Our productivity does not define our worth. As The Nap Ministry’s Tricia Hersey said, “Exhaustion will not create liberation.” How hard you work and how little you rest are not indicators of a life well-lived. They are signs of a desire to perpetuate systems of harm and oppression. Your exhaustion will never liberate you. Chronic exhaustion leads to dis-ease and burnout every single time.
You are not what you do. You are so much more than that. We do not have to define our worth based on our productivity. I feel like this bears repeating as I feel like an important reason for why people don’t value rest is because their worthiness is tied into their doing, not their being. They feel guilty or ashamed when they slow down or rest even when the down time is related to illness from chronic unrest.
A note about guilt:
Guilt arises often when exploring centering rest and care. We are often taught that it is self-indulgent to take care of ourselves. I want to normalize that it is normal for guilt to arise when unplugging from the dominant culture’s mandates on overdoing.
What if guilt is just a cue for you to offer yourself reassurance and validation as you adjust to a new way of life? You deserve care. You deserve rest. You don’t have to achieve anything right now to matter.
What if the guilt that arises when you rest is merely a reminder that you’ve internalized a system that thrives off of people never feeling satisfied or worthy of rest? A system that doesn’t want you to realize all the enough-ness you have infusing your being because then you wouldn’t feel a constant need for overconsumption and overdoing.
What if you allow space for guilt and any other emotions or sensations to be there as you remind yourself that every time you engage in care, it benefits us all?
A superhero of rest and care:
I have noticed much of the narrative in the coverage of Chadwick Boseman’s death on August 28, 2020 from metastatic cancer center on his productivity. People marvel again and again about how much Boseman was able to accomplish while having such a serious condition.
I deeply appreciate Boseman’s creativity and the grace and care he offered his community including the children with cancer he mentioned in this interview. I would be just as appreciative of Boseman if he had centered rest, care, and time with his loved ones during those precious last four years of his life.
And what about all the people with invisible disabilities who cannot accomplish as much during their lifetimes? Are their lives any less valuable? Can they be celebrated also?
What if we truly believed that we don’t have to do, let alone overdo, to matter? What if you believed that not only for yourself but for all beings? What if that was the narrative we were exposed to regularly?
You are worthy exactly as you are. Slow down. Rest. Care. Be. You will be celebrated for all of the ways you offer yourself care. Your care inspires people to offer themselves care. Can you imagine how supportive it would be to live in a world with this type of narrative?
Inquiries about rest, worth, and productivity to reflect on:
*How tired do you have to be to allow yourself time to rest?
*How much do you have to accomplish to feel worthy of rest?
*Who are you when you are not doing?
*How do you want to spend the final years of your life? What if you lived all of your life that way?
*Notice the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise for you when you schedule time for rest. Notice the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise for you when you schedule time for overdoing. What allows for expansion or constriction in the body? What serves you? What uplifts you? What’s sustainable?
You’re a human being, not a human doing. You don’t have to do to matter. You don’t have to consume or achieve anything to matter. You matter so much exactly as you are. You matter just by the sheer virtue of your being. Give yourself permission to rest and be.
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