“I am not a hero if I deny rest; I am only tired.” ~ Susan McHenry
A former work colleague and I used to have an unspoken contest to see who was the most busy. She would tell me about her rushed morning of going and doing and I would share all the tasks on my own list. I wonder what we thought the most busy of us would “win.” It was as if we derived our self-worth from our to-do lists.
Two different variations of “tired” have taught me that this type of thinking is frivolous. First, the exhaustion of having a newborn baby. Surviving on very little sleep and caring for the entirety of another person’s needs, you are useless if you do not take care of yourself. Second, the bone weariness of clinical depression years before that. Lack of self-care and rest can lead to feeling so overwhelmed and unmovably heavy that you can’t even begin to complete the simplest of actions for yourself or for anyone else.
After these major life lessons, I finally know my limits. I don’t always listen to the first warning bells, but I know enough to eventually recognize the feelings of exhaustion and to give in to them. There comes a time when I need soft hours of quiet. I need to allow my energy to be replenished. As a highly sensitive introvert (HSP and INFJ, to throw some acronyms at ya), I require lots of alone time and space in order to thrive. And I finally know enough about myself to not feel guilty about that.
The current week’s lesson in Brené’s e-course is on cultivating stillness and calm. I totally relate to what Brené writes in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are: “We convince ourselves that if we stay busy and keep moving, reality won’t be able to keep up. So we stay in front of the truth about how tired and scared and confused and overwhelmed we sometimes feel.”
It turns out that stillness does not have to be literal. According to Brené, it’s more about creating a mental clearing and giving ourselves the chance to “feel and think and dream and question.” For me, that breathing space is so necessary.
It reminds me of Sylvia Boorstein’s book, Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. It’s rather counter-cultural to us. It is so important to pause, to breathe, to daydream, don’t you think?