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“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections—with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds.” ~ Carl Honore
Last week when I wrote about slowing down, I realized that the first person who needed to slow down was me.
With a lot happening on the personal and professional front, I was close to a major burnout and I desperately needed to slow everything down.
I wanted time to stop.
But that isn’t possible, is it?
So then I decided to flow with it, and I took a break in the middle of everything.
Interestingly, this was not the kind of break that I had in mind. But, it turned out to be better than what I was planning.
The Universe and I have a weird relationship.
It doesn’t give me what I ask for. It always gives me something else entirely, and it’s only once I’ve made sense of it that I realize that this is what I needed the most at that point in time.
And isn’t this something that happens with most of us at various points in our lives?
We get what we need the most, in ways that don’t make sense to us.
“What you want isn’t always what you need.” ~ Anonymous
However, with time, people, events, and situations begin to form a complete picture. These are the times when we need to learn some important lessons for our growth.
“Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn your lesson.” ~ Brigitte Nicole
For me, it was time to get in touch with my core, which is aptly summarized in this Hugh Prather quote:
“There is a part of me that wants to write, a part that wants to theorize, a part that wants to sculpt, a part that wants to teach…to force myself into a single role, to decide to be just on thing in life, would kill off large parts of me.”
We are made up of so many parts. Yet, we make the fundamental mistake of fitting them all together into just one.
We are never this or that.
In a true Gestalt sense, we are the sum total of all our parts and we need to nurture them in different ways.
It’s not about doing things. It’s about being yourself in many different ways.
And it was only when I was about to hit my burnout, I got a wake-up call from within that I needed to do certain things for myself so that I could reconnect with certain aspects of my being which were getting pushed aside.
In essence, our exhaustion and burnout are telling us that we need to:
Sometimes we just need to hit the pause button in life—just stop everything that we’re so used to doing, and just be. Those who know me are aware of the fact that I’m big on planning, scheduling, and structuring things, and in an attempt to do that, I had boxed myself in. It was time to break the structure and routine and step out. I paused everything, and I’m so glad I did.
To just pause can be the most powerful thing we can ever do for ourselves.
We are too caught up in trying to please everyone around and just getting exhausted in the end. The only person we need to please is our own selves. No one sent us on this planet with the sole mission of pleasing others. We take it upon ourselves as a mark of our importance and worth, whereas the only person we need to please is our own self who is trying to exist, live, and thrive amidst the chaos.
What’s the point of all this doing, giving, being there if you’re not happy? If you don’t wake up looking forward to the day or if you’re struggling to sleep every night? While life will always be busy throwing challenges at us, it’s up to us to make it purposeful. We need to find our own meaning in our own chaos and we need to do it as joyfully as we can. It’s only when we know what pleases us in every way that we can truly do justice to every other aspect and relationship in our lives.
It’s important to put in motion things and processes that enable us to rest, recharge, and recover. We often associate rest and recovery with only physical health. But what about our mind that keeps on churning, solving problems, battling crises, fighting for our safety? What about our emotions that are constantly running and spilling over in the middle of all this doing? Our mind needs a break too. Sometimes, we need to switch off from everything and let our internal tides settle down.
And then it’s time to take stock of things. It’s time to reset—to assess what’s working for us and what’s not. It’s important to evaluate the ways our thinking, responding, behaving, and even being are not adding any value to our lives and gravitate more toward the ones which brighten us up.
Perhaps, it’s easy to get lost in the everyday chaos and noise and just flow with the tide.
It’s easy to hold onto the comfort of the known and familiar even if it’s sucking the life out of us.
It’s convenient to turn time into an excuse and pretend that we don’t have enough of it and keep ourselves stuck in the “I wish I could,” “I can, but…” and the “I want to, but I can’t” stories.
Eventually, ease, comfort, and convenience run their course. And our own sense of self begins to rot within.
And then we reach a point where we can’t hold onto things anymore because we’ve held onto them so tightly that our hands begin to hurt.
And that’s what burnout is—when parts of us begin to scream out of the pain and anguish of trying to hold on to things too tightly. They want to let go and be free.
Our self wants to break free and breathe.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.” ~ Anonymous