You Have Permission to Rest

I saw a meme on Facebook that made me think. It was from Sun Gazing and said: You have permission to rest; you don’t have to fix everything; you do not have to make everyone happy. Take care of yourself.

Fine words, but it’s hard to change if you’re one of those people.

I confess I fall into that category and so do most of you. How can you not try to fix something if it’s within your power to do so? How can you ignore someone if you are the one who can make them smile? Is it exhausting? Hell, yes. But there’s a certain satisfaction in doing for others, a high you can’t get anywhere else.

Motivation, however, is different for each of us. When I was six years old my life changed. My little brother died of leukemia. In my child’s mind, I was sure I must have done something wrong and from that day forward I made it my job to take care of everyone, especially my little sister who was a baby. I had to be the best, to make my parents proud, to achieve all I was capable of achieving. As an adult that translated into becoming Mrs. Fix-it, making career choices that involved problem-solving and doing volunteer work that put smiles on peoples’ faces.

The “permission to rest” statement is also interesting. My senior year of college I worked forty hours a week and carried twelve units a semester. That meant I also worked nights. Did my grades suffer? Yup. Did I care? Nope. When my kids came along I had three calendars: one for work, one for family stuff, one for volunteer work. Every minute was filled.

When does it stop? Do early incidents continue to motivate you forever? Or are they at the beginning of a momentum that carries you forward long after the inciting incident occurred?

I still want to fix stuff. I still want to make people happy. I still surround myself with people who are exactly like me. But I admit I am less frantic now. What changed? My children. They were the first to tell me I don’t have to fix everything, that sometimes it’s best if people learn to fix themselves. My husband—the sometimes cynic—also reels me in when I want to say yes to all the volunteer work I’m asked to share. He does it by taking me away. Can’t get involved when I’m living in a moving boat without internet access.

Oddly enough, my kids became fixers. My son fixes companies. My daughter rescues people and animals. But both are more centered than I am. And that’s good.

So, I hereby give you permission to rest. Do what you are compelled to do, but at the end of the day remember to take care of yourself.

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