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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Ramsden

Escape the 'busyness trap'

At the end of my interview with Feda Adra, she made a great point that stopped me in my tracks...

Why are we so hooked on being 'busy' and working hard?

Working long days is not something to be proud of. It's not a badge of honour. It should not be a goal.

When you ask how people are, how often do you hear them respond "busy", or "lots going on"?

How often is that your response?

Welcome to the busyness trap!

I'm not judging. It's often my first thought when someone asks how I am. And there are many good reasons for it:

  1. It accurately reflects how we're feeling.

  2. It demonstrates how well things are going for us in a #humblebrag kinda way (we're in demand! Good things are happening).

  3. It can be a pre-emptive defence against the person we are talking to, in case they were even thinking of asking something additional of us.

Busyness can sometimes correlate with importance, but ongoing busyness correlates only with an inability to scale your impact effectively.

And ultimately it robs us of our ability to do our best work, to be present with loved ones, and even our ability to grab great opportunities as they appear. The cost of busyness is too high!

In terms of conscious tactics, this means you either need to:

  • delegate, and be ok that others do things differently or even to a lower standard initially.

  • find efficiencies

  • manage your boundaries… ie Say “no!”

But it’s next to impossible to implement these conscious strategies without addressing the subconscious strategies that we were conditioned with from an early age. Let’s unpack that…

If you (like many of us) are recovering from “Busyness Syndrome”, it’s almost always because you were conditioned to be an ‘Achiever’ (what Wilhelm Reich referred to as the ‘Rigid Character’) when you were young.

This means attention, recognition, rewards and even love were doled out to you, but only when you achieved things. The love you could access was conditional, it only appeared if you met certain expectations and criteria.

Achievers thrive on busyness, it gives us a constant stream of achievements, even if we’re just ticking boxes, like little hits of self-worth, love and validation. Keep busy enough and we don’t even have to slow down long enough to feel those uncomfortable emotions we all get from time to time.

For these reasons busyness can be an addiction.

If you can relate to any of this then it’s very likely that to this day your sense of self-worth is highly dependent on how many goals you’ve kicked this week and how much others seem to respect you and have been listening to what you say, recently.

If self-worth is how you feel about yourself. High self-worth means you love yourself (as you should). So for Achievers, your self-worth is conditional too. And harder still, it’s conditional on external goals and people. Which ultimately isn’t ‘Self’ worth after all.

Anyone who puts other people in charge of their self-worth is playing a dangerous game.

The answer of course is to find a rock-solid, unshakable source of unconditional love. And there’s only one source that’s available to everyone… you. You must find a way to love yourself unconditionally.

It sounds trite, so it’s easy to dismiss. Yet that doesn’t make it any less true or powerful, and it’s much easier said than done.

Process the conditioning and emotional legacy of conditional love and unconditional love can be yours. At this point you will no longer resonate with reasons 1, 2 or 3 above. You’ll no longer be drawn to “busyness” and you’ll wonder why you spent so much of your life staying so “busy” all the time.

To hear more from my interview with Feda, come and join the Wholehearted Leadership Revolution Community on Facebook as we countdown to the release of our book on 21 July!

Reach out if you’d like a helping hand out of the busyness trap. It’s a speciality of mine as I’ve been there myself.

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