Inside: Living a busy life can make it appear that we are living full meaningful lives, when we are really just using busyness to avoid authenticity. A slower pace of life offers healing and wholeness from the addiction to busyness. This is a guest post by Emma Scheib. The post contains referral links.
I have always been busy. Constantly on the go. It’s my default, the place I start from and the place I return to in order to feel okay.
Some of this busyness has been productive and meant I’ve achieved things. A Masters degree, various athletic accolades and a clean house.
But a number of years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, I hit a brick wall. Clean floors and dinner on the table meant an aching pelvis. A 9 hour work day meant I hadn’t had time to check in with myself, or my family.
That pace wasn’t sustainable. And the thought of keeping up with that after our next baby arrived filled me with dread.
So I began to seek slow. A slower pace of life that focused on the essentials and made time for deepening of relationships, rather than how things looked on the surface.
HOW I FOUND HEALING AND WHOLENESS IN A SLOWER PACE OF LIFE
Years later, I find myself still falling into the busy trap. It’s an addiction. Busy is my number one choice of drug for numbing my emotions and pain. A busy life means I don’t have to deal with my baggage. But slowly I’m chipping away at my dependence on busy and learning to lean into a life that feels authentic.
I confronted the baggage behind my busy life
Everyone has different baggage. My circumstances have meant my bags are full of trauma.
The acknowledgement and healing of trauma is hard and takes up a lot of space in my life. It’s simultaneously freeing and exhausting.
To finally know what has been the cause of severe anxiety, and an eating disorder (amongst other problems) feels like freedom. I know why I behave and react the way I do.
And it’s utterly exhausting. The deep complex childhood trauma is etched into my being and it’s stubborn. I take a step forward, and three back.
I fall into busy, and then choose healing again.
Sifting through the bags, sorting out what I can keep and what needs to go.
I’m learning To Slow Down and let go of these 3 things
There are a few things I am learning to let go of to support my healing journey and in pursuit of a slower pace of life.
This is the number one thing that must go to make way for the work of healing.
I use busyness like a bandaid, covering the cracks and wounds. But all this does is create deeper scars. Working 24/7 doesn’t allow for true healing.
To heal well, I must get silent. I need clear space on my calendar to support attending regular therapy, and to do ‘homework’ outside of these sessions.
And I need to quiet the voices of others (social media/netflix/podcasts) so that my own voice can speak to me.
A fast, hurried pace increases my anxiety and overwhelms me. I need less in my life so I can go slower.
2. Other people’s opinions
The cliche is true, at least for me. The older I get, the less I care about what other people think of me. When I asked myself why this statement was true for me, the answer was surprising.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care for other people’s opinions, or thought they were wrong (although sometimes they are!). I think unless we are 100% void of an ego we will always be concerned to some level what others think of us.
What I realized is that I trust myself more now. I trust my inner voice, my intuition, my god-space. And this grounds and centers me more than outside voices, opinion or influence.
An example of this is my current faith journey. I am constantly warding off worry that my local church community gossip that I’m ‘backslidden’. And this isn’t completely misguided anxiety. There are well intentioned comments and whispers.
But, my journey is beautiful and wonderful and most importantly one that fully supports my journey to healing.
So I trust myself, my inner voice that’s guiding my own journey, and let the whispers fall at my feet.
3. My reliance on myself
I frequently describe myself as fiercely independent. As an adoptee I had to be. I was alone in this world for 10 days and have felt alone for most of my life.
I have tried to turn this into a strength by being independent. Thwarting off any reliance on others (in case it was taken away from me again).
And although I am introverted and love alone time, this doesn’t mean long term isolation and independence are helpful for me.
My fierce independence is a trauma response.
We are meant to live in community with others and I need other people’s strengths to help my healing journey.
I needed my friend to make a remark the other day, as I passively-aggressively commented on how I’d been in the kitchen all day, that she didn’t see the chore chart for the kids.
And I need the wisdom of other friends who ignore my refusal of help and turn up with dinner or baking anyway.
I replaced busy and frantic with intentional and slow
Without all this busyness and constant doing, there’s a big hole and my baggage is lighter.
Instead of defaulting back to busy to fill that gap or mend that wound, I am intentionally choosing some things that will better support my healing journey in this slower pace of life.
- Space. Instead of rushing to fill the gap with something, I find it helpful to take a little time to fill it with nothing. For me this means purposefully taking silent time. Not constantly filling my head with podcasts or audiobooks. It also means making space in my day for nothing to happen. Because this is an incredibly hard concept for me to grasp, I find that active meditation is the best way to do this.
- Journaling. I don’t have a particularly regimented or regular practice of journaling. But my favorite way to do it is bullet style journal, in bed at night, with pen and paper. It’s incredibly helpful to calm my brain by bookending my day with this. I simply write down the three most important things I need to do the next day, and three things I noticed or was grateful for that day. If I am particularly wired I will do a big brain dump and make my list of three important things from that.
- Being in nature. There’s something deliciously unhurried about nature. I have always felt safe in large open spaces, as if nature knows what to do with me. It doesn’t demand deadlines or throw to-do lists or keep track of time. It flows, steady and calm. I have to have regular immersion in nature because it helps to regulate my nervous system. It soothes the flight/fight tendencies and offers stillness in their place.
This journey is harsh and wonderful and everything in between. Busy will ebb and flow and slowly fade. Healing will come. Nature will find its place within me and settle down for good.
I don’t know what baggage you have or what your story is, but I know you have one. Perhaps you have a tough journey of healing ahead of you too. The majority of us have some form of healing to do.
I don’t have much advice to offer you, except the one thing that’s helping me the most. Letting go of being so damn busy.
I encourage you to embrace some sort of stillness and resist the constant hurrying through life. This is where you’ll find healing that will last a lifetime.
Bio: Emma Scheib is a mom, writer, and lover of all things slow and simple. Her blog, Simple Slow Lovely, helps people live a slower, simpler, and intentional life, based on their values. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.