Has Productivity Become Our God?
I searched for god and found only myself. I searched myself and found only god.
I went to a Gabby Bernstein event on Friday night. To be very honest I had never heard of her before and when I was offered some free tickets to go along I thought why not! It was a really lovely evening and also very inspiring to watch how Gabby was able to work in such an intimate way with so many in a room. It inspired me!
One thing that she did talk about that has stayed with me since was how she has recently discovered in herself that she had begun to make ‘Productivity her God”. Meaning, she was putting her goals, achievements, her success, her career, her schedules all at the highest priority. And had stopped taking the time to just connect in the moment, to hold her husbands hand, to look in the eyes of a friend, to just ‘be’ with herself and connect with spirit. Out of everything she talked about, this is what struck me, and left me feeling deeply uncomfortable and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.
Was I making productivity my god? In short…….. yes!
Hello, I’m Nicky and I’m a productivity addict and over achiever! Gulp!
My whole life I have been someone that has been ambitious. From the age of 4 I remember having a raging fire in my belly to do something really meaningful with this life I had. Yup, 4 years old!! And many many times this fire has and is a very beautiful asset of mine and one that many who know me may compliment me on.
“If Nicky says she’ll do something, then you know it will be done!” – yeah, this is good right?
Not always I’m afraid.
I have also been someone that has spent my life searching. Searching for the ‘thing’ outside of myself that was going to make me happy, make me feel amazing, make me feel loved, and be the answer to EVERYTHING for me.
Essentially (But of-course I didn’t know at the time) because what I was feeling on the inside didn’t feel good at all.
Through my teens, I found alcohol & drugs – anything that would take me ‘up and out of myself’. Make me higher, feel more amazing, more confident, more beautiful. I dieted and exercised for hours on end, focusing on my appearance and weight to desperately try and look like someone that felt amazing, more confident, loveable.
Then as I left my addict years behind and my eating disorders, I moved on to the perfect way of eating – maybe this is what’s going to be the answer? All ruthlessly ambitious, constantly visualising myself ahead of me being this someone ‘amazing’!. Bulldozing my way through life to achieve and build the life I wanted and sometimes (often) making it more important than the people in it.
When I look back to those days, I don’t remember really feeling all that peaceful and I don’t remember feeling amazing for very long. What I do remember is feeling pretty exhausted by it all.
As most of you all know, I live a very different life today to how I did then. But although the outside details are very different, after seeing and hearing Gabby talk I realised my behaviour had become very similar again lately. Thank you Gabby for the reminder.
My work… something I am so deeply passionate about…. something that is so meaningful to me and a job where I do help a lot of people….. besides being a mamma….. had become all that I thought about! What more can I achieve this year? What more can I do? Who else can I help?
And then yesterday I had a moment that slapped me so hard in the face I just couldn’t hide from it anymore. It was Sunday and I had been working all morning. Something I rarely do but ‘had’ to this time – It was 1pm and I had just completed 3 hours of counselling sessions when my baby girl and husband were meant to come home and meet me for lunch.
1:10… still no show. I’ll call him (my hubby)… straight to voice-mail. Hmmm…. ok… so I made myself some lunch and sat on the sofa and ate. 1:25…. still no show…. I’ll call him again… voicemail. I noticed how fidgety I was getting, I picked up my lunch ate a little, then picked up my phone and started scrolling through instagram…. 1:45… still no show. I picked up my laptop and started writing another recipe. I picked up my phone again…. twitter….. then I wrote a to do list for Monday.
2pm… still no show and phone still going to voice-mail. Now I’m feeling really uncomfortable…. which to any mother out there may seem utterly insane as usually moments alone at home to ourselves is like a precious gift!! I turned on the TV and started scrolling some more….. And then Gabby’s voice ran through my head….. “Productivity your god?”.
Shit…. I literally could not just sit in the stillness. I had just advised one of my clients to create more quiet and space for herself and there I was fidgeting all over the place completely avoiding connecting with myself at all. I realised that even when I meditated that morning, I did it in a way that was ticking it off my list!
I turned the TV off. I hid my phone under the sofa cushions and I put my laptop away. And I began to breathe.. Just breathe. I noticed the birds were singing in my garden. And as I breathed I noticed I was feeling quite tired in my body. I noticed I felt empty and a little lonely. I kept breathing.
Breath and more breath.
As each breath entered my body I surrendered more to that moment. As each breath entered my body I landed more in the silence and the quiet. As each breath entered my body i noticed the struggle dissipate. And in the silence, in the surrender, I began to connect again with spirit.
Oh hello God! Sorry, I have had my head so far up my ass I had completely ignored you!
And the more I let myself connect to spirit the more I relaxed. My heart began to open and I just lay down and rested my head. It was blissful. Birds singing, quiet, god, connection, relaxing, rest, myself, my emptiness, my loneliness, my heart. Blissful. Uncomfortable. Blissful.
3pm… my husband and daughter walk through the door and my laptop, phone and to do lists stayed away for the rest of that Sunday. Well… for most of it anyway!!
It seems so easy now a days, to keep striving, achieving, doing in our lives to try and make ourselves and our life better, happier. But will any of it mean anything at all if we are not connected within ourselves? Will any of it mean anything at all if there is no connected to something deeper? Or if there is just no connection full stop?
I had dinner with some girlfriends on Sat night, one of which is one of the top best selling fiction authors in the world at the moment. She told me that last year, when her book started rocketing into the stratosphere and she had to go from one public event to another (everything that she had ever strived for and dreamed of) inside she felt deeply lonely. That same year, behind closed doors, she fell into a deep depression something she never expected and was certainly not prepared for. And had to begin the journey of going inward and healing from the inside out.
I was so grateful for her honesty and for the reminder that nothing, NOTHING on the outside will bring us peace and happiness. Even though so much of the world tells us this. Especially now when social media is so prominent.
Striving for our goals and dreams is important, taking actions to build them into reality is essential but without an anchor to ourselves, a connection to something deeper, a grounding in our body, it is all just stuff that is happening.
It’s all about balance. Not one without the other. One and the other.
Build for the life you want on the outside. Spend time nourishing the life you have on the inside.
So, if you, like me relate to this, and are finding that you are also endlessly in your productivity and have made it far more important then being in the quiet, still, intimate moments of your life, then I am writing this post for you. You are not alone. I bet you so many relate – I relate.
Life is so precious. Before we know it we will pass on. So often I hear elders say that the most important things in life are not so much what we’ve achieved but who we’ve loved. And what we may remember at the end of our lives is not the list of successes on our CV or the amount of money in our bank, but the feelings we’ve experienced and the connections we’ve had. The inner journey that we’ve taken.
Let’s not bull doze our way through our lives. Yes, build your dreams. Follow your hearts and be fearless in your endeavours. But please remember to slow down enough to connect to the moments in between. To connect to the ones you love and that love you. To connect with yourselves. To connect with spirit/nature/god.
Take this time. Make this time. I am going to.
These are the things that make it all enriched, worthwhile, grounded and truly magical.
Be Nourishing. Strive for Freedom and always aim for Balance.
Wishing you all a beautiful, love filled, nourishing week.
May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us. Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.
– Mother Theresa