Just about any human being I work with or have in one of my classes tells me that “busyness” and lack of time are to blame for much of their internal stress and churn.
Not. So. Fast.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this. You and I both know better than that. Let’s do this instead…
“Busy” has an energy about it.
Try it on. “I’m so busy.” “I’m so busy.” “OMG, I’m soooo busy.” Feel it. Say it. Be it. Notice what happens in your body. Ugh.
Of course, you can insert any energy that doesn’t serve you here: “It’s hard” or “It won’t work” are two of my favorites for sabotage, letting ourselves off the hook, and/or retreating when we’re scared.
Now take that energy to your colleague. To your kids. To your partner. Helpful?
It’s not your “fault”. It’s a default. A great place to rest. Awesome place to “check out”. But, back to busy…
Busy is a farce.
It makes us feel good. Important.
It gives us an excuse to say “no”.
It can hide our fear of confrontation or disappointing someone else.
It is a hiding place. A cop out. A scape goat. A self-fulfilling energetic prophecy. A reflection of our inability to say “yes” and “no” to the right things.
Busy is stressful. And it’s contagious.
Try it on for yourself. Think of your version of “busy”. Think of the story you tell about it. How often you tell that story. Who you tell it to.
The most dangerous person to tell that story to is of course… ourselves. The more we tell it, the more we believe it, the more we embody it. We become “busy”. Welcome to the swirl.
I watch this time and time again. I get to witness people say that the thing between them and their dreams is “busy”. The thing between them and being a good leader, getting more sleep, working out, taking care of their body, even eating good food, having a better marriage, giving feedback that could change a life, bringing in new business, whatever… is busy.
Busy has a lot of power. And what’s worst is that we feed it. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to “busy”.
What if it’s simpler than that? What if we could make busy our… friend?
What if busy was just a lack of presence, intention, and prioritization?
What if, you’re not actually busy? But rather missing presence, right here, right now, in the moment.
And what if this busyness and lack of presence is simply shading your clarity and wisdom for the right “yes’s” and “no’s”?
Breathe and think about it.
Presence and intention are the antidotes to busy.
Breathing heals busy.
A solid “yes” or “no” is worth a hundred foggy “yes’s”.
Perspective, priorities, and values clarify and tame “busy”.
When we actually befriend busy, we can take it apart and make it work for us.
“Busy” and “lack of time” are here to stay. We have to get better at leading our energy through them, telling the truth, valuing our time, and partnering with them. We have to get better at being present and intentional in our lives. And we have to listen.
I had a client years ago who was busy, busy, busy. So busy, people found it nerve racking to be around her. They didn’t want to engage with her. And they’d never ask her for direction or support – she had an energetic force field around her that said “Back off, I’m busy”.
When we drilled down to what her relationship was with “busy” – she found it was a protector for her. Being busy all the time kept her off the hook for having to say “no” and disappoint people who she didn’t want to hang out with or work with. It also made her feel important in her job. The problem was that she so bought into her story that she had fully embodied it. She spoke faster, wasn’t fully present with people, was experienced as unapproachable, and she didn’t feel good. Busy actually manifested itself in her physiology.
Once she got honest and clear about what busy was about for her, she was able to partner with it, instead of resisting it or using it as a “bat”. She did 3 things:
- She made a conscious effort to breathe in the moment and pay attention to her physical body. This was key. She also, in the moment, checked in with the truth… Was she going to die? Was she truly running out of time? Was a tiger going to get her if she didn’t get it done? (Ironically, these are often the physiological responses we have to the story of busy.)
- She made a conscious effort to be fully with someone when they were talking to her. Ironically it took the same amount of time, but without the resistance and internal chatter, it was easier and more enjoyable.
- She made a conscious (though difficult) decision to say NO to people when she didn’t want to do something. She held it as a YES to herself. Ironically, as hard as it was, it was so much cleaner to navigate it this way, that she felt physically and mentally better. The mental energy she’d spent, holding busy to avoid disappointed, was hers again. For the better.
- What is your relationship with busy? Be honest here. No one’s looking. This is for you.
- What does it give you? What does it keep you from?
- What are the three things – or even one – that you sense would help you create more space? (Intuition is good here, use it.)
- What are the, unnecessary – even draining, things that you participate in that contribute to your energy of busy? (Gossip, not telling the truth, avoiding conflict, working around people, television, procrastination, and not taking care of ourselves are just a few common ones.)
- Find a word that means something to your soul… If you were to replace the word or feeling of “busy” with this new word, how might that change things? For example: If you were “on purpose” instead of “busy” what would you do differently? If you were “engaged” instead of “busy” what would that do? There is gold in this question. Dig in.
What if you could tame your busy with some presence and intention? What if taking a step back, breathing, and being incredibly intentional with how you use your energy and time, were the solution to busy?
What if? What might you lose?
I’m not gonna lie and say that “busy” never creeps in for me, it does. But in those moments, when I get that visceral reaction, I’m quicker to turn to it, love on it a bit, get present, nurture what needs to be nurtured, say “no” where I need to say “no”, and step into intentional, delightful, full, and on purpose. By choice.