Do only feel that you are “working” when it feels like hard work?

At the end of each week I do a “ta-da” list. Often as I reflect on my week, I notice that I often forget to include one to one session with clients as part of my “work” .

I believe that the reason I forget to count these sessions is because sessions with clients (in this case, several pregnant or new families I supported), do not feel like an effort. These sessions do not feel like an effort because I love supporting families. These sessions feel like a magical time out of time, where I’m at my best, holding space for someone whilst their own journey unfolds. During these sessions, I’m in a state of flow. It feels effortless and joyful.

I had an epiphany as I realized this : we live in a culture that equates success with hard work, with effort. The underlying idea is that there has to be some level of strenuousness to the effort for it to be counted as “work”. That we have to flog ourselves to push through unpleasantness for it to count. It is part of the system of education we have grown up in, and of the system that our children are in. A system that equals demanding effort= praiseworthy, and also behind it that whatever is easy has less value.

When I did my antenatal education diploma, I was amazed to discover that I had unconsciously internalized the idea that learning had to be “serious”. As I discovered the science of learning, I realized that mainstream education had it all wrong, and that we learnt much better when having fun. The internalized aspect is so strong that I felt the need to start every single one of my antenatal courses with a disclaimer explaining why I’d make the group do all the work in an interactive, fun way, instead of lecturing them.

The same is true of undoing the misconception that hard work is the only valuable way to achieve something. There is much to say about working within a state of joy, flow and ease. Since I started applying this principle, I have found that not only is my work more joyful, but opportunities seem to flow towards me more easily as well.

I have come to think of it this way: we exist in two extreme states, much like the fight or flight versus rest and relaxation state. We are either closed, rigid and hard, or open, playful and soft.

Magic happens from the second state. There is no room for anything in the closed, hard, rigid state.

Next time you catch yourself in this state, sink into your body and ask yourself how your body feels when you are in that state. Try to soften and open your heart and see what your work feels like from there.


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