Where’s the line between pushing yourself too hard and giving yourself a needed kick in the ass?
Between self-indulgence and allowing yourself a needed rest?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. Or rather, I am in the process of answering them. I do know that compared to most people, I feel wimpy. Weak-willed. Underachieving.
I watch people whose lives are full of activity, responsibility, duty, and I cringe. How? How do they possibly manage it all? Sure, I have responsibilities, but I’ve intentionally limited them for the sake of my mental wellness. Experience has taught me time and time again that if I stretch myself too thin, I’ll pay the price for it.
On the other hand, if I laze around and do nothing, I get depressed.
Hence my conundrum: when to rest, and when to push myself to achieve?
They say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have yet to experience that sort of feeling. Things that I love still require work. My home. My relationships. My writing. All still require some elbow grease, not all of which is enjoyable.
I do think some “work”–time in which we’re exerting real effort–is inevitable. And during that period of exerting effort, I experience some discomfort. I think wistfully of being on the couch with my cat and a cup of tea. These all seem to be features of “work.”
I’ve written in the past about Opposite Action, a technique I’ve found essential to healing from depression. Essentially, we do what we don’t want to do, for a limited period of time, because we find the outcome valuable. And I guess this principle is what I have to return to. Work = Effort + Value. A similar principle would apply to rest: Rest = Lack of Effort + Value. The question is, which do we value more in the moment.
I don’t have to use other people as my barometer for how much I should or shouldn’t be working, how much I should or shouldn’t be resting. It’s about what I value. It goes back to the whole idea of comparison. Comparing ourselves to others usually makes us feel miserable. That’s how I feel when I look at other people’s ratios of work and rest. But I need to just focus on myself and what I value most in each moment. Neither rest nor work is “right” or “wrong.” We just need to be honest with ourselves about which is more valuable in that moment.
Have you experienced conflict over allowing yourself to rest versus forcing yourself to be productive? Where do you draw the line? Share in the comments!
Wishing you peace of mind…☮🌟💙