Is “Powering Through” Really a Good Thing?
Or are we doing more harm than good?
I’m going to be honest right now. I am struggling. The world is heavy. I am exhausted.
There are times in my life when everything flows easily. My energy level is up, my mind is clear. I feel motivated and successful. This is not one of those times.
When the going gets tough we are often given the advice to just power through it. Just keep on going and it will get better and eventually we’ll get up that mountain.
I don’t know what your mountain looks like but mine slightly resembles Kilimanjaro piled on top of Everest. I feel like if I power up that mountain my legs are going to fall off. I like my legs to stay on my body.
I’ve taken this advice more times than I probably should have. Hunker down, put your head down and plow forward. Just. Keep. Going.
It seems like a good idea but I am exceptionally prone to mental exhaustion. I can handle physical exhaustion all day long. On Sunday, I cried my way through a 375 pound leg press set. It was either cry or pee my pants and I chose to cry. I can do that because the moment I get out of that torture device the pain subsides quickly. Mental exhaustion is a whole other ball game.
The hard part about powering through is it doesn’t allow us to take time that we actually need in order to rest and feel better about the world. Even when I do, this the anxiety that I feel only adds to the mental exhaustion. Yes, relaxing gives me anxiety.
I took three days off from writing last week. It was hard as hell but my brain was too damn tired to even write. There was nothing left in the tank.
I’ve read countless articles about how to power and write through writers block. That seems totally counterproductive to me. I want my words to have energy and when I don’t they feel flat. When I write in “powering through mode” my pieces come out like a overly flat note coming from a rusty tuba. This is not exactly what I want to put out into the world.
Being indoctrinated into the world of powering through has made it almost impossible for me to actually relax.
What’s worse, it has taken a physical toll on me. I have gained 10 pounds. I eat like crap. I never get outdoors anymore. Let’s not even talk about what my house looks like.
I sustained a shoulder injury over the summer and went back to my surgeon because I was experiencing pain. There was nothing wrong with my shoulder, he told me. It was all stressed based. Powering through is causing me physical pain. I sit for hours scrunched up because I can’t even relax my shoulders.
I clearly have a problem. Sucking it up is not going to fix it.
Telling people to power through is destructive. It’s revving the engine of a high quality car into the red and expecting it to be fine. It won’t be fine. Eventually even that power filled machine is going to blow.
We need to cut each other some slack. Ease up. Let it go. More importantly, we need to cut ourselves some slack. Treat ourselves right. Stand up for ourselves and rest.
Next week, I’m swearing off powering through. I’m setting boundaries and sticking to them. Call it self love. Call it self care. Call it whatever the hell you want. I call it taking my life back. Enough is enough.