Is ‘Cramming Lots In’ causing you stress?

Is your ‘Race to Fit it All In’ causing Stress? – Here’s some information that will help – It’s OK to take your time.

Perhaps you have values around speed, efficiency and responsiveness? The way you seem to ‘enjoy’ having too much to do, your positive response to short deadlines and your energy peaks under pressure have given you a reputation within your organisation.

These values are positive. They may have got you this great career and, if you have enough energy to keep them up, that’s fine.

As a therapist though I know that each of these worthy values comes with some ‘internal messages’ like  ‘Don’t take long’, ‘Don’t waste time’, ‘Don’t relax’ or ‘Don’t think’.

These internal messages are quite demanding and can result in internal pain or internal stress (You may have external stresses too like a new team, a new manager, a new home or a recent loss).

In our early family taking these values very seriously (e.g. keeping up, speed, efficiency) was likely to have been a way to stay ‘OK’ around a parent-figure. This parent-figure may have even modelled the values themselves.

Do you have an idea of who this parent figure might have been? Who was it who –

  • Needed you to keep up with them or another family member
  • Arrived late, or needed to leave early
  • Seemed like a ‘ship that passed in the night’
  • Fidgeted, spoke quickly or finished your sentences for you.
  • Made mistakes in the detail

Being ‘OK’ around this parent figure may well have been a useful strategy for receiving ‘positive strokes’, avoiding criticism, or even staying safe. But those days are gone. If ‘Hurrying Up’ is causing you internal pain then things need to change.

As human beings our resources are limited and this limitation needs to be accounted for.

It’s really hard on yourself to expect to ‘Hurry Up’ all the time, and this constant rush may not bring the most effective outcomes. In most cases effectiveness is maximised by allowing yourself to ‘Take Time’.

Some Challenges

How would it be to make a ‘to do’ list of essentials only, create an undemanding schedule and stick to it

How would it be to speak slowly and allow others to finish what they’re saying

Can you take some time to just ‘be’, just sit with someone, or to express to someone how much you value them?

Can you be on time by not waiting to the last minute, or by not cramming in one more thing before you leave?

Making Changes

For a more complete picture of what your ‘driver behaviours’ might be, take a look at my page entitled ‘Experiencing Stress at Work?‘ and complete the ‘Driver Questionnaire’ which is available there.

If you start experiencing something uncomfortable when you allow yourself to ‘take your time’ then revert back to your values for a while.

Everyone is different and any self-help process can only offer ideas in general terms.  It may be that going against these old ‘internal messages’ means some deeper work.

Why not book an initial assessment session with a counsellor/therapist who is registered with a nationally recognised professional body (such as BACP or UKCP in the UK)?

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