As this year draws to a close, and the winter solstice is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, I find myself reflecting on what it’s like to welcome in the darkest day of the year.
For me, winter is a time of going inward, of hibernating, of slowing down. I find myself journaling more, reading more, staring out the window more, contemplating more. Most significantly, I find myself simply resting more – without thinking that there is something “wrong” with me.
The practice of working with myself, instead of against myself, has been conscious, intentional and effortful.
In the cultures that I grew up in, being exhausted at the end of a long day of work was a badge of honor.
Being “so busy” was code for mattering, significance and worthiness.
Working hard was a virtue.
Overriding inertia was valiant.
While there’s obviously a lot of value in working hard, delaying gratification, being able to tolerate discomfort and putting forth efforts even when we’re tired, it’s also important to rest, to nurture ourselves, to live in self-honoring and self-connected ways.
Undoing decades of self-judgment involved changing how I was talking to myself.
Instead of thinking to myself, “I’ve been so unproductive today,”
I began reminding myself “my drive to overwork is very active today.”
Instead of telling myself, “I am not good enough,”
I started saying, “Wow, my inner critic is very active and talkative today.”
Instead of telling myself that I am “so busy,”
I started reframing this into seeing my life as “full and meaningful.”
Instead of telling myself, “I’m so selfish,”
I began saying, “I’ve given all that I am willing to give today.”
Instead of telling myself, “I don’t have enough time,”
I began reminding myself that “I’ve prioritized what is important to me today, and choose to leave the rest for another time.”
Instead of thinking, “I’m so lazy,”
I began telling myself, “I am tired and am allowed to rest and slow down today.”
Transforming my inner critic, including all of the internalized judgments that I thought I needed to be good and safe in my relationships, into a voice that is more honoring, more gentle, more self-connected and more choiceful has been a complete game-changer for me.
And, as I welcome in the darkest day of the year this week, I find myself relaxing into the beauty of rest, of going inward, of sleep, of hibernation.
If, like me, you could use some permission to stop being so useful to others, so productive in the world, such a “good worker,” here it is: Embrace rest. Be gentle and kind to yourself.
How have you been talking to yourself these days? What inner judgments and criticisms have you been struggling with, and what reframes have you found useful?
I’d love to know, leave a comment below!