Our theme of productivity continues this week. I think a key thing most of us overlook in this day and age is the acceptance of the need to constantly be moving and the need to be connected. Before we get too far, I want to note that I think connection is incredibly important—as long as it is the right type of connection. But it is not normal to constantly be on. We are not meant to be alert and at attention 24/7/365. We need downtime and we need internal connection, connection with nature, connection with people. We’ve lost the ability to separate time and the ability to focus on one thing at a time. We move too fast and try to do too many things at once thinking we need to accomplish everything or we need this constant state of busyness. We don’t know how to slow down and focus and savor and plan. We lose track of what we are meant to do. This nostalgic idea of going back to childhood when in reality it is trying to create safety. I’m not sure if I truly ever was safe and I know that led to control issues—I digress.
I notice this in my 9-5 the most. I’ve mentioned before that my job covers multiple unrelated areas and I’ve also mentioned my struggle to navigate between them on a daily basis. The brain isn’t meant to switch and pivot more than it’s in a state of focus. Setting that as an expectation is a recipe for failure. We are not machines and the fact that our computers, tablets, and phones are able to have multiple tabs open and shift with a click does not mean that we are able to do the same thing. And honestly, all of that tech needs to shut down every now and then as well. You give your phone a break, you charge it every night, if there are too many apps open you close them. We have forgotten and willingly given up the fact that we are human for the sake of an extra hour of time behind a desk.
I notice this in conversation with nearly everyone as well. We can’t have a conversation about one thing or it’s at least very rare to be able to focus to long enough to get a point across. We also have this expectation that people will automatically understand what we have to say and that we don’t need to explain anything. I wrote about that earlier this week as well—I felt that struggle myself as I placed the expectation on my teams that they knew what I meant. I felt the same expectation placed on me as well from my boss and coworkers. There is so much pressure on us, both self-created, societal, peer to peer, and in relationships that we don’t even realize that we are placing our unmet needs on the shoulders of everyone around us.
We do this distraction technique more often than not because there are often feelings we don’t want to acknowledge. Even if we can’t place our fingers on it, chances are we are feeling something we don’t want to work through. There is pain and anger and things we forget because we can’t keep it in our minds so we find any and every way to distract ourselves. I’m guilty of that. I mentioned in the first paragraph looking for safety. I faced loss early in my life and my siblings being older than me meant they left me early. School was easy but forming friendships was not. I relied heavily on my parents and the times I remember feeling the best were with them. I remember always being able to count on them. They were my source and my friends and I was happy to be the same for them because they were constant. Trying to numb the lack of security I feel now along with the latent feelings of loss as a child means doing things to keep me away from what I need to.
Finding safety means slowing down enough to do one meaningful thing at a time. It means recognizing that we are safe enough to do one thing at a time and we don’t need to rush through anything. Rushing through life won’t get us further from what already happened. The only thing that can do is get us further from where we want to be. Keep centered and trust you know what is best for you. Set boundaries and limits and learn to disconnect from the constant connection and the expectation that you will always be available. We do not owe anyone unlimited access to our energy and it is up to us to set that limit in spite of how quickly things move. We are entitled to our space and to refill our cups as much and as often as necessary. It’s only when our cups run over that we can sufficiently share with others without depleting ourselves. Let’s create some new expectations and use our capacity for good.