7 Methods for Recovering From Internalized Capitalism
Your self-worth is not connected to your productivity
If you’re taking a break from working right now, how are you feeling?
Do you feel vaguely unproductive? A little guilty for resting? Is your brain saying: If you get back to work and produce you’ll feel fulfilled?
That’s internalized capitalism for you. Capitalism is a centuries-old system, but considering how the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the economy and many people’s employment situations, it’s not surprising if you find yourself feeling this sting acutely.
“Internalized capitalism is a revision of the protestant work ethic,” explains Brooklyn-based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, author of Finding Happy. “It is this idea that to be unproductive is sin, and as such, this idea that you must always be producing is in direct relation to your worthiness.” We’ve all internalized capitalism to a certain degree. Yet, how does one recover from such a state, and is recovery even possible? Here are some ways to try:
Recognize the roots of internalized capitalism
“Internalized capitalism is rooted in white supremacy,” says Marvin Toliver — a therapist at The Radical Therapy Center and co-founder of Melanated Social Work. “The fact that we, individually, have such a connection to our work, how much we can produce, and how much money we can make is extremely problematic. Tying it back to white supremacy, to capitalism, and to race and racism is really helpful for my clients.” He encourages patients to make themselves a priority over their work, meaning that they should take time off and take breaks throughout the day. This applies even if they are working from home.
“A lot of these jobs, if they decide to either fire you or if you quit, they will replace you in a heartbeat,” emphasizes Toliver. “So why are we putting so much importance on jobs that usually don’t put that much importance on us? I think it’s about taking back that power.” Framed this way, making space for yourself in your work life feels like the opposite of self-indulgent. It feels both freeing and revolutionary.