Working on walking your own path in this life takes time and energy. A lot goes into the necessary mindfulness and positivity required to consciously create your reality. But for all that work, and with all the time and energy invested, you still need to take breaks and pause along the way.
I know some people who seem to only ever have two modes. “On” or asleep. When they are “on” they are energetic, tend to energize others and appear to be utterly reliable, ready for anything that comes their way, and solid. If they are not “on” then they are getting some sleep.
That should be proof right there that nobody can be “on” all the time. Yet who do you tend to most expect to always be “on” and doing their work? You, of course.
In all probability, the person whom you have the highest expectations of is yourself. As such, when you do not meet your own expectations, you tend to come down on yourself pretty hard. Likely far harder than you would come down on someone else.
But the truth is that nobody can be “on” all the time, least of all you.
Why do we need downtime?
Even though you are made of energy, and energy can never be created nor destroyed, the meatsuit that you occupy on this planet needs sustenance to function.
This is not simply about consuming calories and sugar for fuel, it also includes learning new things and expanding the mind as well.
You might have the most spectacular car ever…but as soon as it runs out of fuel, what you have is an expensive paperweight. Fuel is an absolute must for your car’s performance, and that’s true for you as well.
Fuel comes in multiple forms for human beings. Food, rest, information, entertainment, and any other absorption of nutrients or information. These refuel the mind, body, and spirit so that you can continue to work on things that matter to you.
A lot of people, however, are not so good about taking downtime for this purpose.
I used to be like this. In fact, I still can be. Work through lunch. Check email while taking a rest. No stopping because I need to be “on.”
But downtime is a necessity. Why? Because if you are “on” all the time, inevitably you WILL break down.
What does breaking down look like?
This is entirely dependent on the individual. For some people, it’s a sugar or caffeine crash. For others, it’s losing time due to exhaustion. Some people get sick, and in worst-case scenarios get really sick.
Breakdowns can be mental, spiritual, and/or physical. You cease to be able to focus on tasks; you develop a cold or flu; things you love stop being joyful and enjoyable. All of these are matters of breaking down.
A lot of people are bad at taking these as the signs they are that they need to stop being “on” and take downtime. That can be foolish, in part because a slight initial breakdown tends to build to more over time. Today’s exhaustion becomes tomorrow’s cold, which in turn develops into next week’s pneumonia.
To be certain, people breakdown from exposure to other people who are ill, to unexpected life circumstances such as the death of a loved one, or some other environmental factor. But that doesn’t lessen the danger of breaking down from trying to be “on” all the time.
Feeling guilty for not being on
One of the biggest issues that a person employing mindfulness encounters can be a belief that they need to ALWAYS be mindful. Ergo, always “on.”
Because this takes a certain amount of meticulous practice, when you are not “on” you believe you are not succeeding. If you feel that you are not succeeding, that can cause you to feel that you are failing.
So the guilt comes on. Guilt, for the record, is a largely useless emotion.
Why useless? Because guilt does nothing but destroy and assign blame. Blame tends to go hand-in-hand with excuses, which can pile onto the guilt and continue to make you feel bad. As such, you develop negative feelings that do nothing but get in your way and slow growth, development, and being mindful in the first place.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough, guilt tends to cause you to be disinclined to necessary downtime, feeding into the negative loop…and then, before you know it, you’re no longer practicing mindfulness or consciously creating that which you desire to.
How do you deal with guilt and negativity?
You need to be forgiving — mostly of yourself
The first step is to recognize that you cannot and do not need to be “on” all the time. Once you do acknowledge this truth, the next step is to forgive yourself.
When it comes to forgiveness, most people have the greatest difficulty when it comes to forgiving themselves. I’ve been there before. Mistakes I made in my youth, people I inadvertently caused hurt to along the way, opportunities I failed to take — for many of these it took me a long time to forgive myself.
Truth be told, I haven’t entirely forgiven myself. That’s due largely to the matter in need of forgiveness being long buried.
This can be troublesome when a current matter requires forgiveness, but in the process of self-analysis that old matter comes up — for which you also need to forgive yourself. This, too, becomes another issue of circular logic and needs to be handled.
I would like to suggest two things for you to keep in mind.
- The past is passed. Since you cannot undo what you have already done, holding on to guilt, shame, or anything else for which you might need to forgive yourself serves nobody. So you might as well forgive yourself.
- Nobody’s perfect. Congratulations, you are human. As such, you are going to make mistakes, get things wrong, and act in a perfectly imperfect manner. Don’t beat yourself up…forgive yourself.
Acknowledging that you cannot be “on” all the time, nor can anybody else, you can forgive yourself when you are “off.” Further, you need to have downtime for refueling, so don’t take on any guilt when you do this.
Be the best you that you can be
There are enough complications in choosing to walk your own path in life. Guilt and disappointment in yourself for not being “on” all the time do not serve you nor anyone else.
Practice mindfulness as much as you can, but know that there will be times you need to switch off and take breaks and downtime. You are in competition with nobody else, so don’t feel guilty if you are not living up to your own over-zealous expectations.
You may not be “on” all the time, but you are still worthy and deserving of finding, choosing, and walking whatever given path you desire. Keep at it.
Can you see how nobody can be “on” all the time?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and even when you are not “on” all the time.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 31, 2019.