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!
I constan critic myself for leaving my Only son at divorce tine and accept all the blame everyone gives me. I like to change that as i showed abolities at some other sides of my life like jobs and schievements. I like to change that criyicixm that i Sleays make a wtong devidion sbd alwsys say the wrong thing yo s better message to myself. Maybe i can yse tge srntence if myninner voice is being di sctive ?!!
Almost all famiLy and relatives left me for what i said to hurt them or telling events or Whiske blowing and I am very hurt for it. I like to tell mysrlf since only I know the whole story behibd it I reject their judg and stop telling myself hiw bad ir wrong I am . I replace it with i may have made some misrakes but noone knows the whole story but me. Yes it does hurt that thry all left only one perdon which is me, and I had to be facing separation from a gang of family , however I wish to prove to the most important one , my son , that I am willing to hear him and change for hIm.
“Being “so busy” was code for mattering, significance and worthiness.” .
i WONDER WHETHER WE TOO COULD DARE TO REFORMULATE THAT ANCIENT SCARLET CONCEPT OF SHAME: “SELFISH”?. LIKE A BUCKET WITH EVER WIDENING HOLES. IT INTIMATES CAKE IN OUR NEIGHBOR’S MOUTH IS MORAL WHILE IN OURS, SHAMEFUL. oF COURSE, FROM OUR NEIGHBOR’S PERSPECTIVE SHE TOO MUST FIND NEED IN OTHERS AND GIVE AS WELL.. lITTLE WONDER WE FIND OURSELVES BUSY ON PRINCIPLE AS IF IN AN UNENDING SADISTIC GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS WHERE WE NEVER REST by right..
Thank you for this inspiring post, Yvette. Good to see that your self-care is intact. I have carried a “never good enough” voice since childhood. It seems to come and go, no matter what I have to say. I appreciate that self-care is a powerful response.
Blessings on your solstice, your holiday season, your family, and your coming year.
Well its 9:31 Dec 29 aand I;m wondering if we all meeet today. I’m caring for Mom with aa NEWLY diagnosed CANCER. WITH A RECENT STAYY AT Hospital FOR BOWEL obstruction .. HASSLE WITH 3 DIFFERENT CLINICS/ MEDICCARE APPROVAL -administration ISSUES. I DONT KNOOW HOW PEOPLE DO THIS IF THEY ARE ALONE AND SICK. I’M grateful TO BE ABLEE TO HELP KEEP ON TOP OF THINGS THAT WOULD BE WEEKS DELAYED IF I were NOT CCALLING AHEAD… I WILL LOG ONTO ZOOM AND HOPE WE MEET… ITS A GREAT PLACE TO FIND COMFORT ALBEIT A DISTRACTION FROM MY CONCERNS .. HUGS TO ALL FROM KANSAS
sorryy for the CCap’s . I COULDN’T turn them off