Reasons for busyness and how to overcome compulsive doing

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With the advent of modern conveniences like dishwashers and other household time savers, pundits predicted we’d have more leisure time on our hands. Hence, less busyness.

But, since then we’ve only become busier and leisure time more scarce. People work longer hours and take fewer vacation days. And technology has only increased our capacity to work longer hours and remotely.

Some say our insistence on overworking comes from a desire for status. Saying you’re busy indicates you’re important and sought-after in this world.

While that may be true, I believe busyness has a deeper purpose. It distracts us from the truth that our lives are not where we want them to be.

Busyness distracts us from the truth that our lives are not where we want them to be. Click To Tweet

I’ve already written about my belief that working harder doesn’t reap greater rewards. We have the 4-hour work week to prove that longer hours do not always produce success.

So why have we insisted on staying busy in spite of the time-saving devices and evidence that it doesn’t correlate with success?

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

1. We’re afraid to stop our busyness

Have you noticed the slight shame you feel when someone asks what you’re doing today and you say, “not much”. Even in the middle of a pandemic?

That’s society’s way of stopping you from taking time to go within and find out what lights you up. Even after all the work I’ve done to stop mindless busyness, I feel guilty rather than proud when someone asks if I’m busy and I say “no”.

2. We don’t know our innate worth

You may have been raised in a family that valued hard work. People were not loved for who they were but what they did.

You may have been programmed to believe that only lazy people take breaks or all their vacation days. And you think “lazy” is the worst thing a person can be.

This fear of appearing less than hard-working keeps you slogging away. Even when the extra work fails to deliver additional results or income.

3. There’s a payoff for busyness

Have you noticed when you complete a task or reach a goal you feel a celebratory rush? But it doesn’t last so you jump back on the treadmill towards the next goal.

It’s important to have goals for how you feel apart from any achievement. Let’s challenge the belief that feeling good only comes as a reward for reaching a target.


How to stop being so busy

Schedule down time into your calendar. Actually pencil in time for yourself where you’ll do self care activities or absolutely nothing.

Acknowledge your emotions. We use busyness as a distraction from negative feelings. But those feelings carry important information about our lives. They tell us what we need and what to change.

We use busyness as a distraction from negative feelings. But those feelings carry important information about what needs to change. Click To Tweet

Learn to sit still. Set a timer and let your thoughts roam. Or journal for ten minutes. Give yourself the time and space to simply sit alone and let yourself be.

You’ll be amazed at what comes up. Time alone to let your thoughts and feelings free can reveal huge gaps between your true desires and how you’re living life.

Connect with spirit. For me, that’s God. For you, it might be a higher power or something else that connects you to a source beyond yourself.

You can find this connection in nature, reading the Bible, prayer and meditation. It’s a reminder there’s something bigger than you, you’re not alone, and all this worldly scrambling is less important than we think.

How to adopt abundance mindset and lose the scarcity one

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I am not a materialistic person so this is not one of those articles on how to think yourself into a Ferrari. Neither am I an expert or life coach. The following is simply my experience going from scarcity to abundance mindset and how it worked for me.

Growing up, I had to take care of myself financially from an early age. My father put a roof over my head, but I had to work for everything else starting in high school. This was common in the neighborhood where I grew up.

At 18, I left home and worked my way through university. While many of my cohorts received free tuition, room, and board, courtesy of mom and dad, I worked long hours to cover tuition, rent and grocery bills.

As a result, I developed a scarcity mindset around money. Throughout most of my life, I stuck to a strict budget and felt panicky any time I treated myself to anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

But this mentality kept me poor. Even when I had money it felt as though it wouldn’t last. Rather than thinking about how to increase my income, my default setting was to save and scrimp on what I already had.

To me, money was a finite resource. It did not grow on trees (the famous saying of poor parents) and there was no more where that came from.

How I went from scarcity to abundance

Things changed, however, when I made the decision to invest in my personal growth through seminars and courses. Almost overnight, my scarcity mindset became replaced by an experience of abundance.

Now, instead of waiting until I have gobs of money before spending some on myself, I trust that more money is coming. As a result, splashing out on a dinner, vacation, outfit, or course no longer makes me want to crawl into a corner and clutch my stomach.

Here are 3 ways I learned to move from a scarcity to an abundance mindset.


