What's the rush?
Highly sensitive people don't like to work under stress and pressure. It makes us nervous and lessens the quality of our performance. As people with particularly high standards and conscientiousness, the conflict between wanting to do well and feeling unable to do so builds into an intense and painful internal struggle. It’s no wonder we sometimes explode, and more often burn out.
Interestingly enough, we often create this sense of pressure for ourselves by rushing.
Why do we rush?
Internally, many of us feel driven to perform, excel, and succeed. We want to do good work. We feel driven to earn more money, or by the fear that we don't have enough. We feel flawed for being highly sensitive and try to prove that we are not. We feel behind on life's accomplishments. We over-schedule because we don’t want to miss anything, but we end up doing unimportant things. We are filled with passions, visions, and projects that compel us forward, taking on more and more. We postpone pleasure until we have accomplished our tasks, but the tasks remain unending. We spend our time injudiciously, perhaps in rebellion. We play games, answer lots of e-mail, create complicated solutions for small problems, and then rush to compensate. We rush to meet deadlines, believing we must be in a state of emergency to accomplish them. As sensitive people, we even rush because we feel that we have limited energy for any one thing and instead try to cram as much as possible into the time available.
We might even rush because we are afraid to stop -- afraid to see what's underneath, emotionally, when we slow down.
Information bombards us externally: e-mail, Internet, TV, commercials, jingles, billboards, the signs on our city streets and storefronts, etc.
And we have choices -- about everything. On a big-picture level, we have choices about our work, relationships, family, hobbies, and personal explorations. And on a smaller level, we have choices about lots of other things. One example is food: organic, biodynamic, conventional, traditionally processed, local, or commercially processed? Another is deodorant: scented or unscented; solid, roll-on, or clear; with or without parabens; with or without aluminum; preservatives; etc.
As a sensitive soul who processes everything deeply, do you have the time to process all that without feeling rushed?
On top of all this, busyness has become a badge of honor. How are you? "I'm good. Busy." This is often an unthinking, standard reply that evokes general approval and commiseration, so much so that not being busy can even start to feel unethical.
All of these reasons -- good or bad, light or dark -- can create a sense of urgency and lead to rushing.
It's time to stop the madness
When I worked in my prior high-pressure, deadline- and crisis-driven profession, I daydreamed about writing a book called "Hey, Folks, We're Doing It All Wrong." I see all the rushing and busyness as a systemic failure of mainstream culture, one that we as the sensitive sages of the world can see and point to, but one that we also fall victim to, time and again. Let us not be the canaries in the coal mine, but rather models for a new way.
To stop rushing, we must begin to make new choices. First and foremost, we must recognize that rushing is a choice we make, and choose anew. We can choose to follow our intuition about what is the next most important thing for us to focus on. We can become conscious and deliberate about the choices we make. We can cushion our departures so we easily arrive on time for appointments. We can observe, rather than absorb, the energy of rushing as it goes on around us.
Last weekend I choose to stay home and rest, rather than rushing to join my family for an Easter dinner. My intuition was that I needed an entire weekend of quiet time at home, puttering with my new husband. It wasn't easy to say that to our family, or to avoid my own internal obligation trap that tells me what I "should" be doing. But I am grateful for my choice. Today, I feel rested and whole.
My wise friend Julie builds anti-rushing time into her schedule, even with two small children. She consciously makes the choice not to rush. She gets up two hours early if needed and plans for a nap later in the day, in order to avoid rushing. As Oprah Winfrey might say, she has slowed down to the speed of life.
I challenge sensitive souls to step outside this rushaholism and become leaders in honoring the deeper intuitive messages that guide our lives. Let us be models for rational living that better serve our selves, our communities, and our planet.
* Will anyone die if I don't respond to this "emergency," or stop treating it as such?
* Is this worth my precious time and energy?
* Is this choice in alignment with who I am here to be?
* Is this a "should" or a "have-to"?
* What's next?
* What is my inner wisdom telling me here?
And remember, from a spiritual perspective: You are right on time. You'll never get it "right" and you'll never get it done, so enjoy the ride.
Women In Overdrive: Find Balance and Overcome Burnout at Any Age, by Nora Isaacs
The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It, by Susan Maushart
In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, by Carl Honore
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
A Danish website with ideas about a new "B" Society (under construction, but interesting) http://b-samfundet.dk/node/87
Copyright 2007, Jennifer K. Avery
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Jenna Avery, the Life Coach for Sensitive Souls, offers an original coaching program designed to guide highly sensitive souls to a deep sense of inner rightness, so they are inspired to step forward and shine. You're invited to visit her website at www.highlysensitivesouls.com to take her free online assessment, "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?"