195. The cost of ‘earning’ your rest

A major hurdle that many of us moms to rest is the underlying belief that we need to ‘earn our rest’. In this episode, Professional Counsellor and mom of three unpacks how this belief impacts our abilities to rest well, our relationships and our coping habits. 



This episode is in follow-up to Episode 194. I stopped calling myself a lazy mom 

In this episode, we discuss topics such as:

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Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend counselor from simple on purpose.ca. Welcome to the simple and purpose podcast.

So if you’re new here, welcome. I am Shawna, I am a mom of three kids in Canada, I am a counselor. And my aim is to equip you with tools and ideas and insights that help you live more simply and more intentionally, in all the areas of your life.

So this episode is a follow up to the last episode where I was unpacking that concept of asking yourself in moments where you are finding yourself with a desire to relax, am I being lazy? Or am I overwhelmed, because when we can differentiate between the two, we can handle it accordingly.

When we’re overwhelmed, we’ve maxed out we’ve reached capacity. And I’ve talked about that window of tolerance. That’s that range where we feel a sense of resource and ability to deal well with the day in all its demands. being overwhelmed takes us out of that window of tolerance. And we have this dilemma of actually being worn out and needing rest. But then that voice comes in that says, if you’re resting, you’re lazy, you should be doing this or that.

So in that moment, we have a choice, we can be lazy, or we can go and get more things done. One leads to guilt fueled pseudo arrest, the other leads to even more burnout.

A concept I’ve shared over the years is the concept of opportunity cost. And that is the acknowledgement that when we say yes to one thing, we say no to the other, and vice versa.

For example, if I say yes to a day of work, and all that comes with it, career advancement, maybe job satisfaction, a wage, etc, then I say no to maybe being a stay at home, parent, and all the stuff that would happen then if I was a stay at home parents, someone’s there to do chores, make meals, childcare, whatever, vice versa, there’s no wrong choice. I’m just saying these simple choices, we are weighing against our own values and goals have a cost on either side.

But as moms when it comes to the opportunity cost of rest. We live in a culture where we have put ourselves into the transaction.

We tell ourselves this math, if I say no to me, resting, I say yes to getting more stuff done. And since I live in a culture where busy is glorified, I should choose that. Or vice versa. If I say no to getting stuff done, I’m saying yes to me being a lazy mum. And since I live in a culture where being lazy is at worst a sin, or at least tacky or undignified. This is a generalization I’m making.

What is that going to lead us to in the decision we need to make there? Right? If the opportunity costs of me resting versus me doing always points towards one culturally acceptable choice? What are we going to be doing? We’re going to be saying no to ourselves, and yes to the expectations of ourselves to do more.

And those expectations feel necessary, don’t they? The expectations we have on ourselves as mom, it’s something that I talked about in a past episode, I’ll make sure to link it in the show notes. All in all, bad math, it’s costing us either way you spin it, it costs us, the person, the woman, the mom who’s denying herself rest.

So in order to reconcile the transaction, do we rest? Or do we do, we turn it into this formula, where we justify the choice with the criteria of ruining rest.

In working with mums, I feel like this isn’t a conscious formula. Like if I fold a basket of laundry, I give myself permission to read my book for 20 minutes. It’s more of a subconscious rule. We’ve adopted like a core belief that rest must be earned through working hard.

And there’s this framework we have are not too clear, though, on how to apply this logic, how to measure it and who decides the measurement? And how do we know when we’ve reached it? How do we know and we worked hard enough to earn that rest. You don’t really have that criteria is kind of vague.

But we’re applying the concept nonetheless, which I think can and did, for me at least translate into us becoming martyrs. Sometimes, if you’ve read my post about being a martyr, it’s one of the most read posts ever, I’m going to link that in the show notes. Because we might find ourselves in a situation where we need to prove our hard work to others in order for them to give us permission to rest. We can’t draw a line in the sand and tell ourselves well done self, you can rest and now we are looking to others to do it. It’s not their job, but we are looking to them to do it.

We are looking for that external validation. Someone needs to tell me I’ve earned this rest. And oh, if I’m an especially good murderer and a very hard worker, then they have to force me to rest. And I’m not going to do a good job of it. I’m going to still find a way to be productive while I rest.

It does create a whole other problem doesn’t it if it sets up this unhelpful dynamic and is in a relationship where we need that external validation.

So from this underlying rule that we might be living with that we need to earn rest, we have some outcomes. First, we aren’t too clear on how to apply it. So We look to others to apply it for us. And in order to do that, we need their validation. So now we need to express our experience to them, show them the evidence be the martyr. So then they have the information they need in order to validate us, oh, you should go rest. Now, that creates an unhelpful dynamic in any relationship. And we still haven’t actually rested.

How do you feel when you are not well rested? Not awesome, right? Like, that woman you missing out on rest and nourishment and restoration, she’s not feeling great. And when we don’t feel good, we start to think of ways we can just feel better.

