Why Does Slowing Down Feel Shameful?

MAJ St MaloIt’s been 2 months since the last WDF event, during which time I’ve learned a lot about sailing between the islands and France, started a health regime where I actually do my 10,000 steps a day, started a painting course, swum in the sea more times than I’ve done since I was a child, plus, and I kid you not, been having regular early morning swims with campfire bacon and eggs breakfast! In short, I’ve been having a ball!

And I want to add quickly it’s not all been holiday! I have been doing some work, but the crucial thing is I have been doing considerably less work than I have ever done before. In fact the last time I took this amount of down time from work I had to give birth part way through! So why then do I feel so guilty for walking on the cliffs on a weekday? And why do I cringe and feel a sense of shame when someone asks me that ubiquitous question “keeping busy?”

It would seem that my unconscious programming is still set to busy = good, working hard and therefore successful, not busy = lazy, self-indulgent and not successful. I hesitated even to write this blog, as all I could imagine was being pelted with rotten tomatoes for bragging about my good fortune at being able to take this time out to slow down. However in truth I’ve been on the hamster wheel of long hours and hard work my entire life, seeking success, self-esteem and financial reward. But as I’ve wandered the cliffs I’ve been wondering, was that actually “fulfilling my potential”? In some ways yes of course, yet it is so easy to collapse “fulfilling potential” only with career success rather than seeing a wider perspective.

Now the rain has arrived, I am easing myself back into a longer working week doing more coaching and exploring where WDF might be heading next. As I do so, I want to really remember that exploring our potential for being healthier, happier and going slower is just as relevant to the WDF “inspiring female potential” mission as keeping our noses to the grindstone.

So as I look to match what we can offer with what working women actually want from us, I want to make sure that I remember the lessons this summer has taught me, and make sure wellbeing is high on the list of priorities.