1. Find the lesson

Rather than thinking of experiences as good or bad, they became learning experiences. That’s different from the toxic positivity of pretending things are great when they’re not.

It’s taking disappointments in life and making them opportunities for personal growth. It’s the knowledge that failure is simply a step on the road to success.

That makes it easier to get up when you’re down. It makes you more creative in your approaches to work and life, and helps you see more possibilities.

2. Value yourself to encounter abundance

If you refuse to spend money on yourself, you’re telling yourself you’re not worth it. Feeling like you’re not worth it will repel rather than attract abundance to you.

I used to believe I valued myself by saving money and maintaining financial security. While financial responsibility is important, it’s harmful when accompanied by feelings of deprivation and lack.

Learning to treat myself as a woman of value increased my confidence and made me believe I deserved more out of life. As a result, more came my way.

3. Stop thinking money has to be earned

Working for pay is only one way to receive money. In fact, I’ve heard jobs with regular paychecks described as living on a fixed income (like welfare). Those words freed me to think differently about income sources.

Expecting to receive a fixed amount will ensure you never receive more. But if you open your mind to the possibility that money comes from unexpected places, don’t be surprised if you open your mailbox to find a check.

How to get what you want out of life

get what you want
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Traditional advice on how to get what you want out of life says, “work hard”. That may be true for some, but for me less effort has produced more results.

Perhaps it’s the work smarter not harder model. Or maybe it’s because doing what you love feels less like work than slogging away at something that fails to fulfill.

Sometimes we’re devoting time and resources to a dream that’s misaligned with our values. We don’t know ourselves well enough and pursue something based on factors outside ourselves.

These 7 tips on how to get what you want out of life will help discern if you are following the right dream in the first place.

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

1. Put yourself first to get what you want

Are you a self-abandoner who puts other people first? Maybe you got the impression as a child that your needs don’t matter.

You’ve internalized that lie and now devote your time to filling other peoples’ needs instead. But until you learn to put yourself and your needs first, you’ll never get what you want out of life.

2. Pay attention to your body

As the famous book says, The Body Keeps the Score. If you have unexplained ailments, they may indicate you’re on the wrong track in life.

As the famous book says, The Body Keeps the Score. If you have unexplained ailments, they may indicate you're on the wrong track in life. Click To Tweet

When I lived in a suburb I hated to be near my children’s school and their father, I had multiple skin issues like rashes and discoloration that were painful, irritating, and unsightly.

These plagued me for years. As soon as I moved to the neighborhood of my choice and began to prioritize my needs, my skin cleared in a miraculous way.

3. Let go of what people think

More often than not, living an authentic life means going against the grain of your culture. Consider whether what other people want is good for you.

They don’t have to be enemies to want what’s bad for you. They may be operating out of fear for you. But fear is a terrible place from which to build dreams.

4. Do more of what you love to get what you want

Many of us fill our days with obligations and things that bring us no joy. As we become responsible adults, we forget how to have fun. Some of us never learned how because of our terrible childhoods.

Now is the time to get to know your likes and dislikes, maybe for the first time. Take time to journal all the things that make you feel most like yourself. The things that make you lose track of time as you get lost inside them.

Do more of those things and you will get more of what you want out of life.

5. Consider what frustrates you

Beverly Cleary started writing because she couldn’t find any books that appealed to the kids she encountered as a librarian.

Is there something that frustrates you by its absence? Or a traditionally accepted approach that seems limited or erroneous to you?

For example, this blog is inspired by my frustration over common self-help advice that ignores the role of childhood trauma in self-sabotaging behavior.

6. Receive support to get what you want

Are you surrounded by friends and family who are afraid of change and act out of fear? If the majority of your circle are naysayers or you feel uncomfortable sharing your vision with them, that’s a problem.

If the majority of your circle are naysayers or you feel uncomfortable sharing your vision with them, that's a problem. Click To Tweet

Spend more time with people who have similar goals and dreams. People who know change is essential to a fulfilling life. And who aren’t afraid to pursue their path, no matter how unconventional.

7. Face fear of change

Maybe it’s you who fears change! That’s a common human denominator and nothing to feel ashamed about. The key to get what you want out of life is to feel the fear and do it anyway.

How to be more playful in life and relationships

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As we grow into adulthood and our responsibilities increase, we forget how to be playful. Many experts tell us to remember what we loved to do as children to retrieve that playfulness.

