August 11 – Busyness

We workaholic perfectionists like to keep busy. It seems there is always something more for us to do. I know I am guilty of this… Have you ever found yourself working so hard to reach the end of your to do list, only to get there and find yourself anxious? Itching with unease, the urge to do something so strong as to be irresistible, we add more to our list simply so we have something else to do. We must stop and ask ourselves: When is the last time we allowed ourselves to truly do nothing? Even in our seeming moments of rest and quiet, we still usually find ourselves doing something—talking, eating, reading, thinking about our plans and the future. Our minds are always preoccupied with something of little importance. These preoccupations distract us and prevent our minds from the rest they need to achieve clarity. Our busyness keeps us from getting clear on life and our priorities. 

landscape photo of dark clouds

On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“What lengths we go to to keep away from ourselves! We have such an inability to relax. There are always just a few more tasks we can get done. Sometimes it almost seems that we are afraid of what might happen if we let our minds be ide for even a moment. We fill in every crack and crevice with activity. Sometimes, we even try to crowd two or more activities in at once, like making out a list of things that need to be done while we watch the news, or directing the activities of the kids while we are working on a report. 

We have become addicted to busyness, and if we are not busy we feel worthless, at a loss, and even frightened.”

Busyness is a distraction. It keeps us from ourselves and our thoughts, preventing any deep or meaningful analyses of our lives. If we don’t stop to rest, then maybe our insecurities, doubts, and those little niggling thoughts of self loathing won’t catch up to us. Maybe we can outrun them. If we don’t pay attention, perhaps they will eventually wither and die like a plant without water or sunlight. Unfortunately, this is just wishful thinking. The fact is we cannot escape who we are or how we feel about ourselves. The problems we face will follow us around regardless of how busy we are or where we go in the world. The only thing our busyness accomplishes, aside from wearing us down with exhaustion, is to temporarily distract us. We can’t keep this up forever. Staying busy has an extraordinarily adverse effect on our health and well-being over time. Recognizing the impact our busyness has on our lives and acknowledging that we alone are responsible for it is an integral step in our path to recovery and healing.

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