For years I've telling my clients (and friends alike) that running all over the place doing things brings only illusion and meaninglessness in our lives. Driving around from one "errance" or "appointment" to another, cramming in "activities" for them and their children, scheduling "playdates" (nobody really notices anymore how close to ridiculous this word is?.. Do you really need a date to play?!.. World renown Danish family therapist Jesper Juul names play as the one of the only 4 things children really need. The other 3 are food, shelter and affection).
It seems to me that anger, anxiety and conflict are the three major symptoms of a life that not only is unnecessarily busy, but it is cluttered in a habitual manner, in order to avoid dealing precisely with the sources of anxiety, anger and conflict.
It is Rollo May, in its "Freedom and Destiny", who points out a truth that we seem to be eager to ignore:
"The pause is especially important for the freedom of being. what I have called essential freedom. For it is in the pause that we experience the context out of which freedom comes. [...] When we don't pause, when we are perpetually hurrying from one appointment to another, from one 'planned activity' to another, we sacrifice the richness of wonder. And we lose communication with our destiny."
And it is the contemporary Tim Kreider who reframes the same issue, just in a more popular manner, in his New York Times article The 'Busy' Trap:
"It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence."
The poster contains all the necessary words, just in a different order: "Like", and "we need your support". As I said in a previous commentary to the NY Times article (“The Island Where People Forgot to Die”), it is the meaning, the metacommunication that occurs beyond the verbal what matters the most. The fine line between humorous and offensive creates a sort of adrenaline rush. I believe that sarcasm, in its most complex forms, creates a psychological double bind and psychological tension. Depending on circumstances, this tension will be released either toward anger/aggression, either toward a relief, a relaxation.
Part of my work (www.synergiscounseling.com/anger-coaching) is to help clients identify (real or perceived) psychological double binds. They can be present within any social system: work environment, group of friends, family, couple relationship, community, nation, etc. In fact, since we are in the middle of it, politicians use very often psychological double binds to push the voters in the desired direction.
"Neither adults nor children can thrive when uninitiated adults condemn spontaneous manifestations of their being. In this connection, the only difference between children and adults is that for a few years in their lives, children are under the impression that the world was created for them and that their parents are omnipotent and perfect. They will soon enough learn that this is not the way thing are; they don't need to be humiliated in the process." (Jespre Juul).
The difficulty of this process of transition is what often generates hidden, long term frustration, anger and aggression in the future adult. The aggression can be directed towards outside, and therefore visible, or towards self (inwards) and probably less visible. It ranges from aggressive behavior towards others to self-destructive behavior. A common self-destructive behavior is the addictive behavior, resulting from the compulsive and obsessive repetition of an certain action/activity: abuse of substances, food, sex, work, physical exercise, etc., aimed at numbing and diverting attention from what has been generating that anger for years. Of course, some compulsions are way less destructive than other. Physical exercise, for example, rarely becomes harmful. And being a workaholic is definitely better than being chemically and psychologically addicted to oxycontin or cocaine. What is important here is to ask yourself this question: what is that I am running away from? Why do I experience the obsessive need to avoid pain or gain pleasure?
"Quality of interaction overrules attitude and method" (JESPER JUUL).
What does that mean? It means, for example, the following: you are the VP of sales of a high-tech company. You come to see me because, for a few months now, you have noticed that some of your staff is exhibiting periodically passive-aggressive behavior. You are stunned and you do not understand why is this happening, since you always "behaved correctly" in front of them, you were always "mindful" and you had "the right attitude".
At this point I don't even need to know what you mean by "behaved correctly", "mindful" and "the right attitude". But I ask anyway, because it is important for you to lay down the circumstances, like a lego construction, which afterwards you will take apart and reconstruct the way you want.
I say that I am not interested in what you mean by these expressions simply because, although there are hundreds of correct attitudes and behaviors promoted by organizational consulting gurus, what matters the most is this: QUALITY OF INTERACTION. The quality of your interactions and relationships, as a VP of sales, with your staff and colleagues. Of course, as a leader it is very important to be able to set the correct boundaries and so on. But no best-selling books can teach you what is THE attitude and method. Simply because only you, XYZ, the VP of sales at Etc-High-Tech, Inc., know the people you are working with. A genuine, quality interaction with your staff is what will fix the problem.
How do I know that? Because I saw "the miraculous" change in ANY relationship (at work, with partners, spouses, children and friends) where an effort was made to replace what was believed to be the correct attitude and method with a genuine, good quality interaction, based on equal dignity and respect.
So I'll say it one more time:
"Quality of interaction overrules attitude and method".
Try it for yourself and you'll find out. And if it doesn't work, come and see me, I'll give you a free 1h consultation, face to face, in the office. No kidding!