Confessions of a Busyaholic

Confessions of a Busyaholic

When I am busy and ticking through my to-do list, I feel on top of the world, the best version of myself and worthy of love and respect.  On the other hand, when I have a “lazy” day, which to me seems “unproductive”, I feel worthless, a failure and definitely not lovable. My loved ones are often impressed with how much stuff I get done, and when I hear their words of admiration I feel great. Do any of you relate to this?

So where does this obsession with being “busy” come from?

Dr. Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist) has an interesting take on it and her Instagram post from 8th May 2020 really spoke to me: “The addiction to chaos begins in childhood when connection comes through shared states of crisis.”

It makes sense to me that we learn habits very early on in life, and that the atmosphere around our growing up becomes the “norm” for us. I realised that there were elements of ”chaos” in my growing up: 4 of us siblings under 5, parents getting divorced at age 7, moving country several times, moving house countless times and going to many different schools. For me “chaos” as a norm comes with feeling unsafe, uncertain, unseen and a difficulty to reach out and ask for help. 

This means that I now need to learn to embrace calm, peace, stability, admitting when I need help and feeling safe to be me. This is easier said than done, as I find that being still and quiet can bring up feelings of uncertainty, sadness, low self-esteem and sometimes despair. I have observed that healing my past hurt, trauma and self-limiting beliefs helps me feel more comfortable with this state of just “being”.

A friend of mine recently drew a card from Alanna Fairchild’s Kuan Yin Oracle cards and sent me the meaning. It was a lovely synchronicity as it was about learning to balance “doing” (YANG) with “being” (YIN). I loved this quote from the card: “Beingness is presence, it is appreciation, it is joyful stillness and wonder.”

One of the first steps to cure this addiction to being busy, could be to start by recognising that “being” is as important as “doing”. In his book, The Sibling Society, Robert Bly quotes the philosopher Eric Hoffer: “It takes leisure to mature. People in a hurry can neither grow nor decay;they are preserved in a state of perpetual puerility.”  The Book Transitions by William Bridges also helped me understand the importance of the “grey zone”, of times in between, where everything seems foggy and unclear, when we feel that we are not doing anything or going anywhere. This time is actually a crucial and magical phase on our journey which we can struggle to embrace. 

Spending more time on creativity lately, especially on writing, is bringing up a lot of questions for me. Is writing this blog unnecessary “busyness”? I could also use this time to rest. But then writing brings me so much joy and peace (check out my last blog post), that it really seems worthwhile to me. One sign that writing this blog is not just  “busyness” is that it can be challenging for me to find the time to do it. As I am writing this, I have piles of laundry to put away, bathrooms to clean and the kitchen is messy (plus a lot of other projects to do in the house). I do not find it easy to ignore these and take the time to work on my projects, but I am getting better at prioritising that. What helps me, is to keep in mind the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves: “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write..and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning…it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, rifts,and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she should be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.” 

Reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection was also a game changer for me. She talks about what she calls Wholehearted living: “it’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

If you recognise yourself in all (or some) of this, my wish for you is to join me by becoming a recovering “busyaholic”!

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

4 Comments
  • Elle Milimuka
    Posted at 09:16h, 03 June Reply

    Oh wow this really spoke to me. Ticking things off my To Do list is like a drug to me….I feel satisfaction after completing various tasks but it doesn’t last long. And as you say, housework never ends. I feel like it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even have any deep underlying passions to stoke up again to fill my time. I suppose I do (sculpture) but it’s so time intensive that there doesn’t seem any prospect of getting back into it when there’s a baby around. I need to find that place of deep contentment and satisfaction whilst responding to the needs of my baby. How do others do it? I’m still new at this and it’s a challenge.

    • admin
      Posted at 11:21h, 03 June Reply

      Thanks for sharing Elle! It is definitely a huge challenge and I personally underestimated how important work and creativity were for me the first year of my son’s life. In hindsight I would have booked a weekly babysitter for 2-3 hours and taken that time to do something that I am passionate about, something that fulfils me, gives me energy. You do get more and more time as the baby gets older so there is hope. But I think good to start with whatever you can get now, even if just an hour every week, a walk take photos, research sculpting projects. Good luck and let me know! Melanie

  • Daniele Le Gall
    Posted at 17:07h, 03 June Reply

    Thank you Melanie for such enlightening thoughts. But apart from a feeling of self-worth isn’t there in busyness an element of wanting to structure, to control linear time, to be “on top of things” as they say? Busyness would give a meaning to our life, not by who we are, but by what we do?Just a thought.

    • admin
      Posted at 12:44h, 04 June Reply

      Thank you Daniele/ mummy! That is interesting that you say that, as I remember you telling me when my son Alexander was born the first weeks, that I did not need to always tidy up everything when he was napping, that it was a form of trying to stay in control. I did not really get it back then but I do now and wish I could have already applied it back then. I completely agree with what you say and that is missing from this post. When I am busy, I am partly trying to control my life, or “life”, I am kind of resisting going with the flow, and facing this “invisible void”. Thank you for your insights! Melanie

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