One striking characteristic of a lifestyle that’s becoming unsustainable is the sensation of personal pressure – feeling squeezed.
As such, this feeling is a gift, a sign that we simply cannot carry on as we have been. In this situation, it’s important to distinguish carefully between what’s turning up as urgent in our lives and what’s important to us. Our feelings can be our guides: Something that’s urgent feels pressing, time limited, imperative (i.e. has to be done), high priority, stressful, panic-inducing, energy draining, related to impulsiveness rather than spontaneity. Something that’s important can feel pressing, but it also feels life enhancing, energising, truthful.
Whose Business is it Anyway?
In working with urgency, our first awareness is to discern whether urgent tasks really do need our attention and energy, or whether that’s an illusion. In other words, are they important as well as urgent? How do we spot the difference?
When you consider deeply the importance of a particular job, does it feel contracting or expansive? Lodged in your mind or in your heart? Enriching to your life or depleting of it? If it feels contracting, mind-based or energy depleting, chances are it’s not yours to do.
Weeding out those tasks that are not truthfully, genuinely enriching and important to us can be a straightforward filter and can rapidly reduce the pressure we feel. If something is urgent and important to us, it’s probably ours to deal with. If it’s urgent and not important to us then the responsibility really lies elsewhere. A non-important and urgent item is something we’re likely to have been drawn into through unconscious conditioning, maybe in order to win someone else’s approval or so that we can feel soothed and validated in some way by our busyness. Being willing to pick up someone else’s responsibility might be the result of us not valuing and respecting our own needs in relation to those of others. We might be prone to collecting such tasks when we find it difficult to say ‘no’ to others. Offloading those jobs that are not ours to do is the first step in reducing our stress.
Being in our busyness is a habit of distraction cultivated to prevent us from seeing our truth, what’s really of benefit to us and what feeds our souls – our business. Busyness might also be a way of avoiding facing emotional pain of some sort. Where we belong, though, is in our business not in our busyness. This is what will support us to thrive in the face of urgency.
What if There Are Still Too Many Urgent Tasks?
What I’ve noticed about people who rarely seem to be in a state of urgency is that they’re very clear on their values and one of those values is usually personal wellbeing. When we truly value ourselves, what we stand for and the life path we’re committed to, then we experience a strong sense of guidance in what life and work tasks to take on and which to let go. The confusion and delusion arises because of either not being aware of our care values or not yet being willing to consciously act on them in making life decisions. The dilemma is that in order to increase that awareness and willingness, we need to take some time out, step off the treadmill, if only for a little while, in order to reconnect with the big picture of our lives and see our busyness and business in a much broader and deeper context. It can take courage to do that and, when we fail to find the courage, sometimes life deals us a card that forces us to take stock.
I have encountered both types of scenario in my life – choosing to stop and review, and being shown what I’m refusing to see by life bringing me to a crisis point.
As a result of these experiences, here are some aims and intentions I’d like to share with you. They’re what I’ve created so far as a way to keep me on track and in low-stress simplicity:
• To recognise who I’m working for in each moment. Am I in my busyness or my business?
• To gradually eliminate all ‘urgent, not important’ tasks from my life by saying ‘no’ to taking them on.
• To gradually reduce all urgent tasks, whether important or not, to an absolute minimum.
• To leave some space each day for the unexpected so that the few urgent tasks left can be accommodated with minimum stress.
• To be spontaneous with urgent items, rather than impulsive.
How do you work with urgency and handle feeling squeezed?