There is a HUGE need in our culture to be -or to seem to be- in a constant state of achieving.
Have you ever found yourself noticing how intensely we’re taught – via the media, social media, and as a collective – to measure our self worth by what we do vs. simply by who we are? These messages are everywhere. Even in the spiritual and wellness worlds, perfectionism is going strong. (i.e. the term ‘working on yourself’ assumes fixing is needed.)
I can’t help but wonder: when did we all become desensitized to hustling? If you’re reading this, maybe you’ve thought about this, too.
One of my practices is to try to catch myself when I feel strained. I almost always find that underneath the feeling of being strained is a subtle measuring – sometimes very subtle- that I can feel in my whole body – a measuring of who I am, what I’m doing and how well I’m doing it.
The pressure is real, y’all. And it goes by the name (drumroll please….) the productivity wound.
The productivity wound results from a mindset of toxic productivity, which is deeply ingrained in our culture and ancestry. So, even if we’re doing all the self help things like listening to podcasts on surrender or reading books on conscious breathing we can still get stuck in toxic patterns of inner measuring (until we’ve had a paradigm shift but I’ll get to that in a minute!).
It boils down to self worth. When we’re operating within this paradigm we’re living and acting from a place of lack. Specifically, a lack of self worth. So, no matter how much we accomplish or how successful we are, operating out of the productivity wound strengthens harmful conditioning and further fuels the mindset and belief that our worth is tied to our achievements. And ultimately, there’s no end game here.
Undoing conditioning around the productivity wound
What I’m discovering is that it’s not about discarding goals and dreams. It’s about a slow and compassionate re-aligning to a state of inner surrender. It’s about connecting more deeply to our center. It’s saying yes to the unraveling of (likely years of) conditioning that’s upheld the toxic productivity mindset at work in our cells and minds. It’s remembering that we really do have everything we need within us to validate our Highest vision for our lives.
Undoing conditioning takes time, and for many of us, there’s a lot of conditioning to undo related to toxic productivity and the productivity wound.
Here are two powerful inquiries, four journal prompts, and two practices that can help you begin to undo the conditioning related to toxic productivity – and step into a more aligned, empowered paradigm.
Inquiry from Mara Branscombe
This inquiry comes from Mara Branscombe, beloved yoga teacher and ritualist. Mara teaches people that rituals are a foundation for lasting change, and shows people how to build meaningful rituals into day-to-day life.
- Did I inherit or have I been exposed to unhealthy models of productivity that are currently contributing to excessive stress in my life? Did I inherit toxic productivity models from the culture in which I was raised?
- If so, name the unhealthy ways you were pushed to achieve, succeed, and abandon what you felt was most valuable to you.
- Next, rewrite your narrative regarding productivity. For example: I am connected to my truth, I will honour my downtime and focus on completing the projects that are most valuable to me.
- Take a moment to consider the practices that most help you stay connected and strong in setting boundaries around my work to play balance in life. Write these down.
Inquiry from Jeannie Zandi
The following inquiry comes from non-dual spiritual teacher Jeannie Zandi, who’s known for helping people tap into the expansive space of living in alignment with ALL of the senses, and opening to deep wisdom that comes from living embodied vs. living in our minds.
When you notice the pull to “push forward”, try to stop for a moment and make this inquiry:
- What is happening in your body right now? Can you breathe into the discomfort and let yourself “be” for a few moments?
- What happens in your mind as you sit in being rather than jump to doing?
- What beliefs rise up about your value as a human, when you move to simply being rather than doing? Do you have a sense where those beliefs originated (particular family members, messages from role models, etc?)
- Can you bring mercy to yourself and breathe through any discomfort as you build your relationship to your pure being?
4 Paradigm-Shifting Journal Prompts
The following journal prompts come from Lisa Van Reeuwyk, an awesome business coach I’ve worked with, who’s known for helping people spark joy in their work. I’ve been working with these when my to-do list is too long and I feel anxious!
- How can what I’m doing right now spark Joy?
- When I let go, what can this look like?
- If I’m acting from a place of personal power & self love, how do I choose to spend my time?
- Where am I being called to release a sense of obligation and start living in deeper alignment? How do I contribute to past patterns that keep this alive?
TWO MORE PRACTICES THAT CAN HELP UNRAVEL THE PRODUCTIVITY WOUND
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy”
This quote describes exactly what breathwork has helped me to understand: We have access to more wisdom through our physical bodies than we do from living in our overactive minds. If you tend to have an overactive mind (like I do) breathwork is a powerful meditation practice that helps to release the mind, and connect us back to our inner wisdom and personal power. Learn more about breathwork as a tool for awakening here.
Another support you may want to access is Intuitive Guidance. Intuitives are bringing together Earth Medicine and Energy Medicine in powerful ways these days to support people in strengthening their intuition. This article profiles several guides that offer 1:1 Spirit Guidance. If you want to understand and release conditioning, each of these five offers provides deep, deep support. These people don’t do the work for you. They show you how to access your own inner intuition and the guidance available to you, to unravel any wounding in your life, and step into your path in a truer way for you.