E is for Ease Up (or Enough is Enough)

Yesterday I wrote about pushing through the walls that tend to appear when we feel like we have failed in some way or when we want to do something but can’t quite find the motivation. Small obstacles often appear to be enormous hurdles and when we can push through the walls or find the energy to jump over the hurdles, we feel better about ourselves. We perk up because we have overcome inertia and completed something, whether it be a run, a blog, reading for school, or our taxes. Clearing our space emotionally and physically can help us feel lighter, freer.

And yet, oftentimes we simply cannot muster the energy to get off the couch or out of bed. We just stare at the pile of dishes, laundry, unfinished writing, our unused running clothes and turn away, overwhelmed or defeated. When external forces combine with our inner critics, doing anything productive can feel overwhelming. The good news is that we can give ourselves a break. We can Ease Up.

Have compassion for yourself. Because we are human, we orient to the negative—it’s how we are wired. It’s what has kept us safe through the millennia–throughout history staying alert, being on guard, being active, always moving have served to help us survive. By orienting to the negative, we are able to outsmart predators and stay alive. But now, we have less need to constantly scan for the dangerous or negative. We can let ourselves Ease Up and focus on the positive or the frivolous or the not negative. We can give ourselves a break.

There was a tweet making the rounds at the beginning of this pandemic, something about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague, the implication being that if we didn’t seize this moment we would be wasting an opportunity to accomplish something great. But here’s the deal. We don’t have to be Shakespeare. It’s enough to just get by until life returns to normal. It is enough to do what is minimally required of us while we just cope with how different life is right now. We are all on high alert, not knowing what to expect, full of uncertainty about so many different aspects of life. That uncertainty is enough. We are enough. We do not have to do more.

We don’t have to push our kids to be productive all day long; we don’t have to take up new hobbies or learn new recipes. It is ok to order take out and let the kids be bored.

Stay home. Stay safe. That’s all that matters. You don’t need to write the next great American novel. Getting by is enough. Ease up.

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