The Busy One Inside

The Busy One Inside

“How have you been?” my client asked me as I closed the door and took my seat, iPAD in hand. 

“I’m a little sick,” I replied and shrugged my shoulders, preparing to focus on my clients and their experiences.

“Sam,” he said, “you’re always sick when I see you and I have been seeing you for 2 years!”

“I know right!” I quipped.

I have been sick on and off – at least once a month for the past 2 years. And this has had me wondering what was going on? Was I ageing before my time? Was it stress?

“You’re working yourself to the bone,” another client said poignantly, echoing my parents. She was of course right. Astutely so. I have, in the last few years worked progressively harder, extending my hours, seeing more clients, pushing my limits and complaining all this time that “I’m exhausted!”

“Perhaps you should see less clients (not me though)?” suggested another client. “Then you will have more time to rest and relax and vege out!”

“I know!” I said, and started to fantasize about the weekends of waking up late and doing nothing much in particular. Perhaps I would roll around on the floor and stare at the ceiling! Yet, when weekend does swing around, I would often find it really quite difficult to sit still and vege out. My weekends are filled with (no prizes for guessing) more work activities or chores. 

I have recently started to wonder about the discomfort I feel inside when I don’t do something. When I don’t pace around in circles. It was a sensation in the pit of my stomach, a sense of hands clasping and unclasping in perhaps frustration. A sense of urgency and of energy to do something. It felt really busy. I will call it the Busy One Inside.

I wondered about this Busy One Inside. What is it’s story? Why had it nestled into my solar plexus and lodged itself there for so long that I had become largely unaware of its presence save when I try to do nothing. I don’t dislike it. In fact, I feel quite comforted for its presence and know its value. It makes me very efficient and keeps me on task and disciplined. But I have not been able to rest and recuperate because it doesn’t let me. Not truly rest.

I recalled being a rather nonchalant kid and immersing myself in the wonderful world of daydreaming (I’d recommend this to everyone by the way!). It seemed like high-school when the Busy One Inside started to emerge as a strong presence in my psyche. I was not much of a student in junior high school, but high school was pretty much make or break. It would determine my entry (or not) into university and by extension my future. I recalled studying copiously (but ineffectually then). The Busy One Inside felt more like dread at that time. There was certainly a sense like wringing of hands and a bracing for impact sort of feeling at that time. It was...dreadful. 

Then I made it into university and truly enjoyed studying freely. I was autonomous and chose things I liked to read and study about. The Busy One Inside took on a rubbing of hands in anticipation feeling and was excited. As my GPA rose through the rungs, the Busy One Inside started to become more directive and stern, with a constant eye on the water level of my GPA, urging me not to let it slip and perhaps aim for a scholarship.

These days, it seemed that the Busy One Inside has not shaken off the feeling that we have to play catch-up or prevent things from falling apart (even though things have reached their use-by date). It’s a constant remainder that I’m staying afloat in the rat race and that I need to go at it harder to prevent being swept away. It means well and keeps me safe, in its own way. Yet, I also know that it’s driving me toward burn out and being sick quite often.

Strangely, acknowledging and appreciating its presence and story helped it ease off and slow down. As I’m typing this now, the Busy One Inside my solar plexus has relaxed its grip on the steering wheel and a warm spaciousness has started spreading out from where it is lodged. I felt the need to urge it relax, to tell it that the road is long and we need a break on occasion (all the niceties that we tell others), but I needn’t do that because recognizing its presence and listening to its story was sufficient for it to be released a bit more. 

All "difficult" (read: uncomfortable) emotions or challenging parts of our psyche have an interesting and valid story to share. I would urge you to take some time to slow down and explore them. What does it feel like within you? What is its story? Why is it there? What are its (good) intentions? Acknowledging difficult emotions and challenging parts of our psyche is often sufficient to help them transform and for them to begin to take on a different role and direction within us.

Here's a good start:
What's your experience of the Busy One Inside?

Sam Tan.

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