My partner and I went for marriage counselling. The counsellor looked at me and said “You’re a hard task master. You’re extremely hard on yourself. I believe you were advised at the beginning to rest everyday. It’s important you start doing that.”
My eldest child is 11. So 11 years ago I was given the advice to rest everyday — put my feet up and close my eyes, even if it was for 5 or 10 minutes. Little did I know then what an important piece of advice that was. It sounded inconsequential, and frankly, I just didn’t have the time to put my feet up. It also didn’t fit in with my personality type, which was to get everything done first and then I could sit down and relax.
At the time I honestly believed I didn’t have time to take a rest. That was the mindset I was in.
I look back now and wish I’d done it differently. I see now all the times I missed out on hanging out with my kids because I just wanted to get things done and then I’d sit down. The truth is, things are never really done, there’s always something to do.
However, the biggest positive effect this simple act has had is on the relationship with my partner.
When you’re hard on yourself, you’re also hard on the people around you.
I looked at my partner, all those years ago, and used to get really mad at him when he’d take himself off for a nap. I was the martyr getting everything done while he put his feet up. Neither one of us were totally right. He should’ve helped out more than he did and I should’ve relaxed more than I did.
We were both at opposite ends of a scale where the balance was meeting in the middle.
I’m happy to say that particular scale has balanced out. He does more than he used to at home and I have a rest every now and then. And this is the clincher: now when I see him resting I no longer feel angry about it because I’m doing it too, so we get on so much better! Simple, yet effective.
These days, I rest whenever I remember to. Some days are really busy and I simply forget or just don’t feel like I need to. It’s not so much that I have to rest every single day. The important thing is to recognise when I get really tired and allow myself a short break to recharge, rather than pushing through it.
The truth is, resting when I require it is being respectful and kind to myself. I give myself the message that I’m there for me, being a good friend to myself, taking responsibility for my own wellbeing. When I do this, the people around me respond in kind, and I am kinder to others. By taking the responsibility of my wellbeing into my own hands I stop blaming other people and situations for the way I feel. I empower myself to make a positive change rather than being disempowered by blame.
See, I told you the advice of resting everyday seemed inconsequential when I first heard it. What I was being taught was one simple step in elevating my self respect, which is actually a big thing with a lot of benefit to myself and the way I relate with others.
Are you a hard task master? Do you recognise how that affects the people around you, and what you expect from them?