Languishing. Lightbulb moment. That’s the feeling. That’s the mood. That’s the word.

I was recently captured by an article published by the New York Times, titled “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing”. This article gives what many of us are feeling at the moment a name, a definition.

A refreshing sensation washed over me when reading this article. As the article states, when we are able to give something we’re feeling a name, we immediately feel a sense of relief.


The article describes “languishing” as the possible dominant emotion for 2021. In 2020 when the pandemic hit, we all reacted differently, with Twos reaching out to others with love, while Sevens kicked it into “securing what they needed for themselves” mode. Fives began researching all there was to know about what was happening. Threes stuck to routines and created novel efficiencies for working, whilst Nines managed the emotions of others, bringing friends and family together for Zoom drinks and quiz nights. Eights rose to the challenge of how to tackle the “new normal”, while Ones organised their lives accordingly. Sixes were anxious and sanitiser became a staple in their lives. Fours honed in on the true meaning of life.

The collective word, however, that defined the emotion that would set in during 2020 was “grief”. For some, this emotion was instant and for others it took a few months to feel these feels. Recognising this as the overarching emotion we all felt in 2020 is powerful, as is recognising the emotion for 2021: languishing.


Sore throat. Covid-19 negative. Headache. Covid-19 negative. Back to feeling somewhat normal. Covid-19 positive. Languished.

Level five, level four, level three, level two, level four and back to adjusted level three. Languished.

2 000 cases. 5 000 cases. 22 000 cases. 17 00 cases. 4 000 cases. 13 000 cases. Languished.

Vaccine, no vaccine, vaccine. Languished.

One step forward, two steps back. Languished.

Languishing is defined as “failing to make progress or be successful.” It seems that no matter the amount of gusto with which we’d decided to tackle 2021, the overwhelming sense of not having control over what is happening in the world and more specifically in South Africa is resulting in many of us languishing.


Similarly to 2020, each Ennea-type languishes in a different way. Interestingly, this is a familiar feeling for type Nines. Nines often don’t realise that they avoid themselves and their feelings; and have a real tendency to languish. Nines, this is a red flag for you – are you numbing even more than usual? Are you finding it hard to stay self-motivated, or do you feel heavier and more exhausted than usual? Recognise that comes from your unconscious need to control anger.

Threes, you might be feeling a deep sense of this emotion, because you feel like you’re chasing your tail all the time. You’re exhausted, and the feeling of dread might be building up exponentially. Acknowledging this feeling as a Three can be incredibly useful and I encourage you to think this feeling through.

Fours are also probably feeling this one deeply and intensely, mentally and physically – like being in a washing machine of emotion. In this regard, Fours tend to almost appreciate melancholic feelings. However, Fours might also begin to feel drained, especially if they’re taking in feelings that don’t even belong to them. It’s important for Fours to become aware that they are introjecting, which means to take on feelings from outside.

Sixes are overwhelmed, but intrigued by the sense of relief in defining what they’re feeling. During this time, Sixes are either still prepping for what could happen and are in “protect mode” or they’re analysing and gathering information about what is happening. Connecting with others if you are languishing as a Six, is so important and will help you see the light once more.

Ones, when faced with languishing, might mistake this feeling to be burnt out. You might be feeling guilty for not being as productive and as efficient as usual. You’re missing the element of control that you so easily exercise under “normal” circumstances. My advice to you is to lie on the couch and chill out. Seriously.

Type Eights might still be in combat mode as they were in 2020 but are probably now feeling vengeful towards Covid-19. Languishing for Eights will be a mental battle. Eights need to be careful not to let this feeling of vengeance overwhelm them.

Fives, now having learnt about languishing, are already down a rabbit hole of definitions, symptoms and fact-checks. As a Five, you might become scattered in your thoughts and behaviour, while your mental activity is amplified. A warning to Fives is to try and avoid going into “Nutty Professor” mode, and to rather recognise how you’re feeling.

Sevens are, perhaps, trying to distract from this feeling, unwilling to accept it as a real thing. Gluttony is an unconscious driver of the Seven, especially when escaping something that feels uncomfortable. Being limited is scary for a Sevens, which can be a result of languishing and missing out on life. Sevens, please be conscious and careful of over-eating, getting lost in Netflix or whatever it is you love to do rather than what you should be doing!

Type Twos, having learned about languishing, are now keenly aware that they want to work towards tackling the languishing of their loved ones head on. They want to protect the feelings of others. However, if you, as a Two, are feeling this feeling be sure to recognise it in yourself, and give yourself as much care and empathy as you would someone else.

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