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 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.

What’s decision fatigue and how to combat it’s tiring effect

decision fatigue
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Decision fatigue increases throughout the day with each new decision you have to make, It’s the act of growing tired of navigating life’s choices and the consequences are startling.

Decision fatigue makes you more likely to pick up a candy bar in the checkout line. And studies show that as the day goes on, we make riskier and more rash decisions.

On the flip side, if you’re more avoidant you may make no decision at all.

Both outcomes have negative affects on our lives. Worst of all, they make us doubt ourselves, feeling shame over our poor or non-existent decisions.

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

Knowing how to avoid decision fatigue will improve your choices. Best of all, it will raise your self-respect and sense of competence.

Here are 9 ways to reduce decision fatigue.

1. Plan your meals.

Knowing in advance what you’ll make for dinner reduces decision fatigue at the time when it’s worst. Late in the day and while hungry are the least optimal times to make decisions.

2. Keep standing appointments.

Make the next doctor or dentist appointment when you’re leaving the office.

Have set days and times when you exercise instead of deciding each day whether or when to do it. Refusing to pencil it in could be the biggest reason we neglect our commitment to work out.

3. Eat at the same time to avoid decision fatigue.

Having set meal times simplifies life. You could even eat the same breakfast or lunch each day. Then use your meal planning schedule for dinner.

4. Have a sleep routine.

When you have a set bedtime, you avoid the late night streaming binges which are no good for you anyway. Keeping to a regular sleep and wake cycle is excellent for overall health and well-being.

decision fatigue

5. Set a timer to reduce decision fatigue.

I use the Pomodoro timer throughout the day to stay on task. And allot a set amount of time each day for social media. After that, I don’t spend time considering whether it’s a good time to check my DMs.

6. Minimalize.

Edit your closet so you have a few favorite pieces that you wear over and over. It’s reported that Einstein wore the same outfit every day to reduce decision fatigue.

Streamline your possessions. The fewer things you own, the less choice you have to make about what to use. Less clutter in the home, less clutter in the brain.

7. Keep a daily schedule.

A to-do list reduces decision fatigue by letting you know what you need to get done that day. Keep it to 3-5 items and enjoy a healthy sense of accomplishment each day.

8. Shop with a list to reduce decision fatigue.

Most of us know the value of grocery shopping with a list. Studies show we spend up to 30% more when we shop without a list.

But, how many of us go to the mall with a list? Well, research has proven that retail shopping creates massive decision fatigue.

Consider going with a goal in mind of what you want to buy. And resist going to the mall for retail therapy.

9. Know your values.

Knowing what’s important to you will help reduce decision fatigue. When we have a clear view of our likes and dislikes, deciding what to say yes or no to becomes a no-brainer.

Why love doesn’t have to be earned

love doesn't have to be earned
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Due to the circumstances of my childhood, I’d adopted the belief that love is something you have to work for. The truth that love doesn’t have to be earned escaped me.

The phrase “limiting beliefs” shows up everywhere I look lately. And when I started to write mine down, a lightbulb switched on above my head.

Without realizing, I’d held on to the belief that love is hard to get. Because my parents did a poor job of showing me love, I’d defined it as something elusive and difficult to obtain.

After all the personal growth work, I hadn’t absorbed the basic fact that love doesn’t have to be earned. You can’t chase or catch love. In fact, love is not a thing at all.

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

Here’s what my exercise on limiting beliefs taught me about love.

1. I am love.

Love is not something outside of me that I need to seek out and grab hold of. I am love. Love for myself and love from God fills me every day.

Even if no one else loved me, I’d still have that everlasting love within me. It’s not going anywhere and I don’t have to change or perform to access it.

2. Love doesn’t have to be earned because it’s not a commodity.

what does love mean

The moment you try to earn love, it stops being love. That’s the amazing, frustrating thing about love. All the rules around working hard to get what you want don’t apply.

Love is easy. It’s not something you acquire like a new car. It’s already yours. All you have to do is express, share, and acknowledge it within you.

3. You don’t have to change to win love

Think back to a time when you tried to change or become something else to win love. Did it ever work?

When you were a child and did everything you could to experience your parents’ love, did they give it to you? Not accolades for an accomplishment, but love for who you are.

I’m going to guess not. So, when will we learn that love doesn’t have to be earned and, in fact, can’t be? How many times will we chase it, change, or yearn for it before we believe we already have it?

4. We need to show ourselves love.

This is not a version of “you need to love yourself before anyone else will love you.” I understand how impossible it feels to love yourself when you never received love as a child.

Instead, we need to treat ourselves with compassion and care. That way, we experience ourselves as valuable and worthy of nurturing.

Taking care of our needs helps us see that love is an inside job. Not something we tell ourselves in a way that creates cognitive dissonance. But something that changes us on a cellular level.

Love doesn’t have to be earned. It’s available to us at all times because love is within us. Love is not an external entity we have to acquire to feel complete. We simply have to release the love already inside us.