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Toxic (?) Productivity

The Power of Rest & Receptivity


Deck the halls and all that jazz…

Does the idea of the holidays or just the end of another year, fill you with joy and relief, or does the conflict between your to-do list and the impending days off, strike dread and spark anxiety for you? If the latter is in any way applicable to you, then you may well be practicing Toxic Productivity.


What is it?

Have you ever heard the term ‘toxic productivity’? I hadn’t – until a few weeks ago.

A fellow coach friend of mine and I were chatting and I mentioned that I was writing a blog piece on toxic positivity. He misheard me and shared his views on ‘toxic productivity’ – which were very insightful! After he was done, I asked him where he had heard about toxic productivity and he said “from you – just now”.

We had a good laugh as our chats often go like this – down a rabbit hole and venturing off into various branches of the tunnels of the warren. We did eventually get back to chatting about toxic positivity but by then the seeds had been sown for today’s blog & I have been mulling over this concept ever since then.

So what does this term mean? In my research, I have discovered that this term was not coined by my friend and I in our ‘Wonderlandesque’ conversation but has, in fact been trending this year. This is not surprising to me as I know any A-type personality working remotely during lockdown is sure to find themselves using the hours they would normally spend on commuting, being more ‘productive’ in their work.

Before we get into this though, let’s start with a few definitions.

Toxic productivity is essentially an unhealthy desire to be productive at all times, at all costs.

Toxic productivity is the need to go the “extra mile” at work or at home, even when it’s not expected of you.

Toxic productivity occurs when an individual has an unhealthy obsession with being productive and constantly on the go.

You can see from these definitive statements, that there is nothing new about this mindset and behaviour – this is simply a new term for an existing problem.


Another Perspective

I am not going to go into details of what it looks like, how it manifests and what the dire long-term results will be. Most of us have heard of, read about or even experienced the negative effects of workaholism and the resultant burnout by now. This is indeed an affliction for so many but for anyone in an active pursuit of happiness, it is a mindset that must be shifted.

Which is why I want to get into Toxic Productivity’s equal opposite. What does this look like and when can this state of being, mindset & accompanying behaviours be beneficial?

For me, the opposite of Toxic Productivity is R&R – not the traditional R&R (Rest & Relaxation), but Rest and Receptivity.

We live in a world that operates in a very masculine energy which is an outward, productive, assertive, confident, giving, providing, building energy of power. In it’s purest form Divine Masculine energy is creative, intelligent, disciplined, strong and generous. Unfortunately, as with anything that works really well more than once, human beings have taken this to the extreme and most societies today, struggle to balance this energy out. Most societies in the world today have social challenges involving burnout, depression, compulsive behaviour disorders and the list goes on – all stemming from an excessive (toxic) need to be productive at all costs.


Side-note: as I was timing myself writing this, I paused to go downstairs, light the candles, play some lovely music and cook dinner so that it would be ready when my hubby got home, so that we could go and do the grocery shopping with full bellies, before I came back to my desk to finish this piece. My writing is never an academic perspective but always based on first-person experience with academic research to support.


So, how do we avoid the pitfalls of the ever enticing siren of our very masculine world - Toxic Productivity? The great equaliser that is required to bring balance to the powerful masculine energy that has been harnessed and twisted to create the systems that we operate in, is of course, the equally powerful feminine energy. More specifically - Divine Feminine.

Divine Feminine is an intricate tapestry of attributes such as receptivity, nurturing, rest, playfulness, sensuality, intuition, compassion, wisdom, collaboration and acceptance (amongst others but you get the idea). These powerful flow energies are the perfect opposite to the powerful dynamism of the masculine energy from which Toxic Productivity springs forth.

There is a sweet spot, a state of being, a mindset between these two equal and opposite forces, where flow exists, creativity is birthed and where innovation springs from. This place hold space for both energies. There is flow between and tension too – both meet to exchange and alchemise the next evolution of what is.


The Challenge

It goes to say then, that if you have been operating in one energy for too long, the pendulum must swing so that you can experience the equal opposite in full before finding just the right rhythm on your own inner metronome. This will look different for everyone and I encourage to use every opportunity to test the mirror of your dominant energy, to try it out, immerse yourself and allow your pendulum to swing to the other side.

This year-end season, practice my version of R&R: take Rest and Receive.

Real rest from everything that is your usual modus operandi. Rest from your routine, from your habits, from your usual thoughts and feelings. Open up, get vulnerable, feel your feelings, nurture your inner child and be open enough to receive all of this from yourself. Changing it up from your usual pace and routine is a gift to yourself. You are your forever person, your own best friend and the love of your life; so when you give to yourself, allow yourself to feel it fully, to be present and to acknowledge what you are receiving.

Receive from others too. I know you – you’re a member of my tribe and so I know you’re good at giving to others – gifts, your time, energy, attention…try receiving too. If anyone offers anything – say yes, receive, express gratitude and allow yourself to feel it too. In the feeling of gratitude the energy of the gift is fully received.

As you open up to your own feelings, your own vulnerability and become receptive, so you create space for others to give and receive too. You taking rest might give someone else the permission to either step up, or to join you in taking rest too. Your receiving from another might allow them to receive from you, enriching the entire exchange. As you find your balance, your energetic ripples flow from you and those around you will feel this balance too.

This universe is all about equal opposites: yin and yang, light and dark, ebb and flow. So while you’re about it, you might as well thro in a few more R’s - Reflect, Review, Renew, Re-evaluate, Recalibrate, Rejoice, Revive, Restore…


Be Blessed

Yes - BE blessed. As you wind down your year, remember that there is great power in choosing your state of being. You are the captain of your ship & the driver of your vehicle in this life. Taking Rest and Receiving is up to you, along with all those other R’s…it’s all in your hands.

May you create this year-end / holiday season your way as you support yourself in finding your balance.

Go ahead and ‘deck the halls’ but only if you want to!

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