The Myth of Being Productive by a Clinical Psychologist
Updated: May 8
In my therapy sessions with clients, I often hear: ‘I am not able to be productive’. The corresponding emotion is that of extreme disappointment, anger and sadness. I then explore this concept with them and want to shine some light on this.
Productivity derives from the word produce which literally means ‘make or manufacture from components or raw materials’. It is essentially a capitalist notion which puts productivity as one of the prime factors for capitalism to continue.
This translates into constantly doing. We must always be doing something to be productive.
We must be constructively doing, that is, produce with purpose.
But why is this ‘constructive doing’ so stressed upon?
Right from when we are a child, we are put into classes and school to become a capable member of society. If you aren’t productive, you will not earn. The result is that society labels you a failure.
What exactly does productivity translate to in terms of intrapsychic processes? It gives us motivation and energy but it also gives us stress, anxiety and fear. The constant and extreme need for productivity also forms something known as Type A personality:
A personality who is always striving for excellence and is competitive. They are at high risk for heart attacks.
We aren’t taught as to how to form a relationship to times which are unproductive which is a natural human state. We feel useless, anxious and fearful in the face of unproductivity. We feel like no one will value us. But for someone else to value us, we first need to value ourselves.
Ask yourself ‘How can I feel valuable in the face of this unproductivity’?
We are human beings, not human-doings and we need to learn how to be okay with ‘being’ and not ‘doing’ especially now when the world is facing a global pandemic. Sometimes just sitting with our unproductive selves helps us gain insight to be more productive.
Written by Vartika Modi
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
If you thinking that you are unable to cope mentally, you can seek professional help.