Busyness. It seems to be the cultural norm these days. Between the demands of work and basic family life, we also need to balance kid activities, finding time for own fitness, and then there is food shopping, laundry, food prep, house cleaning, pet care, personal development, precious girlfriend time…I feel like I’m forgetting something??!! I’m sure we can all add at least one more demand to the above list which throws us over the proverbial edge of sanity! How do we do it all?? Is it any wonder we veg out to Netflix some nights (or even days!)??? For those of you that feel like you have found a way to kind of keep it in balance, you’ve probably discovered that when we accept the fact that the key to balance, is recognizing that we are always in a state of imbalance. Something will always be out of balance…Life is just so busy and if it isn’t, well, we tend to feel like something is wrong with us!
There’s a saying in church circles that goes something like this…
“If the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy”
The first time I heard that it stopped me dead in my tracks. The reality of all my competing priorities and the demands on my “to-do” list was making me spin constantly throughout the day. I felt constantly distracted during the day and completely drained at the end of the day. Add to it, the “shame game” many of open ourselves up to…because successful people are supposed to read books and listen to podcasts and put time into their future every day…and I just had no time for that. So I knew something was off, but what was it?
1. Were my priorities wrong?
2. Was I simply too disorganized?
3. Was I too undisciplined?
4. Was I too lazy or unmotivated?
So, what did I do? I bought books I intended to read. I purchased “coaching” programs that would help me be more productive and just “do more”. I made lists of my lists….I woke up earlier and stayed up later making sure my priorities were marked off the list every day. I figured I had become more productive because I was getting more done! I became a multi-tasking Queen!! Cool, right? WRONG. I lost every bit of myself in that process of proving I was productive and didn’t even know what I was producing in my life besides stress, anxiety and a ton of shame every day I missed the mark Talk about misguided good intentions.
I had lost the ability to have a meaningful and engaging conversation. I forgot what good food tastes like because I was eating on the fly. I felt disconnected from my friends because I was connecting more on social media in “mass” doses to people. And sometimes, I even mistook my facebook connections as my real friends! It’s just not the same. I had zero time for myself and as a result, felt constantly drained of energy.
Anyone else ever feel like that? In part or in whole? It usually takes some kind of drastic break or turn of events to wake us up. In my case, it was losing a job due to company restructure. All of my identity had been wrapped up in what I did and who everyone thought I was; until it wasn’t there anymore. And all that remained was open space…a white page. And I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to put on the page. all of a sudden there was nothing but silence…and a lot of it!
If I’m honest, it was insanely uncomfortable for a while. It takes time for us to learn how to sit in silence and not feel lonely. Fast forward 4 years and I can’t function without daily silence in my day. I cherish it. It gives me more satisfaction than crossing off an item on my to-do list. I encourage everyone to find opportunities to dial up the silence and offer you these ideas as ways to get started. The basic rule is that there are no rules. Some folks call it meditation – I don’t really care what you call it – it’s just about breathing and drawing yoru attention inward.
- Start small. Even 5 minutes is a great target because silence can be deafening at first! I encourage you to build momentum with small wins.
- Don’t attach an outcome to it. Just sit for the appointed time and be grateful for the self-indulgence. See what comes up for you…I suspect you might be pleasantly surprised.
- It can be done anytime and anywhere. Your car…your closet..in the shower/bathtub!
- Remember it’s tough to quiet your mind..expect distraction and quietly turn your mind back to silence. maybe have a pen and paper nearby – when I journal and pray, I find my mind starts to weave in my to-do list – the best way to combat that is to keep something nearby where I can jot those thoughts down and tell myself I don’t have to remember it anymore.
- I am musically inclined and find that soft music in the background actually helps. The TV? Not so much:)
- This isn’t selfish…this is actually selfless in that it fills your tank and allows you to be more available for the people you love!
I’d love to hear how this goes for you, so please drop me a line here in the comments below! There is much to be found in the quiet places we provide our heart and soul to breathe. I wish you a bountiful harvest!