I don’t like the word “busy”. The weight of its energy sits in my guts. In the spirit of exploring how to stay out of nervous system shut down, I’m exploring this feeling of busy for myself. Not just how busy as an action feels, but “busy” as an idea of being. So there’s the common statement, we all use when asked how we are…”I’m just so busy” or sometimes its not even a statement, its this look of exhaustion as the eyes look upward and the body moves down in a slump with a sigh.
I get it. I get the reality of busy. It happens. I’m a mom, a business owner, a wife, a dog owner, and live in a town where it takes 30 minutes to drive 5 miles. Every phone call, text message, email and Facebook post seems to want to pencil in another task on my calendar. But I’m starting to get a new awareness, thanks to a good ole fashion, 3 month sabbatical from teaching. The crazy part is I felt busy before, but now as I have canceled most of my daily calendar it amazes me how life fills itself back in. I can still find myself to be busy or even worse, not busy and not knowing how to cope with that. So I’m examining this phenomenon. What comes up in my body when I think of being busy? Whats my payback to busy?
Well, first thing that comes up is when I identify as busy, it gives me a sense of self worth. Busy means I’m working hard, and I do what it takes to make it. At all costs, I am in survival mode and to survive means I am doing something important. Which this serves me at times, when I am building a business or raising a baby. But the flip side of that feeling is I’m in survival mode. My nervous system is firing off and nothing is regulated. I’m stressed and moody and it leaves me feeling lonely because “survival mode” isolates me. It keeps people from being able to help me. One my nose is to the grindstone, I’m resentful about it and no one knows where to jump into my crazy, to help. Its funny throughout the years of being in business for myself, the busier and more frantically I have worked myself, the harder it is to find staff to help. As I have gotten more aware and balanced, help has appeared, which has allowed me to expand and find balance in my life in other ways. But back to busy. Busy provides kickbacks…adrenaline, which is highly addictive.
Busy also is kind of an image. “Look at her she does it all. She’s so busy.” I mean part of that could be the accolades of looking busy. But part of that is a buffer. If I look busy, then they won’t ask much of me. Or I will have some sort of excuse to say no. Because its hard for me to say no just because I want to. Built in excuses of motherhood, business commitments etc. are way too convenient and become a way of isolating, and not honest.
And then there is the action of being busy. How does that feel in my body? Well at first it can be invigorating. A way to prove to myself my strength, commitment and determination. But overtime it gets exhausting for sure. The reason for this to me is that it usually tends to speed up frantic behavior (think: burning the candle at both ends). So my nervous system cranks up and my ability to be present drops dramatically. I can’t hear what people are saying to me, I resent being disrupted and get short with people that show up in my day. I start shutting down and hating life. Left over time, my body knows how to pull the plug, sickness sets in.
When I’m weening myself off this busy high, its tough. Big fears start to creep in like lazy, what do I do with myself and not knowing how not to obsess about surviving is a throbbing ache. Shifting out of busy takes a different kind of work. A willingness to let go of the driving force of busy. A willingness to let divine timing and even some grace, step in the center of my task.
I’m learning that my body is a large walking nervous system, and its feeling its way through my day. Words carry energy and busy is one of those words that sticks to my head space and automatically creates a state of being. In small doses slipping into busy is harmless but overtime seems to snowball into an array of self-destructive thought patterns that take a simple, very common phrase like “I’m busy” into dark places.
Does feeling busy really have a positive impact on my contribution to my community? I’m finding it does not. In fact, in slowing down, staying present, mindful and nurturing myself, I notice my creativity is up. The production of what I can offer has way more value and insight. I am listening more and more available to people that need my support. I am working on choosing what makes me busy and staying present to what boundaries make most sense for me to stay protected, even when I am “busy”.
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