Why, when the whole world is asked to slow down, do I feel as though I can’t catch up with myself? Adorned with a mask, I rush from place to place and, when home, project to project with the hope that I might cross off more items on an ever-growing to-do list.
I somehow convince myself that I don’t have time for a spontaneous phone call with a friend, an extra few minutes for (much-needed) sleep, or a chapter of that spellbinding book.
The reality is, I don’t have time because time has me.
Without intentionally doing so, I give the tick-tock of time power over me. Why do I let this happen? When did that start? Do other people struggle with time expectations?
A shudder just ran down my spine in the realization that, years ago, I asked those same questions. Back then, they weren’t about time. Instead, they were about whether I really had a drinking problem, an unhealthy relationship with food, or issues with my body image. Time wasn’t what had me. Alcohol, scales, and mirrors did.
Just as easily as I rationalize my lack of time today, I did the same thing to avoid any sort of professional help, well-considered amends, or self-care. How interesting that I thought I didn’t have time for such things until my time almost ran out.
With barely a moment to spare, I crawled my way toward the kind of help I needed. During those early days, people explained the importance of time. I didn’t understand that. I begged for freedom from what almost gave me none. Once I accepted the idea of patience I soon realized time is what’s needed for freedom from unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.
In that slow and steady process, I learned time is a precious commodity and must be respected as such.
Telling myself that I don’t have time is as dangerous as the idea that a drink of alcohol or fork left empty is a good one. I cannot allow for thoughts like that. For me, time is not the deciding factor for what I’m capable of or how to determine my priorities.
If I find myself in that mindset, something needs changing and that something is my perspective.
Thank goodness I have a proven, practical experience solution for anything that might disrupt my healthy lifestyle. When I remain willing to let go of the must-do’s and should-do’s and expectations, I’m better able to be fully present for people, situations, and things that truly matter.
If I simply slow down, take a step back, and a deep breath, I have plenty of time to:
- Hold a door
- Reach for the hand needing reassurance
- Make that phone call, write that letter, or knock on that door
- Spend a few extra minutes with a newcomer to recovery
- Tell people who matter that they do
- Walk slower
- Ask for help
- Breathe deeper
- Get quiet
- Look up
Perhaps the problem isn’t that I don’t have time. The problem is that I forget how much time means for me.
A Moment to Breathe
How often do you hear yourself say that you don’t have time? Whether said out loud or in the silence of your mind, the story you tell yourself about how much time you have often proves harrowing. Take a deep breath and consider how you navigate time. Do you feel spontaneous and free to accept an unexpected opportunity, or are you over-scheduled and exhausted? If the latter seems more realistic, perhaps a shift in perspective is necessary. Remember, your time is yours therefore you hold the power over how that time is allocated. Now, take another slow deep breath and rewrite today’s plan that suits you and your peace of mind.
Alison Smela is a writer, speaker, and an addiction recovery and health advocate. Through her blog Alison’s Insights www.alisonsmela.com, Alison shares her experience overcoming alcoholism and life-threatening eating disorder in midlife and how she now faces everyday challenges using recovery-based solutions. Feel free to connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, (@alisonsmela), or Instagram (alison.smela).