I’m fully aware of my compulsiveness. I believe it has fueled my success and….
taken fuel out of my success.
Compulsions are something we all have–most of the time as a way of escaping the moment.
On a related note, “Women Food and God” author Geneen Roth has a way of talking about managing your SELF. She calls it “keeping the patient comfortable.” I took a workshop from Geneen and realized that we–especially women–spend a lot of time outside of our body.
We’re not home.
We distract ourselves from life–and we experience a watered down version of it. We all have different reasons we decide to check out of reality, check out of our bodies, check out of the moment. While momentarily checking out can seem to ease pain, anxiety, sadness, fear—I believe the strength we gain by living in HERE NOW strongly outweighs any short-term painless pleasure of living in distraction.
On a related note there was a popular article published this week in the New York Times called “The Busy Trap.” Consider this excerpt from the essay:
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.
Whether we’re aware of it or not we all have ways of managing our anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration–all the things in life we go through as human beings. Busy is a solution to the anxiety-conundrum, but what happens when we realize that we rarely take even five minutes in our day to make sure we’re really present, in our bodies, home?
ADD, OCD, ADHD, Multi-Tasking, Switch-Tasking, the usual
What I believe will help us feel more internally calm on an individual basis is becoming more aware of the ways in which we escape what we go through. I believe as a society we are addicted to escape. Escape is a form of compulsion–no matter the activity.
According to Wikipedia a compulsive behavior is “a psychological condition in which a person does a behavior compulsively, having an overwhelming feeling that they must do so.”
Ok so sometimes this urge or feeling is actually a blog I want to write down. But it can also be an urge to put some chocolate in my mouth, or check my Facebook. I could be multi-tasking, and according to Geneen Roth that could be eating chocolate and checking Facebook at the same time. She’s right. Am I really tasting the chocolate when I’m looking at friend’s pictures of sailing trips, weddings, and babies?
At the incredible “Women, Food and God” workshop I attended Geneen Roth took us through an exercise where we were given a piece of chocolate. We were asked to close our eyes, smell the chocolate, feel the chocolate, put it to our lips, lick the chocolate, savor the chocolate in our mouth. It was the best damn chocolate I ever ate in my life. And 300 other women felt the same way. The entire audience laughed.
Geneen showed us that focusing on the one piece of chocolate made it a very different and pleasurable experience–much more so than wolfing the chocolate down in between tweets, Spotify and the New York Times.
Multi-tasking, Switch-tasking, Accomplishing Nothing
They say that multi-tasking just means doing a few things very badly. When you are distracted whatever you’re doing loses focus. I believe I’m not the only one who does this. I believe most of us don’t even realize we spend very little time actually in our bodies. We are trying to rush through our days doing as many things as possible. When was the last time you sat down at the table and really tasted your dinner? That means eating without distractions–no Facebook, no TV, no anxiety inducing conversation with family, no work.
I believe that most of us aren’t aware of our inability to sit still. And we’re certainly not aware of our compulsive behavior.
Here’s a list of compulsions. Do you have any more?
- Working out
- Drinking wine
- Drinking coffee
- Smoking (I don’t smoke)
- Chewing gum
- Watching tv
- Instant messaging
- Checking email
- Opening the fridge
- Petting the dog
- Biting nails
- Picking cuticles
- Touching our hair
- Sharing photos
- Throat clearing
There are many more on this list of compulsive behavior–some of which are far more destructive. While we might not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which can make life debilitating, many of us have a small version of that. We are functionally a little dysfunctional.
I will be the first to admit I have incredible trouble sitting still. But now I’m more aware of my minor case of ADD, OCD, ADHD or just plain old Gen Y’er–whatever you want to call it.
I manage my own Gen Y-ishness by exercising in the morning, taking deep breaths throughout the day, closing my eyes for a few minutes if I have to. I get up every two hours because I have to take my dog out–but it’s one of the healthiest things I do during the day to keep me fresh.
I also stop myself if I notice I’m starting to open Tweetdeck, Facebook or email while I’m on the phone. I will close it off and pull out a post-it note and take notes regarding the call I’m on. I’m giving myself the ok to slow down. Really slow down.
I want us all to slow down and try and give everything we do the gift of our attention. By slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time, 100% we will all notice the quality of our lives improving.
The truth is there is time enough in the day to slow down.
While I don’t expect you to completely change, I do want to encourage you to be more aware. By being aware you will have a better understanding of yourself and your best work-environments. You will also notice the quality of your relationships improve (by giving people the gift of your attention), and the quality of your free time improve.
If you make time for deep breathing throughout your day you will also notice that you are more relaxed and better equipped to manage your day.
Don’t forget the big, important word “BOUNDARIES” and make sure to draw them for yourself on a daily basis.