Do we need to “Floor our Gas Pedal” all the time? “Consciously Uncoupling” from the “Grind Culture”.

The “grind” culture has been going on for a long time.

Spoiler alert: Grind culture = unrealistic expectations.

Photo and quote by Tamara Kulish
Click to see merch on Fine Art America

The grind culture comes and goes every few years with people overworking themselves and feeling guilty if they’re not working, to them discovering that their health and relationships are suffering as a result of their efforts.

We used to want a work/life balance, then we didn’t, then we wanted to set healthy boundaries, etc.

“Quiet quitting” (see my previous post) became the “it word to describe setting boundaries and not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of.

Then “quiet firing” made its rounds, explaining the phenomenon of managers making life so unbearable for an employee that they’d quit instead of firing them.

It’s interesting to have these cultural buzzwords floating around at a time when I’m able to observe these things happening around me, as well as other people’s reactions, in real-time.

I’ve just gone through a period of time where events in my life took up so much bandwidth in my mind that I wasn’t able to write as frequently as I did previously.

Photo and quote by Tamara Kulish
Click to see merch on Fine Art America

Rather than feel guilty about not meeting writing and publishing targets, I simply allowed myself to flow with what was happening instead of fighting against it to meet what ultimately are arbitrary burdens we place on ourselves.

Health tolls of Grind Culture

In the past, I had to learn the hard way that always “pushing through”, against all odds, and never slowing down to rest and recuperate, had a terrible effect on my health.

I developed Chronic Shingles in my early 20s because I didn’t take care of my health and kept pushing through.

My stress levels were sky-high in those days (I had an alcoholic/cocaine-addicted husband who was creating financial headaches) but I had no idea how to handle stress except to try to burn it off through exercise, which ended up putting even more stress on my body, so I got Shingles for the first time, due to the effects stress had on my immune system.


Even though my doctor had perhaps told me to rest a bit (I don’t remember that very well), I pushed through and kept my extremely rigorous workout routine going, because that was how I handled my stress. That was exactly the opposite of what my mind and body needed, so I had a relapse with the Shingles.

Getting sick with a very painful illness only added to my stress, so guess what I did to deal with the stress?

Right! I continued with my grueling workouts, which only made me experience relapse after relapse, which made me even more stressed out. (I was an anorexic during that time, and exercise was also my way of dealing with any incoming calories.)

What a self-defeating cycle! Unfortunately for me, all those relapses created a Chronic condition, that even now affects my immune system.

Trust me when I say, I’ve learned from that painful lesson, that when I feel my mind and body are overwhelmed, I need to back off and take things easier. If I don’t listen, I end up paying the price with Shingles eruptions making themselves known for a few weeks.

So this time when I felt almost my entire bandwidth being taken over, I didn’t fight it, I went with the flow.

Grind culture = unrealistic expectations

A huge part of successfully navigating the flow of new circumstances seeking to impose conditions on us is mentally disengaging from expectations!

Expectations, ours, and our perception of others are in themselves huge stressors. Expectations often aren’t real but are what we imagine other people want from us, and vice versa.

Expectations often are very unrealistic and pay no attention to what is actually going on or what could actually happen. Expectations are often exaggerations of wishes and desires, so they need to be cut down to size, to fit with reality.

By “Consciously Uncoupling” (see how I brought another buzzword in?) from expectations, we can then allow ourselves to go at a pace that makes much more sense.

In order to do this, we must first look inward at our thoughts to see what hidden expectations we have been holding onto, look at them straight in the eye, and ask ourselves if we really are able to fulfill them even in the best of conditions. Then we need to carefully look at what our current conditions are to determine if it’s realistically feasible to do.

Often expectations fool us with their flashy appearance and their false promises, so we believe them to be true! Unfortunately, they’re not!

Perceived disappointments

Once we consciously separate ourselves from expectations, it becomes so much easier to map out a much more beneficial strategy for our workload and to mentally minimize the perceived disappointments we fear others will have in us.

Perceived disappointments that others may have in us are a huge inner propellant to pushing ourselves way past our limitations.

