Months ago, once I had decided that I was going to start a blog, I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend Susan. She is a writer herself (check out her amazing blog here) and I knew she would flip. She delivered. She loved the idea and was very supportive, as I knew she would be.
I myself however, was not feeling all that great. I was not inspired, excited and basically the “jumping-up-and-down-happy” that usually follows a great idea. Instead I felt a kind of heaviness in my chest, a kind of sadness. At first I thought that this had to do with letting go of my dream of a crafting business, but I soon realized it had more to do with feeling overwhelmed. Not from the idea, but from the period in my life that preceded that. I had been working so hard for so long, pushed myself so relentlessly, that I was in a state of burnout.
I replied to Susan’s loving, supportive email saying that I was definitely going through with it, but that I also felt I needed time. Time to rest. Time to recharge. Time to leave behind all the struggle, the striving, the effort. I was DONE. Done working so hard, done struggling, done “efforting”. My body once again had to get me to a breakdown to get me to realize that, but there it was: I needed a break. I found a great quote that summed it up for me:
A wonderful truth, right? I thought so too. I felt something deep within me echo: “Yes… not yet”.
A few days later though I noticed I hadn’t gotten a response from Susan yet. And my message didn’t warrant an immediate response, there were no pressing questions or issues presented in that email and we often went weeks without emailing and would continue the conversation on one of our (Google) Hangouts sessions. And yet, here I was checking my email again.
I asked myself. What is this about?
I realized I wanted her to agree with me to give it more weight. As if, somehow, her agreement would give me permission to postpone moving forward with it. “What?! Really?!” “Every fiber in your being tells you that this is a time to relax, to give yourself a break before you dive into this new venture and you still need permission?” “Why?”
Why was it so hard to trust my own impulse, my own wisdom? Wasn’t I the only one who really knew what I had gone through, what it had cost and what I now needed? So why the sudden need for permission? I wanted to dig deeper to see what this was really about.
Here’s what I dug up:
I realized it had to do with the word “relax” and what the word meant to me. In this situation it triggered something that wasn’t at all relaxing. Here I was, about to start a new project and I wanted to relax before it even started? What about working towards your goals?
In “The Gifts of Imperfection” Brené Brown writes about “Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth”. Ouch, that last bit stung. That’s when it hit me:
I had judged relaxation to be worth less.
As in less valuable than work. Without worth. Worthless. I know I am not alone in this. Personally I believe it is because our Western Culture has grown to worship working hard and fetishize powering through. I sure have.
Strange as it may sound, since I haven’t had a job in over a decade, but I never stopped working hard. Working hard is my default setting. I have worked and worked and forced myself to power through on countless occasions and not once have I felt the need for “permission” to do that. The very thought to ask “I’m considering working (even) harder, what do you think?” is ludicrous to me.
To take time to relax felt so counter to my usual response of diving in and powering through that I now felt unsure. That’s why I wanted permission.
Clearly having some screwy notions about the word I believed it was about time I redefined relaxation and embraced it for what it really means. I turned to the dictionary and read:
To make loose, less severe, reduce in intensity. That sounds sensible, healthy and dare I say…productive? Aside from redefining it I decided to reevaluate it, as in: place more value on it.
Work and Relaxation need to be equally valuable
in order to live a balanced life.
I once again felt something within me echo: “Yes, relax”. So I stopped checking my email, not needing a reply anymore. I knew this was the right thing to do for me right now, so I gave myself permission, gave myself what I needed. I was off “honoring the space between no longer and not yet”. In an upcoming post I will share how I did that and got back to myself.
And you? Have you ever felt a need for rest, but told yourself to suck it up and power through? Have you ever had a nagging voice inside you urging you to slow down or do something just for you?
What would you do for yourself if you felt you had permission? I invite you to give it to yourself right now and go do it!
We cannot be ON all the time,
we need time OFF every once in a while.
(There, now you have permission.)
And be sure to let me know what you come up with. I love connecting with you and I am always looking for new inspiration. It may take me a little longer to reply because I am using my newfound permission to enjoy a wonderfully relaxing day at the spa with my mom. 🙂