The Cult of "Never Enough Time"
As we enter the holiday season, it seems our best laid plans for self-care, enforcing personal boundaries and new regimes seem to go out the window. Steadfast commitments to meditate, exercise, find a new job, write the book, or even sit for the catch-up conversation seem to dissolve into the too frequent refrain: "There's not enough time". Suddenly, taskmaster clients feel like victims of their schedules, claiming that they "don't have a minute to breath" and that they are "running from the moment I get up until I go to sleep".
Sound familiar? In the face of the real demands of family, travel, parenting and jobs, the panic over time feels so real it renders many in reactive burnout mode for months, taking a tole on physical health, and leaving us gasping for air and praying for the other side of Christmas.
I'm here to call out the prison of belief that is"not enough time" and encourage a new way of thinking. Patterns of believing that there's not enough time or that we're wasting time are derived from a scarcity mentality and a fundamental failure to take responsibility for what is most important to us. When we move away from this belief and shift into one of accepting where we are, delving deep into the present moment and taking responsibility for the choices we make, we will find that we have all the time in the world available to us. If I could give you all the time in the world, how would you spend it? And if your time was entirely your own, right now, what would you do? Many activities may spring to mind, from spending more time with friends and family to finally taking a step of action on a long-awaited dream. We spend a good deal of time in future fantasy, imagining a potential moment when we will have the freedom to finally focus on what's most important to us. But what if you never had more time than you now, this week, this month - how would that change how you live your life today?
Eckhart Tole in his chapter entitled End the Delusion of Time in the Power of Now writes: "All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence." Our culture's obsession with time stems largely from the fixation with a state of future fulfillment, justifying the unpleasant present moment. This preoccupation effectively makes it impossible for us to accept, appreciate and acknowledge our present reality. Thus the long sought after vacation becomes an obsessive need to arrive, a series of boxes to be checked on the experiential ladder, always anticipating a "there" that never arrives and robs us of the joy of this moment. The first step to combat the cult of not enough time is to be more present with each moment you are in. When the reflexive thought about not enough enters your mind you can think: I am exactly where I need to be right now (even if you are stuck in traffic, fighting with the cable company, listening to my Aunt Edna tell about her knee replacement for the fortieth time). By becoming a watcher of your own mind, your own experience, you automatically enter deeper into the present moment and make space for the simple beauty of being where you are, in all its curiosity and abundance. The second step involves taking responsibility for your own choices. Many of us find ourselves overextended because of perceived obligations that - if we don't fulfill them - will deeply disappoint others. Of course, some obligations are in line with our core values and purpose, and make us feel clean and resonant when we follow through with them. But many obligations are accompanied by a matrix of guilt and resentment and keep you from honoring your true self or desires. To start to shed these obligations, write an "I am allowed list" - a list of everything you could give yourself permission to do that would fly in the face of imposed rules. The list can be fully permissive and reflect the true desires of your essential self. As you complete the list, notice the sense of freedom that accompanies each rule you identify and discard, and then determine appropriate self-honoring action steps.
As you work both the inner conditions to bring yourself more fully present and outer conditions to discard obligations, you will find yourself slowly reveling in spaciousness and abundant time. You'll find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into presence, immersed in the now and engaged in meaningful actions that feed your soul. When in doubt, repeat the mantra: I have all the time in the world. I am honoring the abundant present moment and trusting that time stretches infinitely. I release all attachment to future projection & surrender to this perfect present moment. And hopefully this year you can give thanks around the dinner table for your own very real, very available gift of time.