Our modern society is all about going, moving forward, working hard, hustling every chance we get. Anything less than that isn’t doing enough and isn’t spending our time wisely. It’s wasting away the precious gift God grants us with each day and each breath. We should feel guilty about resting…right?
Despite our current pandemic, where many of us are left with much freer schedules, we still feel guilty about resting. Even though these circumstances are unprecedented for us and are uplifting many difficult emotions, there’s still the expectation to do something.
It’s about time to challenge that stringent connection between self-worth and daily productivity. Imagine this as breaking a bad habit. The only way we can remind ourselves to be gentle, to not beat ourselves up for every time we want to relax, is if we consciously combat feeling guilty about resting. What better time than right now to begin?
always a strong work ethic?
We’ve based our society thus far on how productive you can be. The “hustle culture” and being a “boss babe” are what we should aspire to. The more you can do, the better off you’ll be.
This, in turn, leads to feeling guilty about rest. A day you don’t do something feels like a waste. It goes beyond the the need to support ourselves, a fact of life we cannot avoid without overthrowing the whole establishment.
I think we’re called to find balance. Without relying too heavily on the context in which I’m writing this (COVID), I cannot help but notice how all this time in quarantine allows us the opportunity to do things we truly love, that fill us up, that otherwise we wouldn’t have time for.
Do you see a problem here, or is it just me? Why does it take a pandemic for us to pursue the relationships and activities that “normal” levels of productivity don’t allow for? And, at the same time, we feel guilty for resting and taking this time for what it is.
doing? or being?
While we feel guilty for resting, there’s something powerful about not doing anything, even for just a moment. Consider the art of meditation, or prayer, or general stillness. When we allow ourselves the chance to sink deep enough within, there’s a depth we reach that otherwise remains unattainable.
As much as we want to do all the things, most of those things are surface-level. We’re ticking off things on the to-do list, just for that momentary rush of fulfillment and “success.” We work extra long hours for a job or project, just to feel proud that we didn’t take any breaks and we “worked so hard.” It’s not like that’s unhealthy or unrealistic, right?
Everything we do is a distraction from what we can be. We don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to even witness what may linger underneath the surface in fear of what’s there, asking for our attention. Are we scared about that, hence the need for busyness?
overcome guilt with bravery.
As you notice, spirituality serves as a the foundation for the entire experience of life, whether it’s being or doing. Connecting directly with God, intuition, whatever you call it, requires us to be receptive and accepting rather than constantly building up a narrative ourselves.
To make a conversation, we must first listen. Simply sit, observe, and be open. This is where we unlock our spiritual authenticity. The truth lies behind all the wandering thoughts about what we should and should not be doing. There’s so much wisdom within yourself that otherwise stays silent in favor of superficial tasks.
The first and most obvious way to stop feeling guilty about rest is by resting. Very simple. Easier said than done (play on words not intended but appreciated). If it helps, put “being” on your to-do list to consciously prioritize stillness. Start with short periods of time, and then increase as it feels appropriate.
Be realistic with your precious time. For me, I have 2-3 things on my plate for a day, tops. I don’t force myself to do more or feel guilty for what isn’t accomplished. For tasks that you have in your mind as necessary, ask yourself, “Is this really going toward something meaningful and purposeful? Or is this just a task that keeps me at bay over my underlying guilt?”
where value lies.
Don’t get me wrong, this feat isn’t easy. Feeling guilty about rest feels automatic at this point, myself included. I feel like I’m unworthy if I don’t “contribute” in some way. I feel like my day has been wasted if I didn’t feel motivated to do more than exist, which is sometimes the only energy I can muster.
Guess what: that’s okay. We’re basically retraining ourselves to realize our truth. All that we’ve been told and fed equates to productivity as a badge of honor and self-worth. If you’re not putting effort toward something, then you’re wasting space and time. You’re not valuable to the greater machine if your cog isn’t always spinning.
How insane is that? I sit back from my privileged place in quarantine and cannot help but let my mouth drop open. Our economy is capitalistic, but that mentality pervades every aspect of our lives. That must end. Without doing so, we neglect the intrinsic value of all life.
There’s shame around being unemployed. Homeless. Minimum-wage jobs that are now the only jobs keeping society afloat. A 40-hour work week (a feat that was originally noble compared to 12+ hour days in factories) is normalized, despite clear evidence showing that it’s ultimately unsustainable if you actually want a full life.
still feeling guilty about rest?
I wish there was a satisfying answer to wrap a pretty bow on top of this. But this is a systemic problem that we cannot fix overnight. We can only start with ourselves, and if we’re blessed enough to have this self-reflection time, than we must use it.
Society needs an overhaul, and I truly hope this pandemic ensures something big changes. We’ve spent so much time doing all the things to then buy all the things and use all the things, a vicious cycle. That’s destroying our value and the value of all Creation. Your existence is enough. You are enough. Do what you need to for survival, not for approval.
The conversation continues. Coming from an autistic person made clear time and again that I’m not worthy because I don’t work well enough, I will keep fighting. This is a collective force that our dialogue perpetuates. But if even God rests, then so should we.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie
join the soul searchers and receive a weekly newsletter to start your week on a healing note.