But if childhood was hard or traumatic you may not recall much joy. I had to go back to age three to remember what I loved to do before my parents tamped down my free spirit.

That was the age when I tried to get my mother’s attention while she talked on the phone. Without warning, she slapped me hard across the face.

I internalized the message that attention seeking was dangerous and did my best to avoid it after that. I turned down countless opportunities to shine because of my fear of being noticed.

Such incidences impact us in ways that feel indelible. But there are still ways we can, as adults, let the little child inside us out to play.

Here are 5 simple ways to be more playful in life and relationships.

1. Dance

You don’t have to be a trained dancer to turn on a playlist and move around your living room.

Dancing is a fun form of fitness and doesn’t require any special routine or talent. Just groove to the music.

2. Gamify

My daughter, an Enneagram 7, makes everything into a game. That’s why she’s never bored.

Once, while we were out on a mundane shopping trip, she told her sister they were going to play the sitting down game. That meant any time they saw a chair they had to sit down in it!

2. Incorporate novelty (new experiences)

This could mean taking a different route on your daily walk or drive to work. Or grabbing an ice cream cone on the way home.

Take a cooking class. Learn to play an instrument. Study art history. All these (and more) can be done online.

3. Wear something playful

Have you been dressing to blend in when you want to stand out? Put on something sparkly or outrageous like a feather boa or tiara.

4. Do something outside your comfort zone

How about a karaoke night? Or improv classes. These increase confidence and flexibility because they offer endless positive feedback and you can’t make a mistake (“yes, and“).

5. Watch silly animal videos

Go to YouTube and search up funny cat or dog videos. Hamsters running on wheels are also guaranteed to make you laugh.

How to open up and be more vulnerable in relationships

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Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt scared to open up and be vulnerable? When you expressed your feelings, the other person shut you down.

Or maybe you were the one who iced someone out when they shared their inner life. Your fear of intimacy made it impossible to accept their invitation to draw closer.

Why do we struggle to be vulnerable in relationships? And how do we overcome the fear of exposing ourselves this way? Here are 6 ways.

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

1. Get curious about why you struggle to be vulnerable

Have you stopped to consider where you learned that it’s dangerous to let people in? Maybe your parents discouraged open and honest communication.

If so, you associate emotional honesty with danger and have closed off from being vulnerable in relationships. Since your parents rejected your emotional needs, you equate emotions with distance not closeness.

Since your parents rejected your emotional needs, you equate emotions with distance not closeness. Click To Tweet

You have adopted an insecure attachment style which makes it difficult to let others into your emotional world. But with some work, you can earn a more secure attachment style and get that emotional intimacy we all crave.

2. Take baby steps

Start by reciprocating when someone shares their emotional world with you. That doesn’t mean dumping all your feelings on someone else.

But after listening to them, take the risk to share something that feels vulnerable to you. Sharing intimacies is how people draw closer together. You’ll find they respect your courage to open up.

If people pull away from you in relationships, it could be they’re not experiencing a deep enough connection with you. Once you start sharing more of your feelings, relationships go to another level and people trust you more.

3. Know yourself.

Take time to understand your wants and needs so you can express them. Knowing who you are and what you want helps you set healthy boundaries and establish clear communication.

4. Understand your values.

Do you know what’s important to you in life? Not everybody values open and honest communication. If that matters to you, you’ll spend time with people who share those values.

5. Choose yourself when being vulnerable

The choice to be vulnerable should come from a need to be seen and heard for who you are. Choosing yourself means you will never abandon yourself even if someone else does.

Choosing yourself means you will never abandon yourself even if someone else does. Click To Tweet

You might fear rejection but if it comes, you’ll never reject yourself. You support and praise you for the courage it took to be open and vulnerable.

6. Let go of the outcome

Most times when you express vulnerability you will get positive feedback. The other person will draw closer to you and reveal their own soft spots.

But in some cases, the other person will not take well to you opening up. Their own fears of intimacy and attachment issues will make them react badly to your attempts to show up fully.

If the outcome of expressing yourself is not what you’d hoped, take heart. This is not about you but about them. And it’s important information and a huge opportunity for growth.

Do you want to be in a relationship with someone who rejects you when you’re most vulnerable? Are they willing and capable of change? If not, look back at #5 and choose yourself.