This, by far, is a huge struggle in many areas of life for me and a lot of other people I know. There are two schools of thought on this:
Suck it up and do it anyways
Whatever task you need to do in order to obtain your goal you must continue to do it regardless of how much you don’t want to do it.
Waking up at 5am for a 5 mile run even though you slept like crap. Or sitting down to write your book and you are feeling completely uninspired or making a salad when you really want some mac ‘n peas…. :-p
The “suck it up and do it anyways” is a method I’m familiar with. My parents weren’t super strict but they didn’t let me do whatever the hell I wanted all the time either. Expectations included getting your homework done before watching TV or using the computer or my room needs to be clean and chores need to be done before hanging out with friends. These are pretty standard expectations. Even though I didn’t WANT to do my homework or clean my room or do my chores I sucked it up and did it anyways and was later awarded for fun. Delaying gratification has never really been a struggle of mine, as I’ve obviously had a lot of practice with it and almost always ended in a positive way.
When I was training for my ultra marathon I also had to do this… run even though I was tired, run even though it wasn’t convenient, keep going even if I’m walking…. Just suck it up and get it done.
The suck it up and do it anyways method has proven to be successful in obtaining goals that I really want to obtain.
BUT I’ve also had some issues with this method. Sometimes it has caused me to run while injured – that didn’t end well (I still struggle with this but have improved) or sometimes it means that I write something and read it later and it was a piece of shit and felt like a waste of time. Sometimes it takes me so long to do something that I might make more of a mess, make more mistakes, and somehow piss other people off because I’m in a mode and a mood…. Does.not.end.well.
This leads me to the other school of thought:
Over the past few years I’ve been working on this new way of knowing and being. After getting injured too many times, after getting into too arguments for no reason, after my anxiety and rigidity left me only feeling frustrated, depressed and not reaching my goals in the way I wanted to, I thought… there has to be another way.
Maybe when I truly, honestly, am so exhausted that sleeping in could be a good thing?
Or when my knee is really hurting, yoga could be better?
Or maybe when I’m feeling low on energy, making some food instead of writing would be helpful?
Or maybe, wearing what I feel like wearing, instead of what I think I should be wearing would feel good?
Or maybe it’s stepping away for a few hours or even a few days from something, because my heart isn’t in the right place?
Before I keep going, you might be saying, “But Stacey NO!! I can’t do that. I’ll end up depressed on the couch for weeks getting nothing done if I honor myself. I will eat myself into oblivion and never go to the gym again. I will become a useless piece of shit because I know at the core that is what I will become……”
I hear you
I feel stuck… I want to honor myself, but I don’t trust this way of being… so I think I’ll just go back to the tried and true method of sucking it up… It works… It’s not the best strategy… but I’m all about what works…..
How can I make the “honor yourself” method work for me? It sounds pretty awesome. Doing what I want, when I want… It’s like this perfect lifestyle that I just don’t think is possible……
Here are some things to work on to experiment with this new method.
Fucking trust yourself
That’s right. The reason you aren’t honoring yourself is because you don’t trust yourself. At your core you fear you will become the person that you despise. Which could be a parent, a sibling, a boss, a toxic friend… whoever…. Know YOU ARE NOT THAT PERSON. And you never will be because you have intention not to be…
1. Trust that your feelings flow and they end. Feelings are like waves and can be super intense but they subside. Sometimes storms last longer than we want but eventually the waves will calm, the sun with rise, and a sense of peace will be restored, but you gotta ride out the waves.
So instead of “suck it up buttercup” and do it anyways… what about riding the waves of the storm?
Fuck, that’s even scarier… you damn right it’s scarier!
2. Know you have support to help you through the storm… Use it. You might be reading this and tell me you literally have no support – I believe you so first step might be working on gaining that support and there are specific things to do for that but I’m not going to get into that now. But for the majority – you have the support. Know they are there and call upon it when needed if the storm is pretty stormy… When you feel held, it’s a bit easier to have confidence in and trust yourself.
3. Practice checking in with yourself and developing a greater sense of self-awareness. You might be surprised how many times you actually want to be productive. Sometimes you wanna go to the store and buy food and do some cooking. Sometimes you want to clean the house or a room in the house. Sometimes you wanna get outside and move. Sometimes you wanna sit down and write your heart out. The problem is when we CONSTANTLY push and push and push and hardly ever honor ourselves… we aren’t in practicing with hearing ourselves and we are so exhausted when we DO tune in you hear, “help me” And you’re like “fuck, I’m a lazy piece of shit. I just wanna binge on Netflix or eat bag of chips.” But really your body it so worn down that it can’t fathom anything else. The emotions have not been felt through and they’re hanging out in the background giving you signs to notice them. If we check in more, you might actually be surprised that your body does want to move, your mind does want to create and your heart does want to love.
If you want to try something new and have a specific goal in mind I do recommend doing a bit of the push through method at first. If you haven’t done something before, then your body and your mind isn’t familiar with it. So I recommend testing yourself and your limits to create some better awareness. So if you’re writing a book for the first time then develop a practice and stay consistent within reason. Be aware of what you learn about yourself. When your practice is down pat, then start being flexible with yourself and tuning in more.. But the initial push in the beginning might provide you with valuable insight like knowing at what point it really IS healthy to step away and when if you push for 10 minutes you get into a flow… just get to know YOU.
If you have very specific goals and deadlines, then pushing through might be the way to go to reach that… but if so I might also recommend if you’re pushing harder in one area of life to work on more flexibility and intuition in another to balance it out.
There is no right or wrong, but I’m encouraging you to play with this if you’re feeling burned out.
It’s an experiment of knowing yourself and sometimes pushing is necessary, but the more aware you become the more you realize that pushing might not always be necessary and will learn to trust that the natural wave will come and go and you’ll be ready for inspiration again in a day or two and you’re still productive without the annoying side effects.
You might have to change some things in your life like letting go of responsibilities in order to allow this new flexible, tuning in nature… but it’s a journey and we can talk about these next steps another time.
I could go more about this topic, but I think this might be a nice place to stop for now. I’d be happy to know what you think in the comments below.