Once you recognize that you are in a recovery phase–and honestly, who among us hasn’t experienced loss and challenge in these last few years–you will naturally want to do something about that awareness. And what you can focus on doing is being gentle with yourself, and resisting the urge to rush through so that you can ensure a successful recovery.
A hurried recovery only invites the next instance of needing to recover to happen more quickly. And yet that’s likely what you’ll want to do–ok, I’ll recover, but let’s make it quick.
Why are we so often impatient with ourselves?
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Here’s my take:
We have internalized capitalism to the point that if you aren’t producing as fast as you can, you feel like a drag on society.
But if you don’t divert energy away from being productive–and the feeling that you SHOULD be productive–you will only deplete yourself. My wish is for us to normalize being in a state where we need to take things down a notch–especially when we are in this state collectively. Trying to act like there’s nothing wrong and maintain your typical level of productivity is like telling your humanity to scram. It’s not a long-term strategy. Honoring a period of recovery is like calling the pigeons of our soul home.
Anyone in recovery is deserving of gentleness and patience
I understand that being able to scale back on how much you do is a privilege. But often the person is hardest on you is yourself. It’s so natural to think you should be able to do more than you’re able to right now. And to think that you’re a bad person if you can’t do as much as your world needs from you.
For medical workers and educators and essential workers who are already running on fumes with needs only rising–ugh, my heart goes out to you. If you aren’t the asking for help type, now’s the time to change that. Ask your friends and family to support you at home. Ask your leaders to advocate for the changes you need. Feeling isolated is stressful on its own; to the extent that you can, invite others into your experience.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment will help you create more space for patience and gentleness. And that is to identify, what are things that I both don’t enjoy, and aren’t crucial? Make a list of these things that you can let slide. How do you do that exactly? Well, your choices are to minimize them, outsource them, or ignore them. (This categorization technique is something I learned from Laura Vanderkam’s work–Laura is the author of many great time management books, including I Know How She Does It and 168 Hours). That’s the practical part–take some things off your plate. And the intangible part is to do it because you recognize and honor your need for space, because you’re doing the important–and invisible–work of recovering.
Remember, your successful recovery is vital not because the world needs you back out there, all charged up and ready to work. Although that is true–that the world at this juncture needs us all to be charged up and ready to work on the things that have led us to this place that’s requiring a collective period of recovery–your replenishing yourself is vital because you are human, and you require and deserve time to rest, heal. I’m not talking about recovering so that you can get busy again. I’m talking about recovering so that you can feel fully human again–and when you do, you’ll be able to see where your efforts are most needed.