Are You Doing The Squeeze?
One of my most common stressful situations is trying to do too much. For me, it’s a constant process of taking on too much and then getting overloaded and then trying to find balance again.
My first attempt to find balance is always the same: I do the squeeze. I try to squeeze everything in. I do everything a little faster, and I try to find more efficient ways of doing things. In some ways, I’ve gotten really good at this with so much practice.
But there are hard limits. There are only so many hours in a day. And there is only so much energy in my body. At some point, I run out. Ironically, that’s when I squeeze and push the hardest in a last-ditch effort. So the more I need to rest, the less I give it to myself.
The Symptom For Me Is Rushing
When I notice that I’m rushing, it’s a pretty good indication that I’m doing the squeeze. When I’m eating fast, answering emails fast, writing my newsletter fast, doing The Work fast, that’s a sign to me that I’m actually doing too much.
The result of trying to squeeze so much into my life is that everything starts feeling superficial and not-so-satisfying. And fatigue (both physical and emotional) builds up.
I look yearningly at times when I was more balanced and I think it’s impossible to do now. But is it true?
Questioning The Thoughts That Keep Me Rushing
Just a little stepping back can make a difference. Just looking at the big picture and asking myself what is really important to me can help a lot. Here’s one way to do this process with The Work of Byron Katie (4 Questions and Turnarounds), a way to question what you think.
To do The Work on a situation like this, I have to first identify the thoughts that I am thinking. The first overarching thought is that I have to do it all. But let’s look in more closely. What do I believe I have to do, and why?
What Do I Have To Do?
For this part, I like to make a list of what I think I have to do. I also include what I want to do here (things that I’m attached to doing).
I want to exercise every morning.
I want to meditate every morning.
I want to cook a good breakfast.
I want to do The Work every morning.
I should write my newsletter every week.
I should do an Open Session every week.
I should offer private sessions.
I should spend more time in Inquiry Circle.
I should improve my system for The Work 101.
I should create other courses.
I should answer my emails.
I need to earn more money so I can hire more support.
I want to end my workday on time.
I want to become fluent in French.
I want to meditate longer in the afternoon.
I should finish the project of scanning Mom’s photos.
And the list goes on…
“Why?” Is The Next Important Question
For this part, I pick one of the things from the list above and go into more detail:
I want to become fluent in French.
I will feel good about myself if I do.
My grandmother would be proud of me.
Because I need to finish what I started.
It would be a shame to stop halfway.
Because I’m not a quitter.
This One Little List Gives Me Lots To Question
I can go through the four questions and turnarounds for each of these… “My grandmother would be proud of me if I become fluent, is it true?” Just writing this already gives me a peek into what I will find: that my grandmother was proud of me even when I didn’t learn French.
But even though I see a glimpse of the turnaround, I prefer to do The Work thoroughly and meditatively. The Work is not an intellectual thing. It is an experiential thing that builds step-by-step as I take my time with each question.
The idea of this exercise is simply to question my attachments to the things I do. I may still decide to continue studying French, but after this work, I might also be able to let it go.
The Antithesis of Squeezing Is Letting Go
I wonder if I did this work on all the parts of my day, week, month, and year what would stick and what would fall away. Rushing all the time is not fun for me. Could I let go of some of the things I’ve become attached to? If I could, it could mean more bandwidth for the most important things.
The only thing that stands in the way of a slower lifestyle is my attachments. And attachments can easily be questioned.
Have a great week,
“It’s only when we attach to mind that the false world of suffering appears.” Byron Katie, A Mind At Home With Itself
Further reading: Attachment to Heaven Is the Only Hell