The picture above is the view from my pillows the other afternoon.
I had been experiencing neck pain all day, and I kept pushing and trying and pushing and trying to get something done. It wasn’t working.
This has tended to be my “default” for decades — there is a part of me that deeply believes that it is somehow noble and a sign of “never giving up” to keep pushing beyond the point that it’s actually helpful.
When my body finally communicated to me in no uncertain terms that it was time to lie down, I quickly began to see what I always eventually see in these situations: My tenacity is no longer helpful at the moment, and it is time to let go of the idea that I can control everything if I just push enough.
What’s interesting is that when I slow down enough to tap into that quieter, more restful energy, and don’t give into more “pushing” for a time, I am informed about the best next action to take.
And it’s almost always a simple action that just feels right. But I need to give myself that chance to tap into it — the opportunity to fill up again.
It is deeply ingrained in our culture to keep pushing. And tenacity, persistence, commitment, are indeed powerful and necessary qualities.
But those qualities sometimes look different than we think they will look. They sometimes look like just lying the heck down. They sometimes look like choosing to quit for the day. They sometimes look like saying no to an opportunity we sense will tax us so we can say yes to an opportunity we value more. (There is a lot of choosing involved in living the lives that feel most authentic and fulfilling to us.)
In case you’re hitting that wall right about now, listed below are a few of the (many) posts related to self-care and not pushing yourself that I’ve written over the years. (It can help to see them in one place!)
Are you stretching or pushing yourself? How to tell the difference.
How to tell if perfectionism is running the show
Pausing is not the same as stopping
Overwhelmed? Step back, then scale back.
Momentum is not always obvious
The difference between self-care and self-indulgence
Radical self-care: when your “normal” has changed
You only ever need to do one thing
Self-care and self-acceptance: when the pause is priceless
And by the way, choosing to “move away from the wall” doesn’t always look like resting. It might look like cleaning out a closet, or going to a movie, or calling a friend, or taking a walk. It’s however you choose to acknowledge that “this is no longer working, and I’m not going to punish myself by trying to bulldoze my way through this wall at this moment.”
It could be that, in the end, you recognize that you can simply walk around the wall. It could be that there is a door, covered in ivy, that you can open to get to the other side. It could be that you need to dismantle the wall, brick by brick, and you need a lot more help that you currently have in order to do that.
But we can’t see the big picture when we’re blind to any idea other than “pushing through.”
How do you know when you’re “hitting the wall” in terms of self-care? What clues you in? How do you give yourself permission to slow down (or stop) when you need it? I’d love to hear from you.
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4 thoughts on “Help for when you’re hitting the wall (a self-care round-up)”
What a great reminder, Jill. I’ve been pushing through getting ready for a short trip and on Sunday finally gave up and took a long nap instead of doing the crazy things I though I “should” do to get ready. I have to remind myself often that it will all be there when I get home and will probably be a lot easier to accomplish.
I love you posts!
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So good to hear from you, Joan! Napping can be such a problem-resolver sometimes (mainly because it can help us relax enough to see there isn’t a problem!). So glad the post was helpful. I hope you have a great trip and that your summer is going well! 🙂
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Has Sullivan gone to cat heaven? Time goes by. I have a cat named Lily, who is little and sweet, except when our tenants’ cat, Lolita, gets too close, when she turns into a monster.
I have had to learn about self-care with a recurrence of thyroid cancer, which is now being successfully treated with immunotherapy after surgery and radiation failed to stop it. I am about to self-publish my novel, begun over 7 years ago. It’s called Take Me with You. The first draft was accomplished in the old Writer’s Circle.
Hope your neck issues resolve. As one of my visualization CD’s says: Thank you, cancer, for teaching me such valuable lessons. You can go now!
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Fredrica, it’s so good to hear from you! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with the recurrence of thyroid cancer. I’m glad to hear that it’s being successfully treated now with immunotherapy — I will be sending you lots of good thoughts for continued healing.
I’m thrilled to hear you’re ready to publish your novel! Yay! So excited for you — please share a link when it’s available!
And yes, we said goodbye to Sullivan last year. (I wrote a post about it here: https://jillwinski.com/2018/12/13/a-fond-farewell-to-a-feline-friend/) We miss him terribly, but Genevieve is wonderful company. I’m glad your Lily is good company for you, too. (A cat’s purr aids in healing, by the way!)
Here’s to continued self-care! So happy to hear from you! ❤
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