No Time? Really?

People come for therapy with all kinds of problems. They’re depressed or anxious and feel unmotivated to change. They have low energy, poor self-esteem or they’re bitter about having been hurt. They know they ought to get regular physical exercise, because exercising helps those conditions, but … what do I hear? “I am so busy, you have no idea. Things have been just crazy. I don’t have time for anything, it’s go-go-go every day.” 

Here’s something to consider. The way we spend our time shows what we really value. But, wait. In many cases what we really value is not what we ‘say’ we value. Do you know of any famous entertainers who scream bloody murder about violence towards women and sexual harassment, and spend time volunteering at women’s shelters? Not likely. They spend their time at parties, because that’s how they make the important connections in Hollywood. They spend lots of money on drugs, which enriches the cartels, which enslave women in sex trafficking. Another egregious example is the rich professional athlete  – he might say that social justice is his number one priority; but in fact he spends almost no time pursuing it.

If someone were to ask what’s important to you, would you be able to give a clear answer? Some people could do so, others would not. And it might be fair to say that some of the people who would answer that question with confidence would be saying something that’s not exactly true.

Years ago, I watched a reality television show about drug intervention counseling. This was not staged; it was real time, in the home of the drug addict. The counselor was working to help a female alcoholic who was married with children. Like so many chemical addiction counselors, he did not sugar-coat the situation. When the woman, weeping, kept protesting, “But I love my children, I love my family”, the counselor was in her face immediately and said, “You love the bottle more, though, don’t you? Admit it. That’s what you spend your time with! That’s what you really love!” The woman broke. The tears and sobs doubled in intensity and she had to agree that it was her behavior, not her words, which revealed her true love. It was not her family; it was booze.

When distressed couples disclose that they have no time together because they’re “so busy”, I challenge that. What are you busy with? How are you spending your time? Are you manufacturing busy-ness in order to avoid spending time together? Are you keeping occupied, because you can’t tolerate peace and quiet? Or maybe you can’t tolerate each other, unless you’re doing something. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a lot of discontent among couples; I’ve never had so many requests for couples counseling. Forced to be at home together, many of them find they don’t enjoy each other’s company. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not funny to them. They’ve been using “busy-ness” to avoid real connection. They have become addicted to being busy, and to spend their time doing something they would call productive, or essential. They’re fooling themselves.

Quite frankly, when I hear a client say that part of their problem is that they have no time, I have to tell myself, ‘Whoa. Control yourself. Be nice’. You see, that is because my B.S. detector is going off. 

It can be argued that the only thing we really have in this life … is time. So, here’s a little exercise you might consider. Try taking an inventory of your weekly activities, notice how you are spending your time and ask yourself if the things you’re doing are necessary. Furthermore, what do your choices say about your real priorities?

When you do so, you might just re-think how you use your time. If that turns out to be the case, you may not need to consult a professional. But if you’d like to get some practical feedback, please feel free to call. The number is (219) 309-3928. I’d be honored to be of service.

For some additional thoughts, click here HONESTY

Thanks for reading!