Lately, I’ve totally been stressing out. I’m rushing from one thing to another – work, study, more work, laundry, cook, search for Christmas presents, make time for loved ones. I’m constantly feeling like there isn’t enough time in a day and at night, I keep waking up realising that I’ve been writing blog posts in my dreams.
I’m tired, and the more the tiredness tries to slow me down, through procrastination and becoming easily distracted, the more I insist that I need to stay focussed and push forward.
I know I should rest – I wouldn’t be having such a hard time focussing, otherwise – but it feels so good to be busy! It feels so good to be jumping from one task to another, crossing items off my to-do list and adding more on the bottom. It makes me feel alive, necessary and successful.
But then I get moody. My husband starts to irritate me. His clothes are on the floor and I take that to mean, he expects me to pick them up. He hasn’t emptied the dishwasher like I asked him to and he hasn’t even considered taking out the trash – I assume he expects me to do these things too?
On other days, I would be more understanding of his lack of attention to household chores – he’s busy too after all! But, today, I am irritated, hurt – I’m angry! I barely have enough time to get my own stuff done, he expects me to complete his tasks too?!
My automatic reaction is to attack, “You leave a mess everywhere! Do you think we live in the 1950s?! I’m not your mother!” But, then I look at my own chores – there are two laundry baskets filled with clothes that have been waiting to be folded for a week. I’m not expecting Pete to fold them for me, I just haven’t given myself time to do it.
Am I irritated by Pete’s imperfection or mine? Perhaps, if I allowed myself to rest from time to time, I would have some energy to fold the laundry. Maybe, if I allowed some time for my thoughts to wander, I wouldn’t feel so personally attacked upon seeing he forgot to take the trash out. And maybe, I wouldn’t wake up at night, tired from trying to complete work in my sleep.
To rest is to choose to let go. It’s to trust that everything will be completed in it’s own good time. This includes trusting that some things might not be completed, and that’s okay. It’s not easy to choose to let go, especially when everyone else is so consumed with their own need to be busy and stay busy. Could resting mean that I’m lazy when the rest of the world is apparently working so hard?
The thing is, when we keep fighting the physical symptoms that let us know we need to rest – the tiredness, the difficulty concentrating, the aching muscles, the insomnia – we keep ourselves stuck in this anxious, irritated cycle. We scold ourselves with thoughts of imperfection and feelings of shame, and these experiences spill over into our interactions with others; we find ourselves arguing with them that they haven’t done enough! It’s the times when our own humanity bothers us the most that we become most judgemental towards others, “If only he’d get his shit together”, “She’s so selfish.”
It is true that several of my (and my husband’s) tasks are incomplete in this moment. But I’m going to replace the word “incomplete” with “in process”. We cannot wait until all our tasks are finished to allow ourselves to rest. If we take this approach to resting, we will never relax. We need to find a way to be okay with the “in process” nature of being.
In this moment, I invite you and myself, to recognise that it is safe for us to rest within this process. Things will not fall apart if we let go. We owe it to ourselves to rest, because when we do, we come back with more energy for our challenges and more compassion for ourselves and our loved ones. When we rest we become able to handle the complexity of being “in process”.
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