Do you find it hard to slow down?
Rest, slowing down, downtime… Why do we resist it so much?
I don’t know about you, but often, as I think about slowing down, I get bullied by a voice in my head that says: “You aren’t doing enough. Look over there at what so and so is doing. You need to catch up. It’s not a good time to slow down”
And then the old familiar fear follows with a threat: “take a proper break and you might never go back to working ‘hard’, to accomplishing anything, to being on track.”
The cultural conditioning here is intriguing.
We’ve been taught that we have to ‘suffer to be good’, that we need to ‘deserve’ rest (whatever that means). That we need to fear that slowing down for a while might somehow mean slowing down forever. And we’ve been taught that slowing down forever would mean never again producing anything of value.
Is that true?
I’ve learned that these false notions around slowing down are mostly cultural limiting beliefs that are embedded in us from a young age and are reinforced in us throughout almost every stage of our life. And while it’s never easy to reprogram our brains to think differently, we get to practice choosing our own belief system.
With that in mind, when we feel resistance to rest, can we pause and question our assumptions. Can we ask ourselves: Is it true?
If we slow down, listen to our bodies, immerse in replenishment and steep in simple pleasures, will we ever create anything of value again?
Yes. For sure.
If we slow down, listen to our bodies, immerse in replenishment and steep in simple pleasures, will we ever go back to working out of self-betrayal, victimhood and busyness again?
Possibly not. Hopefully not.
After experiencing something different, we might no longer be willing to operate in our old ways again, which is why we subconsciously sabotage rest. What we are really afraid of is what we might find out when we slow down.
But the voice in our head can be so persistent and persuasive: “Maybe it would be a better idea to slow down after you’ve done so and so” – and we know that that moment never comes because there is always ‘one more thing’ we can do to really deserve rest.
It’s important to recognise that the voice that warns us of the consequences of rest, isn’t just irrational; it’s afraid of what might happen if we restore, slow down, replenish. The discoveries we might have about other ways of working, living, being – ones that give far less power over to the inner-micro-manager – and the real change it can lead to.
(pssst. our limbic brain doesn’t like any change, not even a positive one!)
What inspired the topic for this email was my solo-trip to Italy three weeks ago. It was pure pleasure and replenishment. I didn’t plan much. No list of items to cross off, places to visit, things to see… I was longing for something else. I was craving long breakfasts, reading a book at a cafe, a slow meal, sitting at a piazza eating gelato and people-watching and having long conversations with a good friend who joined me for a day.
It made me think about the sweetness of slowing down, and how society at large (hello patriarchy) benefits from us believing that it’s dangerous.
If someone else fears us slowing down, isn’t it a great testament to how potent our rest is, how core and connected to our empowerment?
As we start recognising the voices that try to keep us from changing, and listen to the wisdom of our body instead, that wisdom always offers us something along these lines:
Savour all the pleasure and rest.
Indulge in it.
Replenish yourself in a great book.
Nourish your soul with a cup of hot chocolate.
Daydream. Listen to the rain.
This will serve to enrich you, your experiences and your contribution.
It’s what will allow you to be the most alive, fully expressed, version of you.
It’s what will bring clarity, new ideas, creative energy and inspiration into everything you do.
Because it’s what we do and create out of a spirit of joy and pleasure, more than out of striving, that is of true value.
(~A Rest Manifesto~)
So, what can we do when it’s time for downtime – but we find ourselves struggling internally with giving ourselves permission to slow down or shift our priorities?
We can choose to fall into false busyness, to be run by our inner-micro-manager who fears slowing down – or instead, we can lean into what calls us now: what kind of restoration, replenishment and nourishment does your body, mind and heart crave?
If you’re thirsty for rest, for downtime, for pleasure, drink it all in, and watch how your cup will soon be full again.
And if you need an extra permission slip, know that you’ve certainly got mine.