How I quit feeling guilty about relaxing
About five years ago, I read a quote that I haven't been able to get out of my head since. I can't remember who said it, it was possibly Marx but haven't been able to find it since. Basically it went something to the tune of this:
If you want to change the world, don't waste time on hobbies like watching TV. To make a difference, you must use all the minutes you have here on earth to make that impact.
There aren't many quotes that I read that have an immediate effect on them, but this was one of them.
Finally, I had found something that validated the intense guilt I felt at spending any time doing something not related to a cause or not helping someone else.
At the time, this was a good thing.
I took it as inspiration, and took it to mean that I was on the right track. It solidified everything in my mind that was completely backwards when it came to me. It validated putting myself behind everything else, putting everything I had into the cause and not saving anything for me. It justified feeling awful about spending time on another activity (watching a film, reading a book which wasn't related to a world issue) and I didn't really have any hobbies.
Years later, after working through my issues with relaxing and taking time for me, I wish I hadn't read the fucking quote.
All it did was keep me between a rock and a hard place, and was an effective torture stick I could use on myself at anytime.
The reality of the situation was this: I would put 180% in, to get burnt out, binge watch TV and eat ice-cream for a couple of weeks feeling exhausted and get back out there.
And of course, I'd feel guilty.
[Tweet "Now, I embrace the word selfish. I know there are worlds apart between giving everything you have and saving some for yourself. And I know that that's okay."]
I took a long time to put the work in to change my frame of mind. And I don't think I ever would have got there had I not completely burnt out and become mentally ill.
I now actively push away from that quote I learned years ago, knowing that if I'm feeling good on a soul level, if I'm filling myself with joy, then the work I do is going to come from a better place, the interactions I have with people will be more positive and I'll be well.
I now have lots of things I love doing, which I do simply because they fill me up with joy.
I do things for fun's sake. Of course, I still care about changing things, but not in the same way. Not in the all-consuming, all-powerful, all harmful way that I did before.
Now, I hope my work sends out a beacon of hope to people who were right where I was. Feeling guilty about spending time on themselves, continually beating themselves up and not seeing the value in downtime.
It's a long process, but it's the best journey I've been on.
Now, I can treat myself with compassion, celebrate the shit out my small wins instead, and have a shitload of fun while putting good shit out into the world.
And, isn't that what it's all about?
Remember, it's not selfish to look after yourself, or do things purely because they make you happy.
What can you do today to stave off the guilt and actually start enjoying your downtime?