as either the enabler becomes unable or unwilling to continue his support – or when the slothful person’s behavior deteriorates in such a way that it requires a sudden and steep increase in support – again, beyond that which the enabler can provide.

Lazy + Rich

Someone in this situation is actually very similar to the previous scenario of being:  Lazy + Poor + Enabled.  In both cases, the natural pain feedback presented to the individual is diluted by a money barrier.  In the case of the wealthy person it is his own money.  In the case of the poor person, it is his enabler’s money.  (Note that we are using the term “money” kind of loosely, in the sense of “resources that can be accessed to work around a poverty-based crisis that is the natural result of laziness.”)

For example, a person who (currently) has some money may decide to stop working and just live off of his savings.  He calculates that he will be able to safely “vacation” for a certain amount of time before looking for work.  In this sense, the vacation will not be what we normally think of as a vacation, but rather an extended period (weeks, months or years) of sloth-based inactivity, during which his resources drain.  (Remember, our example friend has already self-admitted that laziness is an important factor driving his decision making.)  So, in this case, the “big” feedback of “pain due to poverty” is not a present factor – it is merely a looming possibility. There is a air-cushion of money which is being steadily deflated over time.  That cushion protects him from any near term effects of poverty.

At the same time, in this scenario, this kind of person will likely be experiencing a nagging inner voice that warns him against his lack of discipline and lack of self-control. The voice may say something like: “Make hay while the sun shines.”  In any case, for most people, it is much easier to ignore an inner warning against future poverty than it is to ignore the pain of physical deprivation due to present poverty. Thus, we see how the inner voice constitutes an instance of weak or “little” feedback.

A self-disciplined person has the ability to take advantage of the guidance that comes to him through the “little” feedback of the voice in his head reminding him to stay productive.  An un-self-disciplined person will find himself unable to heed the little feedback, and must, instead experience the suffering that comes only through the forcefulness of big feedback.

So how can this help me with my laziness?

One option is to do nothing.  Eventually the “big” feedback system will work its way into your life and force you to change through a series of unavoidable and painful lessons. There will also be many permanent losses along the pathway. Of course, though, you may not reach this point for a long time depending on your particular support and/or enablement system.

Another option is to increase your efforts to listen for the “little” feedback coming from the voice of your conscience.  They say that it becomes easier to hear that inner voice when you start out by first making a commitment to do what it tells you.

Reject offers of help that do not address the true source of your problems – since they may only serve to intensify your sloth and further confuse your understanding of the actual causes of the specific painful outcomes that you are experiencing.

As always, Get Help Get Active extends the offer of confidential, free, personalized encouragement for folks who can admit that they are suffering from laziness.  For more information, see the “New Clients” section on our Connect page.

Laziness hurts.  The politically-correct media has put this whole subject on the do-not-consider list.  But what if they are wrong?  Why not consider it?

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12 Responses to Big Feedback And Little Feedback

  1. Anonymous says:

    It seems like action is an individual choice. But it is really a community choice. This should be an article.

  2. MVNJ says:

    Good article. Ends on a good note too. Bravo.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It sucks to b laZy. I m loosing so much of my life :-(. Why don’t I at least DO things?

  4. Instinctual Drives says:

    Work ideal for a day uunemployed

  5. Habit Rabbit says:

    Who decides? The individual or the community?

  6. Habit Rabbit says:

    Things that are difficult to measure are difficult to improve. For example, think of the case of a person who is wants to loose weight. He has a scale so he can measure his daily progress (or regress.). But suppose that he did not have a scale – or even a mirror. After each day’s “effort” to loose weight, our friend would not have a clear idea whether he was moving in the right direction. That lack-of-feedback might easily leave him in a psychologically vulnerable spot – since there could be a conspiracy of sorts between his desire to free himself from the pain of dieting (on the one hand) and the (somewhat credible) excuse thought – “See! It’s not working anyway, so it’s probably not going to work … So why not just give up?” (on the other hand,)

    • Habit Rabbit says:

      The Sincerity Scale

      Of course though we know that scales are easy enough to purchase, so anyone who wants to work on the goal of loosing weight has the good fortune that a reliable way exists to measure his progress.

