Busy: A Small Word Sending a HUGE Distress Signal
There’s this generally accepted delusion that time is something we can find. No, time isn’t lost. We are. We can’t find time, we can only make time.
I bring up this notion of finding time for good reason. We tell ourselves we’d do X, if only we could find the time. Oh, but why can’t we find the time? Because we’ve been so unbelievably…busy.
Busy is an excuse, a copout, and a socially acceptable LIE. When we claim we’re ‘too busy’ we are often lying to others, ourselves or both.
***I am not counting last Friday when all our plumbing backed up into the HOUSE. I really WAS too busy to do my edits.
Yet, most of the times we claim we’re way ‘too busy’ we really aren’t. And, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I do this stuff, too. I’ve simply made it a point to catch myself when I use this word.
The word ‘busy’ is a red flag I’m lying about something…something probably important.
Remember in ancient times when people used landlines, before call-waiting? What did we do when we didn’t want to be bothered? We took the phone off the hook so anyone trying to reach us would get a ‘busy’ signal. We used this tactic to keep other people AWAY from us.
Maybe we needed a nap. Perhaps we required quiet uninterrupted time for other more important things like doing bills, studying, enjoying a date, or arguing with a ‘loved’ one 😀 .
We might have been trying to avoid facing someone or something we felt unable to handle. Bill collectors, deadbeat exes, family members with zero concept of boundaries.
Sometimes, we’d hit a limit, and simply couldn’t face life in general. We believed with some calm, quiet and rest we’d somehow rally back, find the answers, or muster the courage. More often than not, though, we wanted to hide.
Maybe just me.
If we look at all the reasons I just listed for ‘taking the phone off the hook’ this can offer incredible insight into our modern version of this evasive maneuver. The I’ve just been so BUSY feint.
We can look at ourselves and others more honestly, which is imperative if we yearn to live intentionally.
It Isn’t That Important
As humans, we’re always ranking what is important and what isn’t. The bugger is we do this no matter what. If we let ourselves drift along on auto-pilot, our subconscious (reptile brain) will do our ranking for us.
The problem is our subconscious mind is the part of the brain known to put our keys in the fridge or toss the banana while keeping the peel.
In a nutshell, our subconscious is a smidge flaky.
When Lizard Brain makes a list, it intends to keep us ‘safe.’ If we fail to consciously choose what matters, our lizard brains will do the choosing for us. Lizard brain is wired for survival. This means Lizard GPS is pretty much always the path of least resistance.
This is how we end up prioritizing laundry, dishes, Facebook, etc. ahead of actions that will yield real results. Then, when we’re threadbare and exhausted, all we have to say for our efforts is we’ve been…busy.
Contrast this with making a conscious ranking, and it’s easy to see why we’re so happy to hand the Lizard our keys. If we made a choice to prioritize exercise, quality family time, finishing our novel, cleaning out our garage, we’d be forced to be honest with ourselves and others.
Yesterday, I attended my eldest nephew’s high school graduation. I was particularly close with this nephew when he was young. Yet, over time I saw him less and less. Despite invitations, messages and calls, I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen my nephew in the past four years (because he lives an HOUR away, not down the block anymore).
His go-to line is, ‘Sorry, Tante. I’ve just been so busy.’
***Tante is German for aunt.
The truth he either is unaware of or afraid to say? I’m a teenager and my girlfriend, school, sports, fishing, etc. is way more fun than hanging out with my middle-aged aunt.
Granted, the truth hurts, but can I really blame him? Um, yeah maybe school, sports, girlfriend and being a teenager slightly higher priority and more fun than driving an hour to hang with the middle-aged auntie 😛 .
Of course, part of me wants to remind him exactly how UN-FUN playing hours of HALO with a six-year-old really was. A six-year-old who hoarded ammo and got me killed no less than fifty times an hour. NO. A hundred!
How burying stuff in the yard and drawing treasure maps for him? Sitting in triple-digit heat for his peewee soccer games?
But I don’t because MY priorities have nothing to do with HIS. I was older when I chose to rank quality time with a child over whatever I found fun in 2005.
