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?

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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.

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.

Why we need recognition and how to get it from the right places

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As someone growing her readership, I often receive advice to guest post on larger “platforms” to increase my recognition. You can’t keep showing up for just your own readers and expect to get ahead, they say.

While I have provided guest content when it felt right to me, something holds me back from going hard at seeking guest spots. That may change, but for now I prefer to focus on my readers.

The recognition I desire comes from my audience and those who have trusted me with their email address. I’m more interested in writing something that makes you open and read my emails, than capturing a guest spot on HuffPost.

I’m not writing this to flatter you, but to introduce my topic today which is about recognition. What it means, why it’s important to us, and how it differs from person to person.

It seems obvious that recognition is a basic human need. But it’s important to look at ourselves and know from whom we desire that recognition. So we’re not seeking it in all the wrong places.

What is recognition?

It’s the feeling of wanting to be seen and known. That could come from your husband and family or your boss at work. It doesn’t mean you want to be famous.

I’ve read we crave recognition most from the people we serve. That’s why a compliment from a customer can mean more than one from your manager.

If you’re a mom, nothing feels better than hearing your kids call you a good mom. Other people can praise your parenting all day, but it’s special when the kids acknowledge you this way.

Same when other women call you pretty but you never hear a man say it. This may not pass the PC test, but it’s something many women experience, myself included.

Why do we need it?


You may have convinced yourself you don’t need this type of outside affirmation. And it is better to get the lion’s share of our motivation from within. But we all need a little appreciation and tend to wilt and wither without it.

As a child, you may have felt discouraged from flexing your talents for others to see. You learned to avoid getting too big for your britches. You dimmed your light to become more acceptable to whoever fed you those lies.

When you tell yourself recognition doesn’t matter, cognitive dissonance sets in. This leads to simmering resentment and the martyr syndrome common to mothers of previous generations.

When you tell yourself recognition doesn't matter, it leads to resentment and martyr syndrome. Click To Tweet

We are not made to give selflessly without any acknowledgment of our contributions. When we are recognized by those we serve, we stand a little taller and shine a little brighter.

Ultimately, recognition shows us we’re not alone. As social animals, human beings crave connection with others. Recognition provides proof that we matter and have a purpose that influences others.

What does recognition mean to you?

What are healthy boundaries and how to set them

healthy boundaries
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I first learned about healthy boundaries in my recovery program. Having been raised in a home where such things were never discussed, my first foray into boundary setting came well into my 30s.

Depending on your experience, this may shock you. If you grew up in a home like mine, however, you may feel glad you’re not alone.

My parents kept me in line by registering their disapproval at every turn. This led me to believe my very existence required an apology. So, I did my best to shrink, not ruffle any feathers, and always always put other people’s needs ahead of my own.

I had heard of boundaries, but did not believe they applied to me. At the time, my self-awareness hovered around zero, which prevented me from articulating this fact. But my life showed all the evidence.

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

Now that I’ve learned to set healthy boundaries, it’s hard to imagine a time when I couldn’t say ‘no’. Now ‘no’ is my default answer. You have to give me a good reason to say ‘yes’.

Now that I've learned to set healthy boundaries, it's hard to imagine a time when I couldn't say 'no'. Now 'no' is my default answer. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about what healthy boundaries are not.

1. Healthy boundaries are not walls.

Some people who grow up with abuse and neglect wind up with nonexistent boundaries (like me). They realize from being told over and over (with or without words) that their needs are inconsequential. Their job is to discern other peoples’ needs and take care of those instead.

They self-sacrifice and people-please. They lack a concrete sense of self because they never learned their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. That’s because they were too busy studying other people to know themselves.

healthy boundaries
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But there’s another outcome from childhood abuse and neglect that often gets overlooked. That’s the child who decides they’re going to make damn sure their needs are met.

This leads to extreme self-sufficiency and a decision that everyone else is to blame for anything that goes wrong. They cannot afford to believe they are at fault because their sense of self is too fragile to handle that.

They have a fixed mindset and believe people don’t change. That means they have to be perfect and the best way to do that is avoid emotions at all cost. This equates to an extreme fear of intimacy and stonewalling anyone who tries to discuss emotions.

These are not boundaries, but walls, and they are just as dangerous as having no boundaries at all. Because they ensure the person will never enjoy true connection with another human being.

2. Boundaries are not rigid.

Rigid boundaries are another hallmark of an emotionally avoidant attachment style. This means you give no second chances when someone crosses your boundaries.

You have a rule that you only wait 5 minutes for someone at a restaurant. If they’re a minute late, you start ordering for yourself.

You cut people off easily when they slight you. You’re not interested in apologies or extending forgiveness. They should have known better.

You work so hard to be perfect and other people should, too. If they don’t, isn’t it fair they pay the price?

You may have many friendships but they’re all superficial. Your fear of intimacy and lack of trust prevent you from allowing anyone to get too close.

You can’t tolerate criticism, and lash out at anyone who dares challenge you. Your fragile ego can’t handle the idea you might be wrong.

What are healthy boundaries?

On the other hand, healthy boundaries are born out of love for self and others. Not a mistrustful need to protect oneself from constant perceived attack.

Healthy boundaries tell the world what you want and don’t want. They tell people what you will and won’t tolerate. They improve communication and make relationships go more smoothly.

Healthy boundaries tell the world what you want and don't want. They tell people what you will and won't tolerate. Click To Tweet

You speak up for yourself when mistreated. Though you give second chances, you won’t stick around for abuse.

You know you can forgive people without continuing a relationship with them. That’s different than cutting someone off at the first slight.

Comfort with saying no is the best way to set healthy boundaries. You are tuned into yourself enough to know your bandwidth.

You won’t overextend yourself to please someone else. This prevents the burnout and overwhelm that afflicts so many of us.

You won’t overshare by telling your whole trauma story to someone you’ve just met. You’ll let them get to know you over time. And only if they reciprocate with their own sharing.

If you’re busy or tired and someone needs your time, you’ll be honest. You’ll either say ‘no’ or put a limit on the amount of time you have available. This prevents resentment and misunderstanding.

If you're busy or tired and someone needs your time, you'll be honest. You'll either say 'no' or put a limit on the amount of time. Click To Tweet

If you’re dating someone and only want to see them once a week, that’s okay! Our culture loves to promote the idea of being joined at the hip. But healthy boundaries include limits on time spent with your love interest.

What other examples of healthy boundaries come to mind for you?