To Play or Perform?


Do you ever struggle with an internal battle between the pressure to take time to play and not ‘wasting’ time so you can perform?

Oh, the mind! It’s such a brat sometimes.

It wants you to play.
It wants you to take a break.

Playing is way more fun than working.
Playing is much easier than adulting.


But when you DO give yourself license to play, guess what happens? Your mind tells you all the reasons why taking a vacation or a day off is a horrible, irresponsible idea and a waste of your brilliant mind and precious time. You must stop playing and get back to performing!

You’re torn.

As a working mom without a partner, I have a fairly steady conversation in my head about how I spend my time. In fact, it was working overtime when I recently went on two consecutive trips. During the trips, my mind was in full freak-out mode with thoughts like, “What if you run out of money?!” “You should go home early and get back to work!”

Then, the part of me who understands how play is vital to my health argued back, “I’m on vacation, leave me alone.” “I can’t perform if I’m totally wiped out and swallowed by pain.” “When I thrive, my business thrives!”

Yup, my mind was in full-on, good ol’ cognitive dissonance. (A fancy way of saying believing opposing thoughts at the same time.) It was exhausting, and definitely not conducive to my needed rest.

When did we decide that our job is to perform, not play? Is it when we became parents? Or have we always felt this way? 

As a parent, I believe motherhood amplifies the amount of pressure we put on ourselves:

  • If we aren’t working, we aren’t providing what our family needs.
  • If we aren’t at home mom-ing, we aren’t providing what our family needs. 

It looks like a no win situation…

…But hold on. Are those truthful statements? Or just thoughts and opinions we decided to believe?

Here’s where we have to pick up on our own primal mind’s shenanigans. (I like to call the primal mind the ‘toddler brain’)

Your primal mind lives to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and get what it wants as soon as possible. (Do you see how it’s like a toddler?) So when you are performing in your job and you hit a snag, have a deadline, or are just about to jump to the next level, your mind sees this as discomfort and therefore it MUST be super dangerous! 

“Abort, abort!”
“Let’s go get ice cream and play at the park instead.”

And when you are at the park eating ice cream with your kids, your mind notices this is out of routine for you. It doesn’t understand this “ice cream and park” thing. It only understands that in the middle of the day, you should be at work. It sees this as danger and possible pain.

“Abort, abort!”
“Get back to work so we don’t lose our job, our business, or the roof over our heads!”

Seems crazy, but that’s how your brain works. What’s really cool, is you have this other brain: The BOSS brain (your prefrontal cortex).  

Your BOSS brain is the voice of reason.

It knows that ice cream in the park for one hour will actually benefit your mindset and work day. Your BOSS brain will tell the toddler brain that it’s OKAY. Nothing has gone wrong. There is no danger. It’s just a break so that Mom can go back to performing at a higher level.

What gets in our way is that WE, the mom, are so concerned with which is the correct decision. Which decision has less discomfort (AKA less judgement) and will make everyone happy? (psst: no decision will make everyone happy.)

What if you realized that YOU are in charge of YOUR mind?

You don’t have to listen to the screams of fear coming from inside your head. You don’t have to feel guilty that you are doing it wrong. You have the power to tell that voice, “Thank you, but I got this,” and make your BOSS brain decision:

  • Play!
  • Perform!
  • Do both!

You CAN have it all. 
You CAN release the pressure. It’s a decision you make. You know what’s best for you and your family, I promise.

Mama, take control. Be your own Boss (brain) and never let your toddler (brain) run your life!

If you need help figuring this out, please reach out. While the concept might read easy on paper, it takes practice and a deeper understanding of your own beliefs and mind drama to make a permanent shift.