I had a client once who when asked what had prompted her to call me said: “I am here because I recently realized that I have become a human doing and I want to be a human being.” As her story unfolded, she talked about how she had become sick with a chronic pain condition which gradually took over her body and her life. She described how as she increasingly lost function, the warrior in her had presented itself each and every step of the way. She had begun as a successful singer. When she could no longer sing, she played music; when she could no longer play music, she taught; and when she could no longer teach, she began to help those less fortunate than her. While listening, I was awed by her courage and resilience but, then her story took quite a turn. She said that she only began to see the flaw in the tapestry of her life when her capacity to function became so compromised that there were few options for achievement left. She related it was at this point that she finally had an earth shattering realization: she had lived her life functioning more like a machine than a human believing that without the ability to do and achieve, she was of little worth.
While most people do not reach this point of crisis, many of us are on the treadmill of life, thinking that we have to be productive, otherwise, we are of little value. Busyness and performance have become a way of life. As one client who works as a civil engineer put it: “I live my life at such speed that there is no margin for error. I have no room for a flat tire in my day.” We are living life as fast as we can and in the process missing out on huge chunks of it! Without any time to sit still, think and reflect, we have effectively eradicated any feelings of discomfort. However, in the process, we have also blocked out any sense of joy. Being productive and achieving can bring great joy and self-esteem. If it defines you, however, it can be deadly. Make sure you have time to just be.