“Want to” vs. “have to.”
This week I’m responding to two more questions! As we move towards 2023, I wish you clarity, courage, and compassion. See you in 2023–Happy New Year!
What kind of self-care is needed when you are fully burned out (physically, mentally, emotionally)? Any motivation tips.
In our culture of “productivity as self-worth,” we’re conditioned to think we always need to be doing something in order to feel valuable or worthy. If we’re not “using our time wisely,” we’re “wasting” it.
We may feel overwhelmed by what we make it mean about ourselves if we do/don’t do something, rather than the task or activity itself.
We can ask ourselves why we think we need/want to do these things in the first place. Is there some extrinsic or intrinsic value we think we’ll receive? What are we making it mean about ourselves? Will it add value to our lives? Do we think we’ll be or feel more valuable or worthy if we do it? To whom?
When we are trying to do all the things to prove our worth to others or even ourselves, we may burn ourselves out in the attempt. We get to decide that we are already 100% worthy. From that place of worthiness, what do we REALLY want to do because it’ll add value to our lives?
Part of self-care is choosing from this place, instead of thinking that we HAVE to do things in order to prove something to others. If we want to show ourselves what’s possible for us by doing the things, that’s also different than trying to prove to others something about ourselves.
How do I maintain healthy habits with mental health fluctuations or when something breaks my routine (i.e. getting sick)?
When we’re sick, allowing ourselves to rest and take care of ourselves without feeling guilty is key. This may sound simple, but because of our societal conditioning, we may feel guilty for resting, even though we’re sick.
I recently had the flu and initially wanted to feel better right away so I could get back to work. But when the next day came, I still felt sick and also disappointed that I wasn’t feeling better yet. I had an expectation that I’d feel better more quickly than I was, and that expectation added some stress on top of being sick. We do this type of thing often—not only do we feel physically bad, but we pile negative emotions about feeling bad on top of that.
Just like allowing emotions to be there without resisting them, when I finally allowed myself to be sick instead of resisting it, and canceled work and other plans, I was able to give my body the rest and care it needed—lots of warm fluids and lots of sleep. Without feeling guilty or like I was missing out on something I was supposed to be doing. And without having expectations that I should feel better right away. What I was supposed to be doing at that time was feeling sick and resting. Even though I wasn’t able to do my usual routines, that was okay because I knew I’d get back to them once I felt better.
Similar to the previous question and response, we may think we’re wasting time because we’re sick and can’t be productive. We may feel guilty or disappointed, like we’re letting others down. What we’re really doing is allowing ourselves to heal and rest, taking care of ourselves. If we tried to do things while we were sick, we’d be letting ourselves down and likely prolonging the sickness by not resting properly. So next time you get sick, what if you allow yourself to be sick and to have it take as long as it takes to feel well again?
In terms of mental health fluctuations, we may be feeling overwhelmed or burnt out because of what we’re thinking about our life and the things we think we’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to acknowledge that we might not be able to do everything we want to do.
Again, it’s an opportunity to look at the things on our list and to ask ourselves why are we doing these things? What are the things we WANT to do instead of the things we think we HAVE to do? And can we ask for help with any of these things?
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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.