4 Tips to Stop Pushing Yourself and Doing Too Much
“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” ~John De Paola
Do you ever work past the point where you know it’s time to stop? Where your body, heart, and soul are saying, “Ah, enough already,” only you can’t hear them because your mind is pushing you on?
And have you ever pushed to such an extent you become physically and/or mentally sick?
My hand is raised.
Working hard and pushing the boundaries can be stimulating and rewarding; the problem comes when there’s an imbalance for extended periods.
Meditation and silence are increasingly advocated as ways to find balance in today’s hyper-connected, “always on” world. But for those of us with a propensity to work till we drop, there’s more to it.
These four common, though faulty, beliefs get to the heart of why it can seem so hard to stop, rest, and rejuvenate.
Faulty Belief # 1: I have to keep going.
It’s easy to think you have to keep going, when usually, you don’t.
“I have to finish my degree.”
“I have to … ”
“I have to …”
The human mind loves to make plans and stick to them, no matter what. The problem is that our mind thinks these things will strengthen our identity and make us feel good.
This is reinforced by a world focused on achievements, not one that values us for just being.
It’s often easy to just stop or change course. But we don’t; we become rigid.
Dogged determination can be useful, like when writing a book, or even this article; if I stopped every time it got difficult, I’d never finish anything. But sometimes the plan isn’t a good one. Sometimes such determination isn’t healthy or useful.
I spent years thinking the road to “success” and therefore happiness was a college degree. But that’s all it was, a thought, a belief. A rule I’d made for myself that simply wasn’t true.
Who knows if leaving college would have been a less painful route; I just wish I’d seen it as a viable option. Would it have been such a bad thing to get my Masters degree in six years instead of five? Or to not get it at all?
If you’re feeling strung out, ask yourself, do I really want to do this—not just the assignment, but the degree; not just paying the mortgage, but the house.
Take notice of what your gut is saying. Can you feel what the right thing for you is?
And even when there are things you have to do—though really there are very few and they usually involve caring for dependants—they can often be modified so you can reduce your load.
Keep an eye out for long held beliefs and notice how uncomfortable it feels to consider a new tack.
It feels scary to go against what your mind says. Why? Because you don’t know what’s going to happen. But in truth, you never do.
Faulty Belief #2: I’m essential.
No, you’re not.
Handsome, talented, and deeply lovable—yes. But essential—no.
This is a bit embarrassing, but a few years ago if you’d said to me, “You have to come to my party because it won’t be as fun without you,” I would have believed you.
I could have just arrived back from a two-month trans-arctic trek and I’d still have hobbled in on frostbitten toes trying to be funny and charming. Aside from suffering from an extreme case of self-importance, I didn’t want to let people down.
I thought I needed a reason to say “no.” A real reason. Not just, “I feel like writing poetry tonight.” Something big.
“I have the mumps.”
“I’ll be in Fiji.”
But saying no and taking time out isn’t selfish. Putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, especially long-term, doesn’t help anyone. It’s dishonest, it makes you feel resentful, and you miss out on the wonderful things that happen when you rest.
Consider that you’re not as essential as you think you are. Delegate. Get help where you need it.
(This applies in the workplace too.)
Your friends will understand. They want you to look after yourself. And the party/school reunion/church fete you don’t want to go to—everyone will get along just fine without you.
The only thing you’re essential to is you.