[aesop_audio src=”https://www.whatisdialogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Over-scheduled.m4a” loop=”off” viewstart=”off” viewend=”off” hidden=”off”]
I heard a story yesterday about a senior executive whose boss just fired him. As you can imagine, this manager was quite upset. The way in which he was terminated was distressing – even to me — and I wasn’t the one losing my job.
This gentleman revealed how hurtful the whole experience was for him. In the same breath, he also shared how his 27 year-old-daughter broke down crying when he told her the news about his termination. But she wasn’t crying because she was sad. She was crying because she felt joy and relief. She had been observing for many years how this job was affecting her father and was so grateful for his dismissal that she was brought to tears. Losing the job meant winning his life back.
I cannot tell you how often I hear from my clients about how insanely busy they are. They have demanding travel schedules. Their calendars are more than full. They work at the office. They work at home. When they are not working, they are busy with the family or entertaining friends. Running to the gym. Or the grocery store.
However more recently, I have been hearing something different. My clients are now telling me about their desire to have more time for reflection: “I don’t even have time to think.” This is refreshing. Especially given an article I recently read in the New York Times.
We have created a life of over.
At school we are overwhelmed. In business, we are overworked and over-scheduled. Personally, we are over-committed and overtired. We overuse our Smartphones and iPads. Our food is over-processed. The planet is overpopulated. We live a life of overindulgence and overabundance. The world in general has become overcomplicated.
We move from a life of over to life being over. Chronic busyness is killing us. We all know this at some level; yet we continue to stay busy. Why?
According to New York Times writer Kate Murphy and a surprising study that has created quite a stir in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, our busyness shows just how far we will go to avoid introspection. No Time To Think
“In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes. It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in a contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.”
In this same study, men and women would self-administer electric shocks when left alone to contemplate. In short, 64% of men and 15% of women would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts. Why? Because when left alone, “if you’re not intrinsically good at reflecting” you tend to dwell on what’s wrong. And that’s too hard. Especially for us humans who have “evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers”. What preys on our minds when we aren’t working, exercising, posting things on our Facebook page or playing with the kids are those things for which we have no immediate solution: “difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads.” And we don’t like that.
Okay. So that must be it. People say they need time to ponder, yet when I mention meditation or using the process of Dialogue as a way to slow things down, I tend to get more resistance than willing acceptance.
But you can’t solve problems if you don’t let yourself think. And if we don’t want to take time to think, resolving our worries is not the only think we’re missing out on.
With no time to reflect, you don’t create opportunities to release negativity. Not giving yourself time to think impairs your ability to have empathy with others. It also hinders your creativity. It reduces your productivity.
There are related health problems linked to chronic busyness like insomnia, depression and migraines.
And perhaps most importantly: your addiction to busyness probably means that you aren’t really living. You are simply existing.
Given all of this, I’d like to suggest that we add another “over” to the list: Overcoming our fear of slowing down.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join our mailing list to receive our weekly newsletter from our team.