I was leaving my dance class this morning, and my dear friend asked me what I was up to today. I held up my hand in an 0 shape to signify nothing. I have no plans, I told her.
I immediately got in my car and thought about how I should have come up with a list of things that I was going to accomplish.
I thought to myself: who am I if I have nothing to do today?
(Side note, these thoughts dissolved within 5 seconds, after remembering my true self and how this friend of mine wants nothing more than to see me enjoy my no-planned days. She’s seen me through it all…true sisterhood we have, and I pray you have that in your life, too.)
The reason for this negative of who-am-I talk is that I’ve been nostalgic for a past time in my life, a time where I was way too busy and working a lot.
I find this nostalgia hard to understand because yes, I was making good money but I was at my most unhappy and unhealthy and uncreative time during this period I yearn for in my mind. Strange happenings, right?
I have been looking at this idea of busyness in our culture, but first I have been looking at it in my life.
I would wrap myself in busyness all day every day, because it shielded me from myself. I would wrap myself in busyness because I was avoiding true intimacy: with God, with myself, with my husband, with everyone. I would wrap myself in busyness because it made me feel important and needed.
Truth: I was hiding from my truest desire and calling to create beauty every day.
At this time in my life, I was addicted to being busy.
I only knew myself through the lens of busy. And once I lost that lens, by stepping away from work that was exhausting me, I lost myself a bit.
As I experienced this morning, I realized I don’t have to be busy to live and be worthy of my truest desires. I can experience where I am, right here and now, with presence and gratitude.
Spiritual teacher Sally Kempton writes about 2 ways to give yourself a check with you feel overwhelmed with busyness.* Ask yourself, is this external busyness or internal busyness? Meaning, is this a place or appointment you need to make sure to make (external) or a thought pattern that circulates in your mind even when you aren’t doing anything(internal). Just in asking yourself this question, you give yourself a pause and a break from your cycle.
My take is that internal busyness is the addicted side, the side of us that creates a groove around being busy that is so rigid, we can’t break free without serious practice and guidance.
In example, the internal busyness creeps in when you are free, but instead of breathing and looking out the window, your mind starts making lists all over the place of what to do next. Does this sound familiar to you?
Also, in this moment (of asking yourself is this an internal or external busyness), ask yourself, what are my truest desires? Knowing what you desire in your life helps your recognize God in all things, even the hardest and most contrary moments.
When asked about finding purpose and vocation the, Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin says:**
What are your deepest desires that moves you? Because I believe that your deepest desires, the things that you’re drawn to, the person you’re called to be, are really God’s desires for you. I mean, how else would God call us to something?
Let me repeat:
How else would God call us to something, if it’s not through your desires?
In reflection, being busy can be great at times, but it can also mask the higher power call in us all. This is especially true if our busyness is tied to removing ourselves from our greatest most creative gifts. As I said earlier, I used my busyness to be safe and stay small in my life. I used it to avoid my truest desire to make art and to be fully myself.
In summary, here’s what you can do if you feel addicted to being busy, and see it masking the most important parts of your life:
1. Stop and ask yourself whether you are internally or externally busy. Notice the patterns you hold around being busy, and be aware of what you are avoiding in your busyness.
2. Ask yourself what your truest desires are in the moment. Also, when do you feel the most alive and effortless in your life?
3. Trust your desires as God calling you toward your most creative self. Find God in all things, and in all things find your purpose.
Lastly, I am here to support you in your journey through and past the need to identify with busyness. With a full heart I understand this cult of busyness that we live in, and want you to feel creative freedom in your body and soul.
I want you to feel inner peace with where ever you are in your life.
Leave me a comment below on what steps you are taking to overcome your addiction to being busy. If you are interested in investigating your inner being and patterns, check out how I can guide you through my coaching to be your best, most creatively free self.
With desires for your creative freedom and staring out the window a lot,
* I read this in Sally Kempton’s article “Meditation for a Busy Life” published in Yoga Journal’s November 2009 issue.
** From an audio interview between Fr. Martin and Krista Tippet on On Being, Decemeber 2014.