Have I Earned It?


Somehow, in this culture, we have embraced the idea that we should not be engaging in restorative activities until we have “earned” it. Typically, this looks like long hours of work, months with no vacation or denial of some basic need (think sleep, food etc)- to the point our mind and/or body begins to struggle. In fact, it can even be used as a bragging right to admit that you have suffered for some greater cause at the expense of your own needs and wellbeing. I first became aware of this phenomenon while riding the train into New York City. Two executive types were strangely competing to see who had the least amount of sleep, fewest meals consumed and unimaginable piles of paperwork to get through. It seemed so ridiculous to me until I noticed... I have been known to do it too! What a strange phenomenon that people compete to show who is suffering more because they are working harder. It is so common for us to get burned out before making the effort to do some activity or take some break that will allow us to recover our energy. There is some cultural belief that we need to EARN the rest that we so badly need.

I want to challenge this mindset that seems to be encouraged in our constantly driving, always producing culture. It can be a big shift in approach to do those things that are healing for yourself BEFORE you are exhausted or sick or miserable. It may feel “selfish” or “indulgent” but try considering how much more effective you may be at your work, with your family and in your daily activities if you are not needing the time to recover from burn out.

I challenge you to schedule one thing per week for your own rejuvenation. Maybe its a yoga class, or a massage or a movie and dinner. Maybe its treating yourself to a new book or a favorite lunch spot. Whatever it is, try scheduling it ahead of time, and notice how strange it may feel to be taking care of yourself, before the burnout. And then, notice how you spend more time living and less time recovering.

What do you do to rejuvenate? When was the last time you scheduled your recovery time before you were exhausted? Something to think about.......

 Be well!

Jennifer Leonard