It’s 2011, and I’m burning out.
You’ve got to be a good girl. If you do well, you’ll be worthy of respect, of money… of love. If you’re impressive enough, you’ll earn your place. You’ll prove that you’re a good person.
I try so hard. I try so hard to be enough, to do whatever I can to be a good person. And somehow, I still feel empty inside. Drained. Depleted. Exhausted from carrying this burden for so many years.
What would happen if I just… let go?
You can’t do that. That’s selfish. You are self-centered and immature. You have a responsibility to others and a responsibility to the world. You’re privileged, and it’s irresponsible to squander what you’ve been given. So get over yourself and get back to work.
I can’t. I just can’t anymore. I can’t take the pressure. I can’t take the responsibility. I just can’t. I’m closing my computer. I’m ignoring all my emails. I’m turning off my phone. I’m calling in sick to my day job. I’m curling into a ball. All I’m doing is resting, taking care of myself, and playing video games. ALL DAY.
And all day the next day, too.
And all day the next next day, too.
Now it’s the fourth day. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel rested and replenished. And I’m noticing something strange in my heart. I want to help people. I want to get up off the couch, turn on my computer, reach out, and see how I can be of service. I want to write down the message in my heart, put it in a blog-bottle, and send it out into the inter-ocean to touch others’ hearts.
I rested “selfishly.”
And when I felt fully rested, I wanted to give. I wanted to help. I wanted to work.
For once in my life, I didn’t have to force myself.
Love works best inside-out.
When you try to earn love through your actions, it leaves you feeling hollow, depleted, empty.
When you love yourself by taking good care of yourself, once your heart is full, the love will overflow. You can give from a place of fullness without depleting yourself.
You can give wholeheartedly, because your own needs are met. And that’s when the magic happens.
The kindest thing you can do for others is to be kind to yourself.
Acting “selflessly” out of guilt or obligation is an empty act if your heart isn’t in it. And if your heart isn’t full, your heart can’t be fully in it. The kindest thing you can do for others is to be kind to yourself.
You’ve been told an insidious lie: you’ve been told that you are flawed. You’ve been told that you are not enough as you are, and that you must earn worthiness. You’ve been told that you are tainted with original sin and must be saved. You’ve been told that you must force yourself to be a good person.
I believed that I was inherently lazy and selfish, and that I had to force myself to be useful. The truth that I found inside myself was that what I had labeled “lazy and selfish” was really burned out and depleted. Once my heart was rested and replenished, I discovered my true nature.
I am enough, just as I am right now. I am worthy of love – because of who I am, not because of anything I do or don’t do. I am loved. I am enough.
These words were tattooed on my heart all along. I was just too exhausted and bleary-eyed to read them.
What words are tattooed on your heart? Are you willing to look inside to read them?
Don’t make my mistake – don’t wait until you collapse from the pressure. Give yourself the time and space you need to free yourself from everything. Give yourself the care you need to feel rested and replenished.
Oh, and when I opened my computer again on the fourth day? I had disappointed some people. I had let some people down. I took responsibility for it, I did my best to make amends, and it turned out okay. The voice that said, “You can never rest because if you ever let anyone down, everything will fall apart” turned out to be yet another lie.
My question to you
What would happen if you stopped trying to be good? What’s your true nature, underneath all the masks and the roles and the shoulds and the obligations? Who are you if you let go of striving?
Are you courageous enough to unearth your true nature?
Are you brave enough to rest?