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Productivity and Self-Worth

I hate that I am so lazy.”, I will never be able to…”, “I’m such a failure.”, “I really hate that I’m so…”

In a recent survey, research emphasized that worrying about work on an off day, feeling too busy to take a vacation, and checking emails immediately after waking up (something 58 percent of the respondents say they do) were the top three symptoms of suffering from workaholism. The social, academic, socioeconomic, and internal pressures that we experience often causes us to feel the need to create when our glasses are half full and we don’t have anything else to give.

Why is it that we equate our self-worth to our productivity? What you can produce at the time is not a reflection of who you are and what you are worth. You do not need to produce tons of work in a short period of time to have or maintain your value. Know that value is internal, and not external. You will never truly feel good about yourself or your capabilities if you do not validate yourself.

We often create hefty to-do lists and some days we check everything off the list and other days we do the bare minimum, even if that means doing laundry and not folding or putting away the clean clothes until days later. Guess what? That is just a part of being a human. Although it may sound cliché, it’s the truth. There will be some days where we are extremely energetic and we accomplish many, if not all, of the goals that we set for ourselves. There will be other days where we will accomplish little to nothing and that is okay.

Because we live in a capitalistic society that values productivity, independence, and success, we are often taught that we do not need to take breaks nor ask for help when it is needed. We have learned to continue to produce even if that means losing sleep, missing out on valuable family time, declining invitations to attend outings with friends, not maintaining a healthy diet or working out, etc. in the name of being successful. We live in a society that is competitive, so at times we feel as though we must do everything that we can to be better than the next person or even a better version of ourselves than who we were yesterday, but why? How do we separate productivity from self-worth? How do we show ourselves empathy and what does that look like? It is imperative to be able to still value ourselves even when we are not producing our best work or even producing a lot of material at once. Otherwise, you will continue to fall into the never-ending cycle of negative self-talk or even lacking self-love.

How often do you stop and congratulate yourself on the progress that you’ve made that no one knows about? How often do you clap for yourself without seeking external validation from other people? Literally no one at all knows what it takes to be you and do the things that you do. Congratulate yourself. Love yourself. Honor yourself. Have you noticed how focusing on what’s next causes you to not enjoy the present? It’s easy to accomplish goals and set new ones, but it is not so easy to get the time back that you’ve missed because you were so focused on achieving new things. Focus on the now. Pay attention to the small things. Give thanks. Take breaks. Have faith. Give yourself grace to just exist sometimes. You will be successful, but you must take care of yourself first. Everything else will fall into place once you do so.

What can you do if you struggle with productive-based self-worth?

There are certainly many things that can be done to combat the need to be productive. However, I think it is essential to reframe your idea(s) of rest and what that looks like to you. In doing so, notice how you think about rest, where you learned these ideas and how effective it has been for you thus far. Next, question the thoughts that you may have about rest. Lastly, replace the thoughts that you have about rest with ones that will allow for you to show up in the ways in which you need to and would like to. Rest is a priority. Rest is a necessity.

It is also crucial to see self-worth as a value of yours and not a condition. Self-worth is recognizing the ways in which you think and feel about yourself. It is not something that should not be altered or viewed differently based on your current circumstances, who you are around or the environment that you are in. Stop comparing yourself to others and challenge the negative self-talk that you have towards yourself.

Author: Ariyana Thomas, HSC Intern

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