This is a continuation of my last blog or part 2. The idea of busyness and being addicted to frenzy really resonated with me among other things when I was listening to Dr. Shawn Ginwright on a podcast. I had to admit that I can let myself fall into this category though I do better than many. At least that is what I believe. I even found myself saying when asked, “How are you doing?”, “Good, but busy.” I had to ask myself what is this about?
This is the idea that many people are addicted to frenzy, it is about the need to be busy all of time. This may be a behavior you see in yourself or others. We all can be caught into this idea that somehow busyness is some important state as well as an expectation. It can be very noticeable in ourselves, co-workers, family, and friends.
Our culture and capitalism certainly reinforce the idea that we must be producing something to be of value. It is a lesson we all learn to a certain degree and that strong work ethic value. It starts in childhood. Now it is worse than years ago with kids now being overly scheduled every minute of their lives just like adults. There is a constant reinforcement all the time that we must be working or have something to do.
I remember working with people who create this state of constant busyness. They have the appearance that they are somehow working harder than everyone else. The truth often is they are either working the same as everyone else and sometimes even less than others. But they create frenzy around everything they are doing. Often it is acknowledged by supervisors and coworkers. It is even valued over everything else.
Frenzy Equal Importance
I’m not sure when busyness became equal to importance and wrapped into our self-worth. This has become the common belief. It is sometimes spoken but most the time it is this unspoken rule where we need to maintain some kind of busyness all the time. I think some people even create chaos around them to create this busyness persona around them.
This idea of busyness being wrapped into our self-worth is warped. It is quite weird when we think about it. Why is this so important to who we are? Why are we willing to put it above other things? Even when someone has a medical issue, they feel guilty they aren’t back to work. Why are we really willing to sacrifice health and our personal lives (marriages, friendship etc.)?
How Much Is Enough?
It feels like we all have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed to some degree. Just listen to how someone speaks about someone who decides to take a break between jobs or finishing school and getting a job. There can be a lot of judgement.
But how much is enough? Is 40 hours a week enough? For many the answer would be no. Many people believe they need to work more. I think we may work longer hours than many countries and it looks even worse when you compare paid holidays and paid vacations. It doesn’t end there. When we are not at work or working, we must be involved in other things. Must keep busy!
Can We Break Free
What can we do? We need to stop basing our self-worth on how many hours we work or how busy we are. We can only change this individually at least at first. I’m going to stop saying, “Good. but busy”. But then what? I will go back to what I said in my last blog to move back to my values and shift my days to be more aligned with my values.
We also need to embrace our self-compassion for ourselves and others to help shift this idea that busyness is some kind of value system, and we need to reduce how much frenzy we create. Truth be told if we work ourselves to death which many people do, we aren’t going to make a positive impact on our families, communities, or the world.
I would like to be able to say if someone asks me how I am, “Good, I have a wonderful, fulfilled and balanced life”. I may get some push back so maybe I will just say “Life is good. Thanks for asking.” I know having balance will bring me much more contentment and I will be able to make more of an impact on the world.
We all need to continue to do our own work. For me it is creating a space where my value is not based on how busy I am or how much I produce. It is shifting those beliefs. It might be learning to be guilt-free when I say to questions “What did you do this weekend?”, “Nothing.” or “I played, had fun, and rested.”
To Do List
My to do list will be about finding peace and joy. I will change it to be about getting enough sleep, resting, reading, learning, playing, hanging out with family/friends, and creating. It won’t be about checking things off my list of tasks or chores but just being present with what is happening in the moment and going with the flow.
It will be about me doing my personal inward work, being self-reflective, and having a better understanding of the why. Moving towards my values. Walking your why, as Susan David, would say is walking towards what is important to you. It is about embracing self-compassion and knowing my worth is not about how busy I am.
Giving Yourself Permission
We have to break the belief that we must work ourselves to almost death. Then, we will finally earn the right to rest if we just happen to make it to retirement in one piece. I have seen a lot of people who are close to retirement or just started their retirement when illness hits. If you are lucky enough to be able to recovery, learn to shift your priorities and still enjoy your life then you may still have time. But many people will never get to enjoy their retirement as they had dreamed. There are many more that die before they reach it.
How about we start shifting our beliefs about sleep, rest, work, and everything we think is expected of us. Our beliefs are based on a myth, and it is not good for our well-being. We need to decide what are we working towards and why is it we can’t reach it for another 30 to 50 years if we survive. It feels a bit like we have all been playing the hunger games and just didn’t know it.
My Final Note
For me this is an awakening of self-reflection and awareness. It is looking at my beliefs and the choices I make. How my choices will impact my health now and in the future. It all goes back to our own personal work. We can change behaviors once we understand the why behind them. Change does not come without self-reflection. I plan on making some shifts while I still have time.
photo by Ayo Ogunseinde
Side Note: This continuation from my last blog came out of listening to Dr. Shawn A Ginwright, PhD. on a podcast. I have started reading his new book, “The Four Pivots (Reimaging Justice and Reimaging Ourselves)” which take it to deeper dive and looks at it on a social and personal level. He looks at personal transformation, social changes and collective care.
Original Post March 17, 2022 on Karen Gentilman’s website Illumination Counseling Service.
Karen Gentilman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) practicing in the State of Idaho, working for 30 years with many different medical conditions both acute and chronic conditions, the last 20 years in neurological rehabilitation including brain injury, strokes and spinal cord injuries. She takes a trauma-informed, integrated and holistic approach with utilizing multiple modalities which is individually based while striving to provide compassionate therapeutic environment. Call (208) 266-4642 or email KarenGentilman@IlluminationCounselingService.com to set up a FREE 15-minute consultation. Visit Karen Gentilman’s profile page.