Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hurry Sickness

A while ago we were hanging out with my father-in­­­­­-law waiting for something (I can’t remember what it was), but he seemed agitated. Nan asked him if he was in a hurry. On reflecting about it for a second he answered:

“No, I’m not really in a hurry, I’m just impatient.”

It has become one of those answers that we both remember when we approach things throughout the day.

How often do we find ourselves rushing around as if we are being chased by some unknown force? Where does the feeling come from? Is it real?

For some it may simply be habit, perhaps a habit instilled by parents early in our development. How many times as a child were you encouraged to hurry up, when enjoying the wonders of discovery? Or perhaps you were often perceived as “idling” during a task and were yelled at.

We can have this sense of needing to hurry because we “might miss out on something” and yet to hurry is to miss out on something: the joy in the journey, the blessing of “now”. This anxious feeling is the very thing that makes it hard for me to pray, to study, to reflect, to think deeper thoughts than just my daily tasks.

Solutions for deeply ingrained behaviors are difficult. They require discipline, which requires intentionality (a favorite concept of mine in many areas of life).

Often we are not in hurry because we are impatient by temperament, but because we are overcommitted. It is much easier to say “no” to the distasteful things in life than it is the desirable ones. But it is often the good things that must fall away to leave room to really enjoy the best. If I try to include everything, I will often find myself not fully present when engaged in the things I truly love, with the people I care about the most.

I have read recently that anxiety is rising in very young children because of the pressure being put on kids to participate and succeed in an ever-increasing amount of extracurricular activities. In an attempt to give their children an “advantage or head start” in life, they are really crippling them emotionally – and perhaps stressing the family out financially as well. The distress felt by kids to achieve academically to please their parents is, in some cases, related to teen suicide.   

When I become aware of feelings of hurry whether as a result of a state of mind or circumstances, I practice my self-soothing technique. I take the thoughts captive and slow myself down, both mentally and physically. Especially when I am actually pressed, I need to tell myself that I have enough time to accomplish my task.

Is this an area you need to work on in your private life or as a parent?

Thoughts or comments?

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