Finding Permission to Rest Through My Pets

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My habit of valuing myself by productivity made it hard to rest when I needed to.

It wasn’t until I was laid flat by burnout that I started to give a little room to the idea of not being productive. But could I give myself permission to rest?

At first it felt really uncomfortable. My inner critic wouldn’t have it — resting is not productive; it’s self-indulgent. What am I good for if I just sleep?

Even while at home, exhausted, my inner critic would compel me to seek validation of my worthiness through productivity. I found myself listing off the few menial tasks I managed to complete each day. I remember noticing the absurdity of my inner critic trying to demonstrate my worth by the number of chores I’d done.

“See, I was good. Gold star for Jen?”

My own thoughts were preventing me from resting.

But then I noticed my cat and dog resting — and something shifted.

They follow their nature, listen to their bodies, and sleep as much as they need. And I love them all the more for it.

This was the tiny link I needed that helped me give myself permission to rest.

My logical mind stepped it out like this: I am an animal like my cat and dog. A creature of flesh and bone albeit with an overthinking mind. They sleep when they need and don’t make a thing of it. They are lovable after sleeping all day, so maybe I, too, can listen to my body’s need for rest, and have that be okay.

It wasn’t a grand moment of transcendence. Perhaps it’s down-right dorky. But seeing my nature reflected in them helped me give myself permission to have the deep rest I needed. To have it be okay.

Recognizing our nature and reconnecting with the body can be a soothing antidote to the perpetual growth and production society values. This is an ongoing process for me and, as with all things in nature, it’s a matter of balance.

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