Having had a chronic illness and people still expecting me to be a miracle worker, I understand this pressure.

The pressures other people place on our shoulders are real, so being able to firmly set boundaries that respect our mental and physical limitations is vital, for they won’t do it for us!

I repeat: other people will not back off placing expectations upon us; it is up to each of us to recognize what we’re able to handle and what throws our mental and physical health under the bus!

Don’t expect others to understand what our limitations are, nor to give us grace when we set our boundaries in place.

Expect pushback from others.

They may have become overly reliant on us, have placed too much responsibility on our shoulders, or/and expect us to operate at levels they can sustain.

Remember this: only we ourselves live in our own skin, so only we know when we’re physically, mentally, and emotionally overloaded.

These levels are different for each person, so what is doable for one person is too much for someone else. PS: don’t be fooled for a second by what people post on social media! It’s pretty much 90% smoke and mirrors!

Don’t feel pressured to “live up to” or to conform to the “standards” certain people seem to be setting! Set your own!

As I stated earlier when I was chronically ill with Shingles, people had no clue that constant pain interrupts sleep, so extreme fatigue is a very real issue, and not respecting one’s energy levels can result in getting sicker.

Those same people still expected me as a single mom to work full time, do my grocery shopping/cooking/cleaning/pick ups and drop offs, as well as be available for all church activities. It took every ounce of energy to just get through a workday, then I’d struggle home on public transit, stopping off along my route to do errands/shopping before I got home. I was exhausted and sometimes crawled around on my hands and knees behind closed doors because my body and knees had given in.

The disdain I was treated with was strong. I received many “corrective” conversations about my “behavior” and was told I just needed to “pull up my bootstraps” and do what was expected of me. (I always tried to maintain a cheerful face, not to complain, for I didn’t want to risk receiving more “corrective” conversations, so that meant that except for very few, most people had no idea the true scope of what I was experiencing.)

I did my very best to comply, in order to gain their approval, but it was a goal I never reached. It broke me further and added to the anxieties and depression I was struggling with.

With every person who expressed their “disappointment” or disdain for my health issues and “how I was handling it”, my inner self-talk became more and more negative as I berated and chastised myself for “not measuring up”.

Setting limitations

Setting limitations in order to manage expectations will sometimes result in removing certain activities or people from our lives, or the people decide to remove themselves.

So be it.

We cannot be ALL things to ALL people. Mission impossible!

I know this may be a point of bitterness and frustration, but until we accept that reality we will continue chasing the unattainable.

If you’ve read this far, you may yourself be struggling with needing to put limitations into place, knowing that you will get pushback from some people, or you may feel you’re letting them down.

Ask yourself: Is the current level of energy being expended sustainable, or are you starting to break?

If you’re starting to break, I do advise pumping the brakes!

A gradual slowdown can be more manageable and easier to fold into your current life than a more drastic stoppage.

If you do nothing, you risk your mental/physical, and even emotional health breaking down completely, and then a stoppage is forced upon you.

I repeat: Doing nothing to change is still a choice. It may well result in a complete breakdown of health, forcing you to take care of yourself.

Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury!

Self-care is necessary for us to be able to function well for many years to come. Don’t expect others to notice, step in and tell you to rest! Many bosses and family members are only too happy to keep imposing upon you in order to have their needs and wants to be met.

It’s up to us to look at what is realistic, what is sustainable, and what is not!

It’s up to each of us to speak up for ourselves. We can do this kindly and politely, but if we’re not being heard or respected, it’s up to each of us to decide if we wish to withdraw from that environment or activity.

Our activity and energy levels will also fluctuate, so expecting a consistent level may be very unrealistic, and we need to communicate with others when these changes occur, and not expect them to perceive it.

Going full-bore all the time isn’t healthy! It takes its toll.

Even machines need downtime to cool off the engines and for maintenance! Why are we expecting that we can outperform machines?

Let me know what your thoughts are regarding this prickly subject and what you are doing in your own life to respect your limitations and manage expectations!

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13 thoughts on “Do we need to “Floor our Gas Pedal” all the time? “Consciously Uncoupling” from the “Grind Culture”.

