Is Your Self-Worth Tied a Little Too Tightly to How Busy You Seem?

I have always glazed over when someone answers the casual “how are you?” with a laundry list of how busy they are.

And then I noticed … I am doing that exact thing now during COVID lockdown. Eew.

“Nine hours of zoom meetings endured today!” I heard myself say last Friday – to more than one person – as if it was some badge of honour. Was I hoping they’d see me as Important and Needed? Super Productive? Resilient? Whatever the need was, it was unconscious. And… eeew.

The truth was I was exhausted and depleted and feeling empty, brittle, and dry. Even though a bunch of those hours on zoom had been in meaningful and real conversations, my favorite kind.

What are you learning about your relationship to being busy during this time of lockdown?

I notice I am feeling guilty when I go to get groceries in the middle of the day, even though with limited hours and long lines, that is the best strategy. Or guilty when I move away from my desk in any way during the day. And as an entrepreneur, I don’t even have a boss peering at my metrics!

Time to put the brakes on that. I am feeling like life in lockdown has become one long to-do list with little signs of joy. But am I to-doing the right things for right now? Am I taking care of my stress levels as much as the tasks?

I noticed my Fitbit is showing my resting heart rate slowly increase over the last month…a symptom of sustained stress. It’s still in the low/healthy range but it’s an indication I am more stressed than I am even aware of. True for you too maybe? How could we not be significantly stressed with all we are aware of in the world during this crisis plus my own circumstances layered in.

Even my bike rides for sanity have become stressful as I try to dodge the increasing number of humans spilling outdoors with the warmer weather escaping their cabin fever.

So perhaps all that stress is triggering the fear that I have to get busy or else. Fight or flight. The unconscious loop I have been in.

The opposite of that is a radical notion: that I am worthy and OK no matter how much I do or don’t do. Because the to-do list will be never-ending for as long as I’m breathing. So if I hang my worth on it, it will be the goal never attained.

Perhaps it’s easier to see the truth of this when we look at the children in our lives. Do we want to ever imply that their fundamental worth is directly tied to what they accomplish, what grades they get, who likes them, how smart they appear? Would we tell them when they fail at some test that they have no value at all?

Time to find some space just to be and not produce. Permission to amp up our self-care. It is being demanded of us by our health. So what does a productive day really need to look like under these circumstances? Our stressors are just going to increase as we transition back to business being open again.

How might you incorporate some unproductive play into your day?

How could you give yourself permission to step away from screens?

What really really needs your attention right now?

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