I took the gift of an hour today to join a small Circle of Healing with some colleagues from around the country. The Leader of this circle refers to herself as both a clinician and a shaman. What an incredible mix of skills and knowledge that is so important in this moment in time for all of us who work in the non-profit world.
Today we discussed and experienced what it meant to “do nothing”. Most of us admitted that we all have things we do when “doing nothing”. Meaning we aren’t “doing nothing”. I don’t know what it is like in other countries, but in the US I find that we have a work culture that demands us to be constantly active and busy even when we are “relaxing”. This doesn’t allow our brains to quiet so our bodies can rest. Without rest for our bodies and our minds, we do not have the capacity to sustain us for the long haul.
In the work to end domestic violence, most of what we are dealing with is crises. The humans who call us for assistance are in crisis. The agencies are constantly in crisis searching for resources to respond to the humans seeking assistance. The leadership in the agencies are usually in crisis seeking enough human capital to respond. And the staff are in crisis trying to maintain the resources and resilience needed to meet the needs of people in pain and afraid.
So how do we keep up and make sure we are able to maintain and sustain? We must find the gifts of time and space to “do nothing”. Truly do nothing. Our brains need time to settle and be quiet in order for our bodies to settle and be quiet.
There is a growing body of work recommending that regular breaks and body movement every hour or so allows us to refresh and continue with more focus and substance. No one – NO ONE – is able to keep working for hours on end and do their best work without regular breaks. We must retrain ourselves to understand that the martyrdom method of hours and hours without regenerative breaks is not allowing us to give our all to our jobs. Quite the opposite. If we want the best work from our employees it is important to understand that providing an atmosphere that allows each individual to approach their work at their best pace in their best time will lead to productivity that makes the agency shine.
So if you are dedicated to ending domestic violence and you are working in some capacity in the work, find little ways to give yourself a break on a regular basis. Do nothing for five minutes. Do this twice a day. Try it for a month. Then evaluate the work you accomplished that month and see if you were able to be more productive.
We all need each other in this work to end the epidemic of domestic violence. Give yourself and maybe your colleagues a gift. Thank you for all you do.
President and CEO