  1. Wow, Tamara! As you know, I’ve had similar health issues, mainly digestion, which also affects your immune system, due to exactly what you’ve described—pushing through when we should be flowing. I’m glad you (and I) have learned from prior experience. It’s never too late to improve on how we interact in the world. Plus, we’re the ones who have to face the consequences, so it’s almost life/death to learn these things.


  2. I can well relate to all the issues you raise. As you say: “Don’t expect others to understand what our limitations are, nor to give us grace when we set our boundaries in place.” When it comes to failing the expectations of family members, I’ve had to accept the pushback and to keep my distance for my well-being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it, it’s a tough place to be in, but protecting one’s mental health over getting mowed down is very important. I’ve had to make those choices too. Having limitations that others don’t understand is very difficult. Blessings to you to help you through!


    1. I feel for you! I hope you will take a page from what happened to my health and be okay with setting reasonable limits for yourself! It’s okay to do less, if it means that you are able to keep going longer! Steady as she goes!


  3. Some really valuable lessons in this post that I’ve noted in my journal:
    – expectations aren’t real but are what we imagine other people want from us

    – it’s up to us to recognise what we can handle, other people will not back off

    – people have different levels of how much they can do, what is doable for one is not doable for someone else.

    – don’t believe what people are posting on social media, it’s 90% smoke and mirrors

    As a parent to young children I face these struggles every day putting too much pressure on what I want to achieve, and with my responsibilities never having time to achieve it!

    I often look with envy at social media how much people seem to be able to do. I have to remind myself they have different circumstances- even these super dads who can achieve all their goals must be neglecting something to get there? Or like you say its 90% smoke and mirrors and most people online are lying to sound good!

    Fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much James! I’m so happy that there were some helpful points for you to meditate on to implement! I get it. I was a single mom and the expectations of others based on what they perceived other people capable of doing just didn’t correspond to what I was able to do.

      As an artist who needs to use art as an outlet not only for creative expression but as part of the oxygen I breathe, others just couldn’t understand why I needed to focus it into my schedule. Why couldn’t I just put it aside until everything they wanted me to do was done? Believe me, I tried to do that to gain their approval, but I found their list of to-do items kept getting longer to the point that there was never time to do any art making.

      I was dying inside and they couldn’t see it, I just received criticism about it, so I had to decide for myself what I wished to do and just say f*ck-it to the list of expectations!

      I’m living that reality very happily now!


  4. You spoke directly to my heart and mind, Tamara. All of it, but especially the desire to be all things to all people, despite a chronic illness, and the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves (along with the ones others place on us). Thank you for this. I’m going to save your post to refer back to. 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy this post resonated in a deeply heartfelt way, and will continue to serve as a supportive reminder of what to do, for we all need this from time to time, don’t we? Spoken and unspoken expectations get in the way of relationships being able to become healthier and for communication to become clearer, however, it’s a doable goal!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Agreed. Well said. I made a conscious decision yesterday to let go and let God about this housing business. I can no longer stand the strain. I will do the work and then turn it over to Him. He’s got us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! He’s got our backs, along with the Angels assigned to us! Do what you are able to, and release the rest! Keep positive thoughts going! Quantum science says our thoughts affect our environment around us. Metaphysical people say our positive emotions are vital to attracting good things gs to ourselves. Religion teaches us to pray, and to give thanks for prayers yet unanswered. To me, that speaks of a lot of hope and positivity, so even in my own life I’m choosing the positive thoughts because I feel so much better when I do!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome post! So many of us try so hard to please everyone when it’s not necessary. We can’t please everyone. It’s impossible to. And self-care is extremely important because without it we aren’t able to do everything we need to do in a healthy way. Very inspiring and informative post Tamara.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Pennize! Yes, those spoken and unspoken expectations keep us locked into performing for others, but against our best interests!

      I’m sure we’ve all do e it to some extent or another, so consciously disengaging and setting boundaries that actually work for us is a HUGE thing! This is a big key component to building better mental and physical health!

      Thanks so much for your commentary!

      Liked by 1 person

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