You’re not alone. I can’t count how many smart, accomplished women like you (and me) race to the bathroom between tasks. We work and work. We wait and wait. We ignore and ignore. And then we sprint casually to the bathroom hoping that no one will notice our walk-run.
Here’s what’s going on with all this racing woman phenomenon. We’ve been conditioned to dismiss our body’s natural rhythms and needs. The patriarchy taught us to push our bodies beyond their natural limit for the sake of sacrifice and productivity. The patriarchy taught us to overwork and over-effort which creates the perfect storm of women running to the bathrooms before we pee our pants.
The solution isn’t just about scheduling bathroom breaks, although scheduling bathroom and food breaks is an effective practice. The framework that disrupts our conditioning redefines “productivity” and honors our whole selves including our bladders and our brains. It’s about valuing our worth.
Historically, the confluence of patriarchy, white supremacy culture, religion, and capitalism in the United States created a narrative about morality and productivity. Hard work was considered virtuous and laziness was considered to be a moral flaw. These binary concepts were defined and measured by different aspects of society and policed in the lives of individuals. We inherited this legacy.
We are not running from Reverend Parris in 1690’s Salem, Massachusetts, but it still feels like it. That’s because we inherited generational beliefs that anything, not “productive” is punishable by criticism, termination, and shame. The threat of appearing lazy or unmotivated conditioned some of us to overwork which is a cornerstone of Imposter Syndrome.
Fast forward to 2022. Here are a few questions for modern-day you.
How do you define productivity?
How often do you worry that someone will think that you are not working hard enough?
How often do you feel the need to justify that your time off is “well earned?”
How regularly do you check work email on the weekends or in the middle of the night?
Who measures your productivity?
Who rewards your productivity?
Disrupting our patterns of overwork that lead to burnout can begin with getting curious about the inner voice that says “Just keep going” when our bodies scream – “I need to pee!” You don’t have to “earn” a bathroom break. You get to listen to your body without shame. Try that out this week and see what happens.