How many times do you answer the question ‘How are you?’ with the response ‘Busy’. From my observation that word has been one of the most widely used ways to answer that question over the last few years. For this reason, it is worth unpacking ‘busy’ to explore what we actually mean.
In my world, ‘busy’ meant: Too much to do; too little time, too much stress, anxiety and, dare I say it, an element of resentment about what I had to fit into my day. When I searched a little deeper and asked more questions of myself ‘busy’ truly meant a way to avoid getting to know what I really wanted and to get to know the inner me. ‘Busy’ was a fence that I built between the outside and inside, it was rock solid and indestructible…or so I thought. Once I built that fence it was here to stay and that was the way of life. That fence kept me focused on the externality of life.
Being ‘busy’ as a tool can be helpful sometimes. It can take us away from things we don’t want to address, it can lead us to a path of living externally from our internal world — yet it can be a filter that leaves us unprepared when something stops us in our tracks — whether that be a pandemic which hits the globe without warning or an event that forces us to slow down. The result is the same; our fence is demolished. The unpredictability of these personal or global events can leave us inadequately prepared for the reality of what they bring. The solitude, time to think and realisation that the way life was is no longer (at least for a while) the way life is with no clarity as to how to be in this new world.
If being ‘busy’ is the only tool we have at our disposal for maintaining a fence between our inner and outer self and managing the uncomfortable and what we want to avoid, when it is smashed to smithereens what do we have left? What else is sitting there for that moment we are catapulted into our inner self, feeling vulnerable, unshielded and unnerved or ill at ease on our journey within?
Our Tool Kit of resources when those ‘out of our control’ unexpected events smash our fence and we are forced to go inside, lays empty. Our one and only tool is laying on the ground as a mess of rubble.
Our world directs us to living in a way that embraces ‘just in time’ efficiency, find a space to fill it, — that is productive, find something to do in those spare moments and you are living a full life, it is almost revered and people take pride in being the person known to get the job done. What’s that saying? “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person”.
But…… and here is the biggy it leaves little time to gently dismantle the fence and take that inner journey to discover and create more tools to help us during the tougher times.
In my life it is has not been a matter of ‘if’ an out of my control event would occur; it has been a matter of ‘when’. I just didn’t know what it would be, or how it would impact.
How will you increase your Took Kit of resources? What tools may be helpful? How would you go about finding new tools?
So here is how I started to gently dismantle my fence and create a bigger brighter Took Kit of resources to help navigate my inner world:
When I was drawn to a tool (and it could have been as simple as a breathing technique) I tried it out. If it felt light it was right for me, so I added it to my Tool Kit of resources.
I asked my trusted crew for how they managed difficult times and what tools they used.
I built my tool kit one tool at a time.