If I can see past the ‘lack of time’ facade because he is ‘so busy’ then I’m not wounded when he isn’t scheduling me in. Why? It isn’t a TIME problem at all. Granted I miss him, but that doesn’t mean I have to feel slighted by him.
Though if he thinks I’m sharing my plasma grenades with him ever again? MISTAKEN 😛 .
Pretty Fictions & Pointy Truths
Truth frees me to not take this personally. Instead of grieving ‘my nephew ignores me’ *sniff sniff*, it’s simply I’m not high on his list (likely not on it at all). This liberates me from chasing someone who doesn’t rank our relationship on the list of priorities.
***Leaves me more time to work on the younger one who always loved me MORE 😛 .
Seriously, my eldest nephew’s young and maturity hopefully will change his priorities. Make hanging out with me ‘cool’ again.
Overall, the point is that it isn’t personal.
My nephew tells me he’s busy because that’s easier, kinder, more polite than the truth. Control is not love. His priorities don’t have to be the same as mine.
Sure, I could use the guilt card (*cough* Remember HALO?) but then I’m forcing MY way. I’m juking the relational algorithm, which is known as manipulation.
FYI: Nothing good really ever comes out of manipulation.
Why families, friendships, relationships, etc. end up in drama is when we accept ‘busy’ at face value. We try harder because we cling to a lack of time being the core issue instead of the truth…we aren’t a priority.
How I wish I’d have understood all this when I was young. I remember going on a date, believing it went well because he said he’d call tomorrow.
Then days would pass with no call, no plans for another date. If I ran into this person, usually there was some rambling talk about so much work and blah blah blah and being busy.
It wasn’t me AT ALL, just they were BUSY. They would totally call…soon.
No, they had no intention of calling. Some were simply too chicken to say, Was real, was fun, but not real fun. Ghosting me was easier (Reptile move for sure) and ‘busy’ an easy out when forced into confrontation.
For others, ‘busy’ was a solid tactic to keep me hopeful. If the ‘busy’ hook worked, then the guy could always keep me in the wings as a backup. In case the girl he really liked said no to going out, Kristen would be waiting on that call.
As I matured and began to recognize the ‘busy’ feint, I moved on. This kept me from chasing guys who were too chicken or too selfish/greedy to be honest. I finally gained enough confidence (and wisdom) to grasp that, if a guy was really into me, he’d move heaven and earth to MAKE time.
And this is how I met my wonderful husband! Because I stopped filling my time with guys who weren’t that wild about me, I made room for the one guy who was completely crazy about me (and still is 10 years later) 😉 .
Busy is no excuse.
Yet, beyond dating, how many of us invite unnecessary pain by accepting ‘busy’? The boss who is ‘too busy’ to look at your ideas, the friend who is ‘too busy’ to call, the partner who is ‘too busy’ to help?
Deep down we know the truth (but are afraid of it) and this is why we end up defeated, wounded, anxious, neurotic, etc. If we got honest, we might change jobs, change friends, or change habits, but that’s a lot of work and kinda scary.
Okay, a LOT scary.
Willing vs. Unwilling
Thus far, Lizard has been making the lists. Time to take control. First of all, allowing others to use the ‘busy’ card, gives us a pass on confrontation. Our culture has made confrontation to be some horrible thing to be avoided at all costs. Confrontation has been made synonymous with fighting and anger.
Confrontation really is a matter of willing versus unwilling.
If others are ‘too busy’ then let them be busy. Move on. If things change, and they truly value ‘whatever’ they’ll call. Yet, if they don’t, we’ve already let it go (along with all the feelings of rejection).
So far we’ve talked a lot about others. Now, what about us? When we consciously rank what is a priority and what isn’t, expect pain. We will have to choose the pain of what we want later over the thrill of what’s easy NOW.
Oh, and we’ll need to learn to invoke the NO.
Consciously choosing what is important keeps us out of the spiral of ‘I Suck.’ I don’t have six-pack abs and 12% body fat because I am unwilling to live in a gym and measure all my food. Thus, if I am UNWILLING to do these things, then I need to be okay with my relatively fit but fluffy self.
If I claim I’m WILLING to do all it takes to be a successful author (meaning actually sell books), then the ‘I’m too busy’ to write, take classes, build a platform, etc. doesn’t fly anymore.
