Capitalism is lying to you
This is likely not news to you. We live in a capitalist society that values profit above all else. We’ve been socialized from a young age to think about how we are going to contribute to this profit. One of the first things we like to ask children is “what are you going to be when you grow up?” – and by this, we don’t mean how do you want to be in relation to others, or what kind of person do you want to be, but “what do you want to do for money?” This question is presumptuous, it assumes that people can choose their work, that everyone has the ability work in the way that capitalism demands, and that people can choose what they do instead of needing to take any job that comes along to able to survive.
Whether or not you’re productive doesn’t decide your value as a human being
In session, many people talk about the idea of being “productive”. Productive usually means to be doing something that will get someone money, but sometimes it can also mean doing something which makes one feel valuable. That’s just it- we’ve been taught that we need to be doing something, contributing, making money, caretaking others, to be seen as valuable (when really, we are inherently valuable!). This constant grind makes it hard to rest. Slowing down and being with our thoughts, that’s hard too. That can be painful. I’m not trying to fault anyone for doing what they need to survive. But I wonder what might happen if we allowed ourselves to rest, to slow down, to really tune into what we want and need. To be with our emotions. What might happen, both individually and collectively, if this was something our society normalized and created space for?
Slowing down as a radical act
Capitalism doesn’t allow for this. If we all slowed down, if we allowed ourselves to spend time feeling the wide range of emotions there is to feel, including PLEASURE…then the world would come to a halt. Capitalism would crumble. And we can’t have that, because we don’t know of an alternative, or maybe we don’t want to know. The billionaires certainly don’t want us to know. Their profit depends on the backs of people like us, of the most marginalized people.
When you walk into the therapy room (or in my case, turn on your computer) to slow down, to contemplate, to get into an in depth conversation about your hopes, dreams, fears…you are protesting capitalism. Of course, you also have the privilege to afford therapy. Even though I offer a sliding scale, I acknowledge that living under capitalism means it is unfortunately a privilege to have the time, money, and emotional space to attend therapy regularly.
Let yourself rest
When you find yourself getting down on yourself about not being “productive” or not doing something the way we are expected to, ask yourself: is the problem you? Or is the problem capitalism, ableism, white supremacy, or some other system of oppression? My invitation to you is to take a moment, breathe, and let yourself rest in whatever way makes sense in that moment. Maybe it’s genuinely a nap. Maybe it’s silly dancing to your favourite song. Maybe it’s turning on your favourite tv show or podcast. Maybe it’s tuning into your body, noticing the sensations, the impulses.
You deserve rest. You deserve connection, with yourself and with others. You weren’t put on this earth to make money.
PS: Inspiration for this piece comes from many activists and thought leaders, including bell hooks, Maya Angelou, The Nap Ministry’s Tricia Hersey (pre-order her new book Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto), and Sonya Renee Taylor. Thanks also my good friend (and an amazing therapist!) Sophie Raniere for the feedback on this piece. Special thanks to my clients, without whom I wouldn’t have the honour of doing what I do <3