Have you ever watched a butterfly rest?
They will find somewhere to land, and they will fold their wings up vertically, appearing almost perfectly still. Occasionally there will be a flex or two of the wings to open and close them, but for the most part, they hang out with their wings up. Now, I haven’t personally spoken directly to a butterfly at rest, so I can’t tell you exactly what they’re thinking, but I would imagine it’s some version of “Ahh…. man, it feels good to let these wings relax for a minute.” I’m guessing they’re not spending that time meticulously plotting which specific flower they’re going to fly to next or worrying about their next rest spot as opposed to enjoying the one they’re currently in. I like to think that perhaps it’s a chance for these beautiful creatures to just…rest. To be. To exist. No “doing” required.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to go wings up? Do you have a definition of what that would look like for you?
For a long time, my tendency has been to flap my proverbial wings as hard as I can for as long as I can until there’s some calamitous event, warning, or illness that forces me to rest. And even then, I tried to “do just the easy stuff”, meaning I never actually fully rested. However, as I’ve tuned in more to what my inner voice is asking of me, what my authentic self in its full integrity really needs, I’ve learned to heed the request to go “wings up” and let myself rest.
Before you scroll right past the rest of this, however, I want to point out one critical step that made all the difference for me. I had to define what being “wings up” really means for ME. In addition, I had to take a few other steps to help me actually accomplish the behavior change:
- Intentionally setting time aside to think about it! Gasp! The horror! How could you possibly set aside time to think about how to rest? Don’t you know the to-do list is waiting?? Yep. Had to get those thoughts to quiet the eff down first.
- Defining how I wanted to feel when I committed to a rest period. What did putting my wings up really look like in practice? A full day in front of the TV? One hour in the tub with candle lights and Epsom salts? A weekend retreat by myself in the mountains? 20 minutes journaling at the coffee shop down the street? Consider the ways you’ve gone wings up before, and then examine those in light of what your current desires for rest truly are. I know mine changed over time!
- Giving myself permission to go wings up. I had to put it on the to-do list. This may be unique to me, but one of my strategies for giving myself permission is to transform it into an item that isn’t just something I get to do, it’s something I need to do.
- Not letting myself off the hook when I didn’t do it! I’m the Queen and Almighty Eternal Wizard of giving myself a free pass when it comes to resting if there’s something that’s “Productive with a capital P” competing for attention. For true behavior change, ya gotta be prepared for this. Making it part of an ongoing evaluation helps me stay on track with my wings up time.
If you’re still reading this, my gut says it’s not that you’re looking for more tactics of how to actually do this. It’s not about how you schedule, what time the alarm is set for, or how many competing priorities you are juggling. It’s about valuing the act of going wings up and then mustering the courage to do so. Once you give this practice its rightful value and understand how pivotal it really is for your well-being as well as your productivity, you’ll quickly find the courage to experience it. And that, my friend, is when the magic will happen.