      Now, what about the case of character qualities that are NOT so easy to measure? Let’s take the case of Sincerity. Presumably, in our better moments, each of us *wants* to be sincere. But we all find that insincerity seems to creep it’s way back into our lives. (Except for dogs. Dogs are always sincere.)

      In any case, we want to be sincere. And we can see that there are varying levels of sincerity. (The case of the dog vs the human prooves that.). (But even if we did not consider the dog-vs-human case, we can clearly see that gradations exist in our sincerity levels by introspection.).

      Now, wouldn’t it be convenient if there were a daily scale that we could step on to measure our sincerity level? (Come to think of it, I would be afraid to step on it. I m reminded of the case of The Emporer’s New Clothes.)

      For now there is no sincerity scale. Look out though – one might be invented before it’s all over – so you might want to start working on toning up in that area now – before the truth comes out!

      In any case, though, there is a scale that is available today. It is a bit crude in that you don’t get a numerical rating – but it is completely effective in answering the question “Am I getting better or worse – more sincere or less sincere?”

      This crude scale is the scale of introspection. It is free to use – and it is always available. (Although it does take some time to get an accurate reading – sort of like the way that a weight scale will swerve back and forth before it finally lands on a number.) (Now I am thinking of a roulete wheel.)

      The weight scale only takes a few seconds to give an accurate reading. But the introspection scale might take a lot longer. This is especially true for people who have not been using it regularly. You might even have to stare at it for several minutes before it stops shaking. (perhaps stare is the wrong word?). This time- consuming process may even have to be repeated over many separate sessions just to get an answer. In the old days they used to call it “meditation.”

      Anyway – sincerity us certainly a worthwhile goal. Just thoughts about some of the differences between things that are easy to measure and things that are difficult to measure …

      • Habit Rabbit says:

        RSE (reasonable self-exertion) is an example of something that is notoriously difficult to measure. But don’t let that discourage you. Your experience with introspection (from the case of the campaign to improve sincerity) will make it easier to get a good reading in the RSE area.

        Just another thought: There seems to be a sense in which the things that are difficult to measure are things that are more real and more valuable to us as humans. For example – which is more important: Having X amount of money (easy to measure) – or having financial security (hard to measure)?

  7. Dishwasher says:

    Self-Mutilation is Similar to Studying

    Self-mutilation is similar to studying in the sense that both acts cause suffering – but they are dissimilar in that only the studying requires patient and steady thinking (which kind of describes the way in which studying is suffering.). Do college students sometimes self-mutilate in order to remind themselves to study / do homework?

  8. Tiffany says:

    Why Do People Rob Banks?

    It could be a career path. Or it could be an act of desperation. It’s that second path (I think) that interests us today.

    Taking a shortcut. Many criminals are actually pretty smart. Some (not all but some) get to be desperate for cash partly because they don’t like the boredom of working at the jobs that are available.

    Here’s the cycle – laziness leads to poverty leads to desperation leads to the willingness to take a job. But the job is committing a crime. It has a short payoff horizon. There is no need to study or network (a la WSL). So all of your efforts are being “rewarded.”. You don’t have to worry about being turned down by your prospective employer because you are your own boss – an entrepreneur … of sorts. Plus you don’t have to put up with the boredom and demeaning treatment from the boss. (This could make a nice comparison chart). So it’s great for a person with a low frustration tolerance.

    The downside is the shame, regret and possible prison. And it can work out to be an obstacle/stain on future “regular” employment opportunities.

  9. PAL says:

    Graph – showing two feedback loops – but one loop is block-able via self-lies.

  10. PAL says:

    Depiction of Big Feedback vs Little Feedback

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