by Brian Berry-Berlinski
Live At Choice Starfisher Coach
In the days before I became a father to my adopted children, I had a job that I just loved, but I had some fears about whether I was working enough. I had to prove myself to others that I was indispensable, worthy of being paid to do the work. I believed that if I worked hard enough, I could enjoy rest without feeling guilty. I felt guilty about taking breaks during my work shift, so much that I worked straight through my lunch on a regular basis.
My self-care suffered. As I became more stressed, it got harder to switch my brain out of work mode. I started needing more time in the evenings to unwind before my thoughts could quiet down enough to let me sleep… this led to me not getting enough rest. I became preoccupied with what I thought I would have to get done tomorrow. I would wake up groggy… became more distracted at work. It snowballed into a vicious cycle of spiraling downward.
When I left my job to become a full-time stay at home dad, do you think I stopped worrying about being seen as lazy? No, in fact, I transferred my fears over to my new job: taking care of my kids and our home. I put my own work under scrutiny, criticizing myself for taking too much time with my self-care. I figured that if I got the dishes done, the endless piles of laundry taken care of, and the finances handled, then that was barely being productive enough. If I didn’t finish my chores by the time evening came, I stayed up to do as much as I could before I hit my breaking point and crashed for the night.
I wanted my partner to think I was doing my job, especially since he was working hard many hours, nearly every day in the week. If I didn’t complete what I was supposed to get done, I felt guilty for being lazy. I felt I was not supporting him or my family as much as I should be.
Then my internal fighting became worse. My partner would notice when I didn’t finish the dishes or the laundry. Even though his requests were matter-of-fact and reasonable, I felt defensive. I couldn’t hear him without feeling like I was being personally attacked for not picking up the slack.
One day, I decided I had enough of this vicious cycle that I was putting myself through. After a couple eye opening coaching sessions, I discovered what was behind the unhealthy relationship I had with my work. Once I got to the root cause of my beliefs about what I perceived about not doing enough, not holding up my part of the agreement, I finally realized I could choose to become free of my fears. I released myself from the constricting hold of my self-expectations. It was a unique freedom I had never felt before.
Now I can say I am at peace with my responsibilities. If I don’t do everything that I’m supposed to do, I am okay with it. No longer did I have to have a reason to justify the times when I didn’t complete all my work before the end of the day. As I cultivated more compassion for myself, I noticed I developed more compassion for others for not finishing their work. As a result, my work became more enjoyable for me… it is such a treasure to celebrate this renewed passion for my work. Anyone can have passion for and enjoyment of their professional and domestic work… it is truly a matter of choice.