Are You Willing?
My approach to building a brand and platform is not sexy, exciting and doesn’t magically sell a bazillion books overnight. I created a system that worked with what I was willing and UNWILLING to do.
I am WILLING to be patient and invest long-term building relationships. Totally willing to strengthen my writing skills (via blogging and books).
Conversely, I’m unwilling to hustle harder than an multi-level marketer crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m also unwilling to build my platform’s FOUNDATION anywhere I am not fully in control (ergo why I’m a fan of the blog and don’t trust Facebook).
I’m unwilling to automate, because I don’t like spam and am unwilling to serve it to others. I choose not to focus on promotions and ads and marketing because if it means even MORE work?
In life, I’m willing to be relentless, work hard, and do my best. I’m unwilling to do this at the expense of my integrity, my peace, my family and my friends.
This might mean I won’t have an immaculate home.
But now, instead of whirling down the ‘I Suck’ spiral, I can be more at ease. I’m unwilling to give up choice writing time and make my family a neurotic mess…all to have a Good Housekeeping picture-perfect house.
I’m not lazy or a slob or not trying hard enough and I am certainly NOT too ‘busy.’ I simply have decided what I’m willing and unwilling to pursue. For me? Reading and taking more classes and writing and honing my skills is more important than having a Martha Stewart house or being a 44-year-old fitness model.
So, yoga pants covered in cat fur it is!
In the End
Once we face the truth (or fiction) of busy, we can let go of a lot of needless baggage. Life crises aside, generally we aren’t too busy to finish the novel, have buns of steel, or a shabby-chic perfect house if we truly want those things.
We aren’t too busy to call that old friend, we’re simply unwilling to get sucked into drama. We’re now willing to see we were never too busy. We were too sad, afraid, ashamed to face this person we care about is actually toxic.
Obviously the list could go on and on. What I hope to impress on y’all is we all can fall for the ‘busy’ without asking the next question. Are we really too busy, or do we suck at saying no and setting boundaries?
Do we really WANT that promotion, new car, hot body, Pinterest-worthy home, or best-selling book?
If we stopped and asked the next logical questions, we might realize we don’t want what we claim we do. Not really. And that is okay.
Once we let that go, we can stop the incessant inner narrative that tells us how much we suck. When I hear myself use the ‘busy’ feint, this is a HUGE road flare to stop and evaluate.
Am I ACTUALLY too busy? Or have I let Lizard do too much driving? Am I afraid, tired, failing to set and enforce boundaries, not being honest about what I want and don’t want?
Are there people, problems, hardships I need to confront but can’t because I lack courage, will, wisdom? Am I ‘taking life off the hook’ and giving the ‘busy signal’ to buy time? Is this a warning I need more rest?
It’s okay, we’re all (mostly) human here 😉 .
Frankly, life is too short to be busy.
I don’t know about y’all but who wants THIS headstone?
‘Here Lies Kristen: She Was Busy’
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you see ‘busy’ in a new way? Guilty of taking life off the hook to buy time so you could DEAL? *raises hand here* Have you wasted time chasing people, dreams, goals when a nice long pause might have saved a ton of grief?
Have you taken time to ask what you want and why? And do you really want it?
Does the idea of willing and unwilling help clarify? Maybe we aren’t as lazy, untalented, slow, etc. as we thought? Perhaps, when viewed through a different lens, we aren’t doing all too shabby.
Sure, my house is covered in cat fur, but my kid is fun and loving and kind!
I love hearing from you!
What do you WIN? For the month of JUNE, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
May’s winner announced next post!
June 8th with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds. We need to know our character’s past, their gols, conflicts and motivations…but don’t get crazy 😉 .
NEW CLASSES! ALL About the KICK@$$ FEMALES!
Class starts the morning of 6/16/18 with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds 11:30 AM EST to 1:30 PM EST ($45)
The NEXT class starts the afternoon of 6/16/18 with ME, Kristen Lamb 2:00 PM EST to 4:00 MP EST ($45)
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Both Cait AND me for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! Squeee! SAVE $15 for the alcohol you might need afterwards to…celebrate 😀 ($75)
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