Being raised in an environment or household where productivity is tied to your worth can lead to a lot of imbedded trauma that I think a lot of people struggle with. Specifically in immigrant households, there are always lists and lists of responsibilities you are expected and almost entitled to complete, always having to work and do tasks to please your parents even though praising isn’t something you receive very often. This can throw off your body’s reward system making you feel like you constantly have to do more to receive the smallest bit of acknowledgment. Although this feels like the norm and what is expected of you, it can lead to a lot of inner insecurities and trauma that will take a little bit of reconditioning. Me personally, I refuse to let myself take breaks. I always thought that if I overwhelmed myself with a lot of work, I can attain this sense of worthiness that I now realize I can‘t achieve through a to-do list. Being shamed or guilt-tripped for not having accomplished everything on your list of responsibilities can set off our drive to tell ourselves we’re not doing enough, even if we are. Being productive isn’t always about crossing off every single item off of your to-do list or doing every mini chore your parents/care givers assigned...often, it is what you feel like you got out of today. If you got at least one stimulus out of the day, whether that be the feeling of love towards yourself or others, accomplishing a goal for yourself, finishing one task, making mental health a priority, anything that can be semi-rewarding is productive. It may be hard to believe because of the way we are conditioned to believe what productiveness looks like, but it‘s there and it is worth being celebrated. Realizing that your worth and your success and drive as a person has nothing to do with how much you can accomplish in a day.
I also think this is why I personally find it hard to take breaks very often. Even if I am not told to do something or don’t have any task I have to finish, I feel this sense of restlessness like I should be doing something because I am so conditioned to always doing something and always having a responsibility to fulfill. I realize now that this is part of my emotional healing process and I am going to have a sub-conscious stressor telling me to always be doing work and always feel like I’m accomplishing something at the end of each day. But especially during these times in the given pandemic, I know I can’t always achieve what I need on a daily basis, and I remind myself that if I did do nothing today, it doesn’t make me any less of a hard-worker or any less productive. It is okay to take breaks, taking care of your mental health is a priority and is part of being productive. The next time you feel like (or someone makes you feel) you‘re not doing enough or the ‘what did you accomplish today’ remind yourself that if you had at least one rewarding stimulus today, if you chose to do anything except breathe (bare minimum, I know), you were productive. Some days its not easy to run through your to-do list, but realize that if you give yourself that break today, you can end up giving your mind the space to heal to accomplish twice as much the next day.
With that I want to say that as this year starts coming to an end and you start seeing people post about everything they accomplished this year or all the great things they did in 2020, this year was so mentally trying for so many people and it is OKAY if all you did this year was make it out of 2020. It is not easy to be living in a pressuring household, feeling like you need to accomplish every task, and still not feeling good enough or not having the hours in the day to do what you need to do. That being said, I am so proud of whatever you accomplished today, and for this year as a whole (even if the only thing you did was make it through this year) I am so proud of you, and you deserve to rest and award yourself for how much you push yourself and work.
Happy holidays beautiful people, I hope you all stay safe and well!
December 17th 2020