Sometimes we need help to slow down
When we’re frantically busy – working long hours, doing everything for everyone else, or just keeping ourselves overly busy in our social lives – we often ignore how we’re feeling emotionally and physically until we fall into a big heap. Our head is down and we’re valiantly pushing through. But at what cost? Sometimes we need help to slow down because we’re afraid of the feelings when we stop. Sometimes we need help to slow down because there is an underlying fear that something bad will happen, or ‘I will be a bad person if I stop’.
I was reminded of this recently when I saw an ant crawling around my house…
The ant that carried too much
One night as I was going to bed, I noticed an ant in the bathroom, carrying a massive object above his head. The object was bigger than the ant itself. He was valiantly carrying it across my bathroom floor. At the time I remarked on how strong he was. I remembered that they can carry between 10 and 50 times their own body weight. Strong, resilient little dudes I thought.
However, the next morning when I woke up, I saw on my bedroom wall what looked like to be the exact same ant carrying the exact same object. This time he was halfway up my bedroom wall, walking towards one of the corners. He got to the corner and then had to turn around. He was on his own and clearly lost. He couldn’t see where he was going because of the large object he was carrying in front of his head. Yet he kept going.
Two things struck me:
That the little ant had been struggling all night to take that heavy load somewhere important. But he’d clearly lost the scent of the ant trail and he was lost. He was going nowhere fast.
Sometimes if you’re carrying such a heavy load, you cannot see where you’re going. You may need help to slow down or lessen that load.
How often have I felt like that myself?
When my life gets really busy there is no time or headspace for planning and making sure I’m headed where I want to be. Sometimes I’m even too tired for socializing with my friends or talking to family back home. I just push on – head down not really looking where I’m going. Why? Because I’m being the good girl. Because that’s what the good girl does. She’s the one that gets a lot done. She’s the one that looks after others. But at a personal cost… And I need reminding from my own therapist to know that it’s ok to stop. To prioritize my own self-care. That I’m still loved and accepted, even if I’m just working at 80%.
The false benefits of busyness
How many of us live our lives like this? Valiantly battling on with our heavy workload, raising children, looking after aging parents, dealing with illness, hobby commitments, study… We don’t even have time to look up and ask ourselves “Am I even going in the right direction?” Running on an increasingly empty tank. Why do we do this?
One ‘benefit’ of busyness is that we don’t have the time to really connect with how we’re feeling emotionally. We gloss over our heartbreak, sadness, or fears. We shove it down.
Secondly, as kids, we often make decisions that make our environment safer for ourselves. Being busy, helpful or useful keeps the environment safe. For some of us, we decided at an early age that we had to be the ones to mediate in family arguments; to rush around smoothing things over so that people don’t get loud or emotional, so that everything stays safe: ‘If I smooth everything over, then no one will get angry and scary”.
For others it was about receiving love and attention: “If I run around doing things for people, I will be loved and accepted, and no one will leave me”.
Life might be more enjoyable
But perhaps now as an adult, you no longer need to run interference or make sure everyone is OK. Perhaps you could let that go? What would life look like without those patterns?
Perhaps you no longer have to make a cake for every friend’s birthday. Maybe they treasure you just as you are.
What would you do with all that extra time and energy? What if you were to prioritize time for yourself for your hobbies, or your own self-care?
What if now is the right time to take the time to face how you’re really feeling about a situation instead of running yourself ragged?
Life might be more enjoyable if we put down some of that load. But we sometimes don’t feel like we could or should, without some big penalty. We need to know that it’s OK to do this and that we’re still a good person, still lovable, and still accepted.
That’s where I come in. To help you understand WHY it’s been so difficult for you to date, and then help you try out new behaviours and see if life gets a little lighter and more enjoyable.
Would you like some support to put down your busyness?
If you’re interested in investigating the origin of some of these patterns, and letting stuff go so that you can live a lighter, more fulfilling life, book in for a no-obligation 15-min discovery phone call, to see if we are a good fit for each other.