I have recently asked myself: “Have we as humans expedited everything so much that it’s maladaptive?”
Can we do things so quickly that they lose meaning or value? Are we so overstimulated with our lifestyles so much that while we can process more information faster than ever it’s at a cost? And that cost is that we don’t fully process any of it. We have pets we don’t take care of or spend as much time with, we watch tv and play games on our phone, never fully focused on either. We have spouses we don’t talk to or sleep with. We have children we just shuttle around from one activity or important accomplishment to another. Faster and faster it all goes until it’s all noise and no signal.
No wonder that 2020 has been such a hard year, that this unsustainable lifestyle has been forcibly ground to halt to some degree for all of us. There is some forced simplicity we are all struggling with whether it’s more time with our families (for better or for worse), or less money, or less certainty. And without the whirlwind of distractions usually available to us we find ourselves out of control and without coping skills. We see that we are so disconnected from an organic, simple life it’s shocking to absorb. And if we do see that and emphatically declare “I want a simple, organic life! I want connection with my partner and or my children!” when we attempt it, we realize how difficult it is and how hard we have to work to unravel our own habits of efficiency and or selective attention to accomplishment or reward, or immediacy in all senses. We realize it’s hard to be present in the moment, whatever that is, without escaping it to move on to the next thing. This is a very “mindfulness” feeling monologue but as an EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapist) I think this speaks to how we have devalued our emotions. They aren’t fast and efficient unless it’s anxiety which makes us more effective in our society but at the cost to our own health and emotional and relational well-being. To that end, one of my catchphrases in therapy that I learned from my wise supervisor Connie is “slow down”. As 2020 ends and the world continues to speed up, let’s challenge ourselves to slow down and be more emotionally connected to ourselves, our loved ones, and the moment.
Slowing down can be difficult: turning off all electronics, making eye contact, and being more affectionate are all ways to start slowing down. Therapy is also a great way to slow down. It’s a sacred space to regain that connection with your partner or family member, to start to process your own emotions, and learn to give words to how you feel. If you come to my office, I will slow you down as you sit with your emotions and verbalize them, realizing a new and more self-aware and effective tempo.