As our world continues to unwind, the need for personal resilience becomes increasingly important. One of the steps to personal resilience is creating balance in your life–a balance between doing and being. Doing is outer focused, active and task-oriented. Being is inner focused, receptive and relationship-oriented. Unfortunately, our culture has deteriorated into an extremely unhealthy imbalance between the two.
Life wasn’t always as pressured as it is today. I remember when stores were closed on Sunday, no store was open 24/7, people ate meals with their families and actually talked to each other, Sunday was considered a day of rest, people kept their eyes on the road instead of on their cell phones, dinner out once a month was a special treat, people spoke to each other instead of texting, a forty hour workweek was the norm, evenings were a time for relaxation, people took ALL of their vacation days (and wanted more), we had much less stuff than we do today, and we were more or less content with what we had.
We now live in a culture that expects, promotes and rewards extreme overdoing, endless growth and insatiable consumerism. Cell phones are ubiquitous. Work demands border on the insane. We are expected to be on 24/7. This is NOT healthy—it is extremely stressful and it eventually ends in burnout. We need to unplug from this sick way of living. We need to slow down. We need to give ourselves downtime to rest and recharge. We need to make personal resilience a priority.
What happens if we don’t? Burnout.
Burnout is the end stage of unrelenting stress. It leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, overwhelm, cynicism, detachment, decreased work quality and an inability to accomplish tasks. Burnout doesn’t happen suddenly. It creeps up over time–which makes it harder to recognize.
Sophy Banks has raised the alarm about excessive doing in Transition Town organizations worldwide in her blog, What is Health for Human Beings and Human Systems? Here’s one small excerpt: “My enquiry into Doing and Being as a cause of unhealthy culture resulted in part from my experience and observations in the Transition movement, seeing how intense the drive to create change can be, and how easily that can tip us into a relentless urgent pressure to do. The scale of the change needed, the enormity of the consequences if we don’t succeed, and the emotional toll of working for something we care so deeply about all contribute to make Transition a compelling movement to keep on giving our time and energy to.”
Charles Eisenstein, whom many of us in TTM admire, says that excessive doing is a habit that arises from our need to distract ourselves from the pain of our mistaken belief that we’re separate beings in an impersonal universe. Those of us who have read his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, are looking for ways to practice what we’ve learned from him. What better way to start than with beginning to extricate ourselves from our habit of excessive doing?
Would you like to begin building personal resilience? Start with answering these questions:
- How do I create too much busyness and the potential for burnout? What drives me to do this?
- What can I let go of to create more space in my life?
- Am I able to say no when I need to? Or do I just take on more work?
- What are my physical, mental and emotional burnout signals?
- What is needed to create a healthy balance in my life? (Creativity? Play? Music? Nature? Stillness? Time with friends and family? What else?)
Now put what you learned into action.