A couple weeks ago, after a particularly taxing week at work, I picked up a new book on the weekend, and it sucked me in. I couldn’t put it down and there was a voice in my head nagging at me, telling me I had to clean my apartment and take care of… who knows? Take care of things. I chose to respond to that voice with a simple statement, “I give myself permission to spend this entire day reading.” And that’s pretty much what I did. It was glorious.
Last Saturday morning, I woke up at about 7:00 am, aware that I needed to take my dog for a walk. She was making her way out from under the covers for her morning cuddle. We got up, walked, and after I gave her breakfast, I crawled right back into bed and slept until 11:30 am. Something virtually unheard of in my adult life. I gave myself permission.
Being an overachiever comes with many useful benefits: discipline, focus, excellence, leadership, and often recognition for a job well done. And as is the nature of the human condition, it also comes with a shadow side: overworking, and a general inability to be present in the moment. The result is, even when you’re exhausted and craving a day of rest, when the moment presents itself, instead of enjoying it, there’s a voice in your head pushing you to be “productive.”
If you identify as an overachiever, you must learn to recognize that voice as the saboteur of your health and wellbeing. It is not the same voice that gives you your drive toward excellence. It’s a sinister voice that wants you to feel guilty for being human and taking care of yourself.
When you hear that voice pulling you out of the present moment, robbing you of your opportunity to relax, here’s what to do:
Stop. Smile. Take a deep inhale and an audible exhale. Then tell yourself, “I give myself permission to rest.”
Mmmm, there you go. Now you can sink into the couch with a cup of tea and a good book or your current favorite show, and actually enjoy it. Let me know how that feels.