How often do you feel busy, overwhelmed, burnt out, and bent over from the weight of all that you have to do? And how often does that leave you feeling unfulfilled in work or relationship?
Our culture thrives on busy-ness. We see those who are caught up in the speed of life who appear okay on the outside and think that is strength, while viewing any amount of slowing down as weakness. The taboo of slowness in our culture I believe is part of why we fear a slower pace. We want so badly to be seen as successful and for people to think we are invincible. But perhaps there is even more to it. Maybe living a fast-paced life is serving another purpose by protecting us from something. This frantic life style keeps us so busy we don’t have time to look inside ourselves and ask the hard, uncomfortable questions that could potentially bring up past wounds or even the fresh ones. If we stop and be present with ourselves and with others, then we might have to face shame and failure as well. It seems this could keep us from the success we long for. However, what many new researchers and other cultures are finding is that the exact opposite is true of slowing down.
When we choose to glaze over these hard emotions and distract ourselves by filling our schedules, we also glaze over the good emotions. We miss special moments of connection with our spouses, our children, and close friends because we aren’t present to that moment. Instead we are in our heads coming up with a plan for the quickest way to accomplish more tasks on our lists. Things we once cared deeply about become just another part of our to-do list. By filling up our time to avoid pain, we lose our ability to connect to our own hearts and the hearts of those we love most. We also lose our creative abilities because we haven’t stopped and looked at the world around us that holds infinite inspiration. This suppression of emotion eventually comes up in the form of health issues, anxiety, fatigue, etc. Research is showing us that those that practice slowing down and being present in life have more success. They have deeper, more fulfilling relationships, are performing at a higher level at work, eat better, and are overall healthier people.
Learning how to live a more present life is not an easy process. It is terrifying at times. In Shauna Niequist’s book Present over Perfect, she describes this busy life style as one without connection, meaning, or depth. She believed she was settling for busy instead of doing the hard work it takes to expose our true selves and trust that to be enough. She says the journey toward being present has changed her life. “It is a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning your worth”.
Niequist goes on to talk about what it’s like to live without these things that have protected you for so long. “It is terrifying: wildly unprotected, vulnerable, staring our wounds right in the face. But this is where we grow, where we learn, where our lives finally begin to change”.
At Refuge we want to walk with you in your journey of slowing down, being present, and accepting yourself as enough. We understand the fear that exists in this journey but are committed to coming alongside you and helping you see the courage that is inside of you.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Ted Talk “In Praise of Slowness” by Carl Honore