We might not even be aware of it. But we might find ourselves reaching for the phone, or calling someone up to gossip or online shopping, just whatever feels better than how we’re feeling now. So from this whole system, we create another layer of problems where we have what I call the escape hatch, the escape hatch, those things we do some kind of secret indulgence that we turn to as a way to deal with how we’re feeling. And we’re not feeling great, because we’ve deprived ourselves of meeting our needs. Plus, we’re looking for this external validation Plus, we’re worn out, it’s just kind of like murky waters we’re swimming in and that escape hatch, that guilty pleasure, it’s different than coping like coping is going to help improve our lives, improve our situation.

But the escape hatch, it often costs us something in the long run, like these little ways, we’re trying to just get some enjoyment, scrolling on the phone heading to the pantry, alcohol, online, shopping all of it, it’s might not make our lives better in the long run and decrease a secondary problem, that now we want to change those habits.

The other month, I shared a story on Instagram that was so well loved. Code, lots of you press the little heart icon when you saw it. And it said this, I’m going to quote it. Instead of asking, have I worked hard enough to deserve rest? I’ve started asking, have I rested enough to do my most loving and meaningful work? That’s Nicola Jean Hobbs.

Because we do have it backwards, don’t we, if we think we need to work so hard exhaust ourselves to the point of being a husk of a person, and then we can rest we’ve got it backwards.

I know, as I say this, I’m just another voice on the internet telling moms they should rest. I mean, I have a whole series on this called meeting your needs. But if I could just offer you one mindset shift today, it would be to let go of the notion that rest has to be earned. And it’s probably one of the stickier harder ones to let go of, because it feels necessary. Even worse, it feels noble, it feels noble. So that threatens our personal sense of integrity to live in opposition to this made up rule.

But the rule doesn’t feel made up. Like let’s acknowledge that because it’s probably how we were raised, or how we learn to raise ourselves to meet the culture around us.

There’s another issue that I wanted to share that I find interesting, and that is with clients who have the experience where they’re so productive, getting all the things done, and then they hit a wall and crash. And to them, they use this as evidence that they have failed, they feel they should not have hit a wall. If they were doing it right, they would have maintained that level of productivity.

And in the most loving way possible. This is not the problem we need to solve. It’s not a problem that you’ve expended so much energy now you need to recover. I mean, it makes sense. It’s like the facts like if you drain the battery without recharging it, it’s going to run out.

What I see is more of the problem is that we expect ourselves to operate in that perpetual state of productivity. It’s a problem that we don’t allow ourselves smaller doses of rest, and then beat ourselves up when we do take a lot more recovery time. And it is interesting to explore why we expect to set yourself the mentality that we should be able to do it all without ever resting is how we ensure we’re keeping up the energy to meet that expectation that we need to earn rest. They’re all tied together.

From this conversation, I want you to take away permission to challenge the idea that you need to earn your rest. Rest is not a reward, especially not one with such vague or externally sourced criteria to achieve. And just the way we look at our kids and we know they need rest and we encourage their rest. We need rest too. In fact, when we rest we do better work like after a good night’s sleep. Don’t you feel so much more capacity for your life?

I mean, you wouldn’t take your phone out for a whole weekend without charging it first. Okay, well maybe would like the battery monitor of my friend group and if I see that their phones are like below 80% I’m gonna say plug your phone in. I guess we all have this different window of tolerance when it comes to our phone battery.

But the metaphor is solid guys. If we knew we needed a tool for a long period of time, we would make sure that tools charged or we would have to face the reality that we’re gonna have to stop and charge it when it dies mid project like that. It’s just facts, we don’t have to get all emotional about it and it’s not charged. Now we need to charge it.

If you are challenged with the idea of resting, I encourage you to listen to the meet your needs series. In that series, I talk about how our culture and our upbringing influence how we as moms, meet our needs or don’t meet our needs. I talk about the difference between self comfort and self care, which is the reason we don’t rest well, right. We’re just comforting ourselves instead of actually caring and restoring ourselves. And I go through meeting each of the basic needs and share how I learned how to take care of that part of me and talk about eating, moving, sleeping, and our emotions.

So Christmas break is coming, winter break is coming for us. I hope you find some ways to give yourself permission to rest. I hope that you maybe do a little test for yourself and see what happens if I do a little bit more resting, maybe I can do a little bit more work. If I’m well rested, maybe I can show up better. Instead of doing the opposite, like try out an experiment, see what happens.

As usual, I have stack the shownotes with a lot of links that I hope will be helpful for you. It expands on different concepts we’ve talked about here, stop by the show notes and check them out. And if you can’t find the show notes, simple go to simple on purpose.ca. Click Listen, all of the episodes are there. And in each episode post you will find the show notes, links and at the bottom of each post you’ll find a transcript if you prefer to read things on but I don’t edit it. So there are some spelling mistakes or, or weird words situations that are put in there but you’ll figure it out.

And all in all, I encourage you to sign up for the simple Saturday’s email. That’s where you get updates about what’s happening at simple on purpose. And I have exciting plans for the new year in the email squad is going to get access to that first stop by the show notes. That is a biweekly email from me. It’s called your virtual coffee date with your nerdy girlfriend. That’s what the listeners have named it. And I just love to spend that time with you and check in with you every two weeks and send some little nuggets and behind the scenes to your inbox. All right friends, have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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