Personal Growth Work

It Doesn’t Count If It’s Not Hard

Chatting with friends about the toxic Protestant work ethic and how insidious it is. Realized I have trouble “giving myself credit” for things that aren’t hard, from exercise to writing to art. Like, blogging is easy for me, and creating texture packs, and my current Sense Memory project. And I shouldn’t treat these things less seriously just because they come easily.

Frustrating to realize I’m making things harder on myself! It’s not cheating just because it’s not hard!

Thought my friend broke that mentality down really well:

Yeah, there’s such a nasty throughline there: to be productive (where productivity=value) I have to work; everyone talks about how hard work is (we also equate hardworking as a value standard) so if it’s work (which is valuable) it must be hard; if something isn’t hard, then it isn’t work and isn’t valuable; ergo, if I’m doing something that isn’t hard for me, it’s not of value (and by extension, I’m not of value)

Also some advice from Twitter (emphasis mine):

Handy tip of the day: if you suffer from intrusive guilt, make a list of your moral values.

Then go through that list and evaluate them for whether they are realistic, whether they treat you as equal to others, and whether they are your values or just things you were taught.

When you feel guilty, look at your list of values- are you violating any of your values? Is it a value that is fair, non-hypocritical, and YOURS? Guilt should be the voice of your conscience, not your anxiety. It’s helpful to be able to tell the difference.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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