Busyness. Why are we (and by we, I mean ME) so addicted to it?
Why do we feel like we have to constantly be busy as a way of proving our personal worth or justifying our right to exist?
We juggle careers, families, social obligations, volunteer work and a myriad of other things–all for the sake of feeling like we are “good enough” or in the hopes that others will take some kind of notice of our accomplishments. We feel as though being “busy” somehow proves just how important we are and we wear our exhaustion like it’s some kind of twisted badge of honor.
Why do we do this? What exactly do we get as a result of all of this busyness?
For me, the answer is exhaustion, burn out, frustration and overwhelm.
I am blessed to be a naturally high-energy person, and yet there are still times when I find myself wiped out (sometimes even to the point of physical illness) from going a few too many rounds on the hamster wheel of life. I’ve learned the hard way that burning the candle at both ends simply means that you burn out a whole lot faster. Fortunately, I’ve also learned (out of a desperate fight for self-preservation) that there are ways to combat this insidious culture of busyness. The sanity saving strategy that works best for me when things get a bit too chaotic is to step back and create space in six key areas of my life: my physical environment, my relationships, my emotional health, my thought-life, my finances and my spirituality.
By making the effort to create space in my life, I not only prevent the inevitable physical and emotional collapse that too much busyness precipitates; I also create an environment in which creativity, connection and serendipity can work together to bring about greater opportunities in my life. I am confident that the same will hold true for you.
Creating Space for Fab-YOU-lousness
Physical Environment: Take a look around. Do your physical surroundings energize and inspire your or do they drain you? What things are you holding onto that you no longer need or that no longer serve you? Often, our outer environment is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. If our surroundings are disorganized and chaotic; there’s a good chance that our inner being is experiencing the same kind of turmoil. Go through your closets and get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in the past year (take your cast-offs to a thrift store or nonprofit organization so that others can benefit from your purging). Tidy up the desk in your office. Pick up the clothes on your bedroom floor. Do whatever you have to do to transform your physical space from chaos to calm. Make an effort to create your own personal oasis within your home.
By eliminating the clutter from our personal environments, we create space for positive energy and creativity. By only possessing items that we truly love and giving away the things that no longer serve us, we allow ourselves more freedom to truly enjoy our possessions while also blessing others with the things that we no longer want/use.
Relationships: Do you enjoy heartfelt connections with people who honor, love and value you? Do the people in your life lift you up and encourage your goals and aspirations or do their negative attitudes drain you of your energy and enthusiasm? Sometimes eliminating chaos in our lives means eliminating (or at least limiting) our connections to certain people.
As difficult as it may seem to create space within our relationships–it is vital for our emotional well being and it frees us up to invest more time and energy into those relationships that are edifying and honoring to our spirits. Sometimes, we may even need to inject a little space into a relationship that is supportive and nurturing simply because we need to allow ourselves a bit more alone time. This is nothing to feel bad about or apologize for. Those who truly know us and love us will support our efforts to create a culture of calm as an antidote to the chaos of our busyness.
Emotional Health: How do you feel today? Whether we like it or not, emotions drive the majority of our thoughts and actions (this is especially true for women); therefore, it is important that we become emotionally intelligent and learn to manage our emotions so that they don’t get out of control and take up too much space within our psyches. It is essential that we learn to recognize emotions for what they are–gauges of well being and indicators of possible distress. There is nothing wrong with feeling our emotions–it is healthy to do so. The problem comes when we allow our emotions (which are not always logical or even based in reality) to spin out of control and take up more space in our lives than is necessary or healthy.
When I am consumed with busyness, I am at the greatest risk for losing a grip on my emotions. At times like these it is especially important for me to create space within my emotions by learning to observe them, feel them, allow them to flow through me (rather than taking up residence) and then use them to create new, more positive actions.
Thought Life: What do you spend your time thinking about? Are your thoughts positive and productive or do you have a negative tape that constantly runs through your mind with thoughts of lack, stress, frustration and overwhelm? The problem with an undisciplined thought life is that left unchecked, negative thoughts can blow up and squeeze out any positive thoughts that we might have. Not only that–negative thoughts also tend to be completely unproductive thoughts that rarely resolve anything and instead just perpetuate more negative thoughts.
Don’t let unruly, negative thoughts get the best of you. T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (Harper Collins, 2005) says that “what you focus on expands”. This is why it is so crucial that we train our minds to focus on positive thoughts. We want our positive thoughts to expand so that we create space in our minds for intellectual stimulation and creative engagement.
Finances: How do you use your money? Are you making the most of your hard earned dollars and being mindful with your resources? Or…do you have a mountain of debt that has left you feeling stuck and hopeless? Whether we like it or not, money is energy and our feelings about our money (or lack thereof) take up a lot of emotional and mental space.
If you are spending too much time and energy fretting about how you are going to pay the bills, it is time for you to take the necessary steps to create some space in this area of your life. Whether it is setting up a budget, tracking your expenses, hiring a financial planner or simply cutting back on your cable bill; creating space in this area can alleviate so much unnecessary stress and thereby open you up to more abundance and a sense of security.
Spirituality: Do you feel a connection to a Higher Power? Do you make time to practice your spirituality? Sometimes when I am experiencing a true crisis of busyness I tend to let my own personal spiritual practice fall by the wayside even though I know that it is precisely the thing that I need to once again create space and restore balance in my life.
Whether you attend worship service, pray, meditate, chant, read scriptures, sing songs etc., it is this connection to something bigger than ourselves that can provide refreshment to our souls and cultivate an inner peace. Creating space to nurture our spirits will open us up to greater understand and tranquility. It will also help us to hone our powers of intuition, recognize divine guidance and experience truly peaceful rest.
Once we take the steps to create some space in our hectic and chaotic lives, we will begin to understand that busyness is nothing but a symptom of a larger, more pervasive problem within our culture and that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive (like that hamster in the hamster wheel–always in motion but going nowhere). Creating space will allow us the time and perspective to make conscious and mindful choices about what we devote our time and energy to. It will allow us room to grow a life that is truly FabYOUlous.