• Amber Arnold

Dismantling Productivity and healing collectively

The 3 p's;


In our culture productivity, perfectionism, and preparedness trump many of our intuitive values. Self care and honoring our body/mind and spirit come last, and in many marginalized communities self care is seen by the dominant culture as selfish, shameful, taking up too much space, etc.

"No-one is going to give you permission to love, honor, and take care of yourself. Self care is our right and responsibility to reclaim" - this (para-phrased) message lit a fire in my soul when Emily Megas-Russell shared this wisdom with me.

Productivity is a value held by many, that in balance can be nourishing and thrive in unison with many other values. When I speak of dismantling productivity, I am speaking of dismantling a disempowering, imbalanced form of productivity. One that discredits and brings shame to tuning into the body, valuing our intuition, and the permission to sit and... do nothing.

We are sometimes given two illusionary choices in this social construct. Avoid, deny, suppress, and medicate your intuitive wisdom so you can be more productive OR risk listening to your intuition and needs, be shamed, be seen as selfish, lazy, insert your judgement here... But these belief systems don't have to be our truth.

Once we shift the focus from heavily masculine dominating belief systems, we can begin to see black and white thinking from a different perspective. We move past EITHER, OR, and shift focus to BOTH, AND.

"We learn to balance productivity with self care, and in many ways we combine the two (or reframe our definition of productivity). I can be productive and care for my body and needs, in fact, this is essentially what true productivity is."

My Life Example: This morning while taking a shower I wanted to sit, I felt the judgement part of myself say, "everything you do should have a purpose and meaning. If you are in the shower your focus should be on washing your body, hair, face, getting clean and getting out." I allowed myself to tune into this judgement part of myself and I gave it a new job, "The most productive thing I can do right now, is honor the needs of my body. Sitting in the shower, and doing nothing IS productive. Tuning into your body IS productive. Honoring your needs, honoring your shifts, listening and embracing the fluidity of whatever is going on in your body IS true productivity."

As MLK once said “We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

I love this quote because it deeply illustrates how our values shape our vision of what productivity actually means. When our goals are "person-oriented" the meaning of productivity shifts greatly. You are not required to live in an illusion that makes you believe being productive is separate from honoring your body, and valuing your intuition and ability to identify and care for the needs of your body.

Perfectionism and preparedness are also heavily imbalanced belief systems of our dominant cultures. If you aren't striving for perfectionism and you aren't "prepared" you run the risk of seeming less trustworthy and accountable, But what exactly do these words mean? What value do they truly hold in terms of healing collectively? do flowers, plants, and trees thrive when they are planted in rows?, color coordinated sections?, sprayed with insect killers?, simply to be aesthetically pleasing? or do they thrive in community with one another and with insects in a state of natural balance in untamed territory, feeding each other, supporting each other, becoming allies to one another? Essentially the difference between permaculture & traditional farming.

"The true order of human nature does not come from perfectionism and individualistic values, it comes from the beauty of collective healing, liberation, community, and connection with one another."

The "epidemic" of many of our "issues" today stem from disempowerment AND values of collective healing, liberation, community, and connection not being valued in the dominant culture.

I see so much of this in my side work of marketing, logo, and web design as these qualities, especially perfectionism dominate the market. Cohesive colors, fonts, consistent story/ brand image. Perfect writing, punctuation, sentence structures filled with jargon. We view change, impermanence, and uncertainty as un-credible, un-trustworthy, and therefore un-sustainable in a business model. This style of design limits creativity, self expression, disempowers change, and heavily influences ideas of perfectionism, preparedness, and the importance of outward image in our culture.

I see so much value in looking to our intuition, each other, and fellow plant allies for council on this matter. We don't need to hold and imbalance of productiveness, perfectionism, and preparedness as our dominant values, and in fact this mindset is disempowering to ourselves and those around us kicking in the, "who am I to be brave, vibrant, creative, daring?" thought processes.

To really begin the much needed work of dismantling productivity in the western construct we must begin to look to and value our intuitive wisdom, our ancestral connections, the teachings surrounding us in the natural world. We need to value collective healing, liberation, and empowerment of our communities as collective, unified spaces while dismantling the illusions of separateness, perfectionism, preparedness, and productiveness as being our gauge of success and worthiness.

We must value self care for ourselves and for all. Not only is this our right, but it is also our responsibility. The 7 generations below us are depending on it.

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