Are you running yourself into the ground?

When people are smart, high achieving, wonderful people who care about doing a good job, in and out of work, it’s very easy to reach a crunch point.

I often see it where clients are doing exactly what Bill describes in this quote.

Things are busy at work, it’s all go, glued to screens and phones and meetings for hours. Lots of coffee, lots of sitting and maybe some sugary, processed, quick-and-easy food chucked in for good measure.

In the presence of this, it can make sense to try and balance. With all this unhealthiness at work I must make sure I go running or to the gym, I must make sure I eat well at home, I must make sure our family time is full of maximum-quality experiences.

Our home life gets busy, in a different form, to try and counteract the busy in work.

It makes perfect sense to do this when you believe your good-enough-ness comes from doing everything brilliantly, to a high standard. That belief leads to more sped-up thoughts which leads to more sped-up activity.

In the presence of this sped-up mind and the pressure felt, the tendency is for men to do one thing badly over and over again — head against brick wall — and for women it’s to do lots of things badly — headless chicken mode. (Note the word ‘tendency’ — there is not a categorical gender split here.)

Inevitable that things get done in this way. All that mind-clutter really gets in the way of life living. It’s like the pipe is clogged, you literally can’t think straight.

Then things reach a point where it feels unsustainable. The stressful feelings get too much and, given we’ve been told it’s bad to feel stressed, it then makes perfect sense to try and make the stress stop.

And — given we’ve been told our feelings are caused by the outside world, it also seems to make perfect sense to try and stop the stressful feelings by taking control of the outside world, or by trying to take control of our thoughts.

And yet it never quite works.

Maybe there’s a short-term change — for a while you seem able to ‘manage’ your diary, or you seem able to keep on top of things at home to allow some rest time. But then it comes back. Like the new year diet that doesn’t quite stick — the busyness pounds gradually creep back on until you find yourself back in the same place again.

This is the tail-chasing pattern that occurs when we try to solve a problem at a leverage point that is lower than the level where change happens.

But the brilliantly amazing thing is that it’s all OK. The system we’re operating in wants us to see the higher leverage point, it’s on our side to break through the recurring pattern — and all the easier when we understand the system.

To help us look to what’s really going on it will keep shouting louder and louder, it will keep repeating the same loop of suffering over and over. It might not be articulately giving us directions but, in its own language, it’s incredibly clear in its message.

The building frustration that you’re caught back in the same busyness, perfection and high standards loop is the alarm system. That is the system’s way of telling you you’re working at a low leverage point. That is the system shouting at you that you’re chasing your tail. That there’s somewhere else to look for the peace of mind you’re seeking.

Neither our thoughts nor the world around us are controllable. In fact, the world around us is only ever a function of the principle of Thought in this moment. Always. There is no other way it works.

In thoughts of overwhelm, a situation looks impossible and insurmountable. Blocks and barriers and incapability in every direction.

The next moment, a gap in those overwhelm thoughts, with the same situation, and there’s a moment of clarity with ways forward and possible solutions.

In our misunderstanding that busy-minded thoughts need something to be done to fix or change them, we speed up, go faster and inadvertently perpetuate the very thing we’d rather not experience.

When we see that busy-minded thoughts are telling us we’re lost and out of connection with life, we more easily see to ease off them, to get curious about whether they’re actually telling us the truth instead of just believing them at face value.

From there space opens up, the pipe starts to unclog and clarity returns. We’re back in connection with life. We’ve come out of the lost-ness of the fog.

From there we can see how we’ve been running faster and faster to try and control the uncontrollable. We see that quality time, quality work and quality connections come from slowing down. We see that what appeared impossible has obvious next steps. We see that it was only ever imagined, thought-created pressure that led to getting lost in the first place.

Ease off, step back and see what occurs to you.

With love, Helen


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