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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When to Stop and Breathe

Moments approaching exhaustion we suddenly discover we’re not as invincible as we thought we were, or wish we could be. Too many have gone to the brink of burnout only to find they lost sight of their limits; too early did that limit come, even though, tantalisingly, our limits are far above where we initially think they are.

As a young man I was an avid bodybuilder. I was constantly amazed at how durable my body was in responding to training. It seemed I could push it harder and harder; it would respond every time. Continually the weights I could move were heavier, and I could move them for more and more repetitions. Then, without warning—a warning that was always there, in retrospect—the camel’s back broke. I developed lower lumbar tendinitis—my back felt crippled. I was then severely limited in the type of training I could do. Physically, I had burned out.

I had to re-learn how to train according to my reasonable limits.

It’s no different in life, especially as a busy working person with family, perhaps children, and even elderly parents to look after. Many others have extracurricular activities, like study. With many cares and responsibilities, we need self-care all the more.

When And How To Stop

The trouble with busy life is knowing when and how to stop. What sounds remarkably simple becomes confounding in its complexity. Stopping is hard to start. Making a habit of stopping, at the appropriate times, is a life skill few master with consistent dexterity.

Well, so much for the problem. What about the solution?

Where’s Assertiveness When We Need It

Assertiveness is not merely a skill for relationships; it’s a self-accounting measure of discipline ensuring we accurately assess, in this case, our limits, and institute delineable boundaries that provide for our constancy of wellbeing.

This thing of assertiveness is otherwise named ‘wisdom’—the achievement of the foreseeable balance that enables effectiveness to be redeemed to its reasonable maximum, and nothing more.

It’s assertiveness, in this context, that compels us to stop and to breathe.

Taking the Opportunity While We Have It

Opportunities come and go and more dynamically than we think. We know this by the countless opportunities we’ve missed.

The minute of rest, which is just enough time to gain some sorely needed cognitive perspective, can save us. The hour taken to roam the wilderness is unquantifiable bliss. The day taken in escape from our world, call it a mental health day, is reviving us from the middle. Then there’s the thing we stop altogether... for peace.

These times we just breathe; we rest in any manner of rest that’s meaningful.


Mastering the art of rest, knowing when to breathe, and to escape this fractious world, is immense freedom. Having the courageous assertiveness to do it is power. Enjoying it in reflection, going out into our world from rest; that’s majestic. Only we can know what we need. Only we can act.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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