“I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date!
No time to say Hello! Goodbye!
I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”
The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland
The whole world seems to be telling us to “hurry up”. As a result we can be too busy for our own good. Eventually we reach the point where we ask; “Why am I doing this to myself?”
There are huge differences as to why we get overly busy. Some reasons are productive. Others are quite dysfunctional. Also folks have different energy levels, social/family needs, professional demands, ways they take care of themselves, and the stage they find themselves in life.
At the root of hurry, beyond the fact of time management, there are two basic questions we could ask:
1. What am I running from?
2. What am I moving towards?
People who are unconsciously driven by past demons often spend much of their lives running from their hurt. This hurried flight can be explained in part by the following self-statements.
1. “I am inadequate!” Our perceived lack of value may be pegged to insecurities related to personal appearance, lovability, intellectual capacity, social status, and so on. Driven by deep feelings of inferiority we pack our lives with activities that we believe will compensate for our felt sense of inadequacy.
2. “I don’t have enough!” Here we literally become greedy for whatever we believe will fill that vacuum in our lives. So the more friends we accumulate, possessions we acquire, social events we attend, steps we climb on the corporate ladder, or business commitments we make, we believe that these behaviors will fill the empty but leaking bucket of our lives. The sad fact is that the activities we pursue never seem to fully satisfy us.
3. “I love this busyness” The adrenaline rush from a hurried life keeps us feeling alive to the point of it becoming an addiction. We reach the stage where we think that we cannot survive without frenetic activity. As a result our lives are so out of balance that our health and relationships suffer. We literally become physically and psychologically hooked on our hyperactive lives.
4. “I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.” Sometimes we are suffering from hurts from the past or unresolved psychological issues in the present. We then attempt to avoid the pain by keeping busy. Our family is falling apart so we compensate by turning our fellow workers into a family. As long as we distract ourselves and don’t allow ourselves to be quiet and reflective we think we can eliminate our suffering. But every attempt to run from our inner demons leads to an array of psychosomatic and interpersonal disorders.
However, to be fair, busyness is not always a bad thing. It can be productive when we are…
People may be busy for positive reasons.
1. The Drive to Make a Contribution. This impulse is seldom found in a person compensating for a felt sense of insufficiency. Rather, it comes from a vision of a deep human need, an innovative challenge to meet that need, and a sense of the significant contribution one can make in serving the greater good.
2. The Impulse of the Soul. In our heart of hearts, our very essence or soul, we are kind people with the impulse to do good. In order then for the soul to thrive it has to grow in the soil of personal awareness, balance, presence, and the practice of living as fully in the moment as we can.
3. The Sense of the Oneness of Everything. The more I travel and experience other cultures I sense that we have more in common with each other than the differences that often divide. It is these common bonds that drive us to ever be students of other cultures and celebrate common ties. The appetite for more of this oneness ennobles the human spirit.
Forces that arise from moving towards include contribution, soul, and oneness. Such are regenerative. They build us up and contribute in positive ways to others.
Activities driven by moving away, include the forces of the ego based on inferiority, greed, and addiction. These break us down, rob us of our vitality, and hurt others in the process.
Both forces are ever present in our lives. Both require that we stay awake to their presence, treat ourselves with compassion, be less judgmental of others, and require that we take intentional steps to feed the soul and starve the ego.
What have you done to manage your busy life?