Permission for Self-Care

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2019/04/24

Do you struggle with the idea of doing something for yourself?

Maybe even more than that: do you struggle to give yourself permission to rest? Really truly rest – doing nothing?

Messages about Rest

Most of us heard messages in childhood about ourselves and about rest, that are not helpful for a balanced life.

A parent might not say directly in so many words “Get up off your butt and do something useful!” (although some do, especially to teenagers). The subtle messages we received are sometimes so much more powerful because children make their own decisions and deductions from them.

Did you hear things like

❖ Idle hands are the devil’s workshop
❖ An idle mind is the devil’s playground
❖ In my home language, Afrikaans –“Ledigheid is die duiwel se oorkussing” meaning if you do nothing, it gives the devil a chance to brew up plans so you can do his evil work.

What message does that send to children about rest?

I grew up in a home where my dear mom believed “You can only rest once all the work is done.” Something she of course, in turn, learned from her childhood home.

That might have worked 100 years ago, when our lives were dictated by actual daylight, when mailed letters took 6 weeks to reach us, and there was a slowness to life that simply doesn’t exist now.

Now – in what year did you ever have the feeling and satisfaction that all the work was done? The minute we do the grocery shopping, something else needs to go on the list. And the same with every area of our life.

If we believe “I can only rest when all my tasks are done”, we’ll never, ever be able to.

Messages about Worth

Then, there are the messages about ourselves, and our worth. Or said in another way – our worth compared to someone else’s.

Did you hear things like:

❖ It’s better to give than to receive.
❖ Let others stand in the queue before you – it’s rude to jump in first.
❖ Be kind to others.
❖ No-one likes a selfish person. Don’t do anything selfish.

What message do children get about their own worth when they hear this?

That they’re not as important as everyone else. That it’s not okay to receive (whatever it is – love, affection, care, nurturing, money, success).

Put the two together, which happened especially in Christian homes… and we get the distinct feeling (and sneeky subconscious belief) that it’s not okay to rest, and we’re not worth it anyway.

“There’s always something else that needs to be done – can’t rest yet. And anyway – others are more important than me, so I’ll keep “doing” for others. And if I get tired, I’m supposed to ignore that… because idleness is not allowed. And there’s still so much to be done.”

What’s your reaction to this?

A part of me gets angry when I think about that programming.

What bollocks!!

I absolutely know and understand that our parents (and their parents) taught us this way because that was the right way for them. They meant no harm. They were doing the best with what they knew.

We need a different approach

We cannot continue like that. The world needs resourceful people right now. Not tired, grumpy, overrun, overwrought people who can barely put a foot in front of each other.

Plus of course… what we believe, is what we teach.

Do we really want to teach our future generations that they’re not worthy of rest? That they need to operate on one cylinder because they cannot take the time they need to recharge? That they need to “keep going” until the engine burns out and they get so sick that they cannot continue?

Our world has loads of problems. That much is clear, all around us. We need to start doing SUSTAINABLE things. One of them is to work in a balanced, sustainable way. For our own sake, for our health. For our children. For Mother Earth.

✧✧✧ We cannot give from an empty cup. ✧✧✧

It’s only we that can give ourselves that permission. We can’t wait for someone else. “They” will not do it – they’re too busy doing and caring.

If you haven’t done so yet – I’m giving you permission to rest and find sustainable ways to schedule your work and private life.

Especially if your’e a sensitive soul or introvert – self-care (time in nature, solitude, doing nothing, time to think, time to reflect) is essential, not a luxury, and not an optional extra.

But it’s hard to Change!

Yes, we may struggle to start taking that time to rest, because the beliefs in the subconscious mind dictate our behaviour 95% of the time.

A new decision like “I deserve rest and am taking the time I need to recharge” comes from the conscious mind. If we don’t take care of the layers of charge around “rest is bad”, we might find it hard to put it into action. Guilt and shame are powerful motivators to keep doing the “old” thing.

That’s why it’s really important to work through the programming of the past. So that the conscious decision (“I take the rest I need”) can be aligned with what the subconscious allows us.

Tiny Action Step

The first step is always awareness.

What messages did you hear as a child about rest?
Is that sustaining or depleting for you?


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