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10 Signs You’re A Working Mother Addicted To Busyness

10 Signs You’re A Working Mother Addicted To Busyness

As a working mom, it’s easy to get caught in the swirl of busyness! Trying to be all things, to all people, all of the time (a.k.a. Super Woman).

You’re expected to have it all, right?! To be a successful entrepreneur, loving mom, and sexy wife. To keep a gorgeous home, be the ultimate socialite and hostess, a four-star chef and still find time to workout and stay in great shape.

Yeah right!

No time for what’s important in life? Always feel like you’re running faster and faster on the hamster wheel but can’t get off? Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, frazzled and fried?

Well, we hate to tell you but you might have fallen prey to Addiction to Busyness Syndrome (ATBS). It’s a chronic habit of always filling up your schedule, keeping busy and doing, doing, doing to maintain your Super Woman cape and badge of honor.

Now, you might be wondering, how does it creep up on you and take over your life?

In today’s fast paced world, we seem to honor those who accomplish a lot, do a lot and can magically keep all the balls of responsibility up in the air. But what we’ve come to realize through my recovery process is that it’s really about filling the need of our ego to “look good”, “have it all together” and be “worthy” as individuals.

It’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you if you just do one more thing, then you’ll finally be good enough, smart enough, successful enough.

It’s as if we’re trying to validate our existence through action. We’ve lost the ability to sit quietly and just be with our selves to hear the whispers of our soul.

You see, the more busy you become, the less time you have to actually feel the stuff that might be difficult in your life. Those “learning opportunities for growth,” as we like to call them. It’s the emotional way of sweeping things under the rug or looking the other way. Because who wants to feel the all those icky emotions like fear and doubt?

In her book, ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown tells us that numbing behaviors are a way to armor against vulnerability (showing others who you really are).

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And if you think numbing doesn’t apply to you because you’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol, she clarifies this by saying, “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”

Is any of this ringing true for you? Are you numbing out on busyness? How might you be hiding behind your list of To-Do’s, phone calls and meetings?

If you notice yourself showing any of these signs, you too may be addicted to busyness:

1. You check your phone and email constantly.

Keeping in touch is one thing, but obsessing about being in touch is another. If you find yourself starting to quiver when you’re more than 10 feet from your smart phone or computer, you may have ATBS.

Keys to recovery: Consider creating a digital detox zone in your life. Perhaps it’s in the evenings or over the weekend. “Step away from your devices ma’am!” Give yourself a break and focus on the other areas of your life that need your time, attention and love.

2. Your schedule is packed full from stem to stern.

If you’re so busy that you’re schedule is booked down to the minute, you might need to make some changes. Having no wiggle room or down time in your daily schedule can be detrimental to your health.

Keys to recovery: It’s important to take time to stop, pause, reflect and just catch your breath. If need be, book mini appointments with yourself throughout your day to step away from your desk/computer/phone and just breath deeply for 10 minutes while you take a walk around.

This will get your blood flowing, stimulate your brain and refocus your vision to help you prevent eye-strain.

3. You complain about being Super Woman.

Do you find yourself complaining about how busy you are while secretly feeling proud of yourself for being able to “handle it all” like Super Woman, even though you’re mentally and physically exhausted? Our ego LOVES to feel important. It can be a core driver of success for many people.

Your ego might sound something like this: “I’m needed, I’m important, because ‘I’m In Demand’. This makes me ‘worthy’, right?”

No. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to find other places/activities that feed your self worth as well as your spirit. Your title is NOT all that you are! The world will not come to an end if you step away from your work.

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Keys to recovery: Volunteer at your child’s school or some organization that enriches your spirit and allows you to be of contribution. Whatever it is, find something that helps utilize the other amazing talents you have that fill you up AND help create a better work life-balance.

4. Your relationships are being negatively impacted by your busyness.

When you give someone your full attention, they can feel it. It’s actually a gift that you give them. Conversely, when you’re constantly looking at your phone, fielding emails or phone calls when you’re talking with someone, it lands as disrespectful for the other person.

You’re subconsciously telling that person (partner, child, friend) that the phone call or email is more important in this moment than they are. This can leave someone with a bad taste in their mouth and over time can build up a layer of resentment.

Keys to recovery: When you’re home with your family or out with friends, Be with them fully. Listen to their stories, their jokes, their woes.

When you can do this, they’ll feel more seen, heard and loved by you, which goes a long, long way for building strong relationships. It also models loving and respectful behavior for your children (and your partner) to reflect back at you and with others.

working mom

    5. You get fidgety when you try to just sit still.

    When was the last time you just sat and relaxed? No, really, relaxed? If you can only count on one hand when you gave yourself permission to just sit, relax and ponder your toes over the last month, you might need a busyness intervention.

    Keys to recovery: Relaxing is an art. Take time to revel in it, doing nothing at all – perhaps just watching the birds outside while sipping a cup o’ tea.

    Meditating is a great way to give your working mind a way to relax because you can tell yourself “I’m working at relaxing.” It’s a practice, a muscle that needs to be developed just like going to the gym.

    This tells the part of you that doesn’t want to sit idle (for fear of not accomplishing something), that you have a goal to achieve (which, by the way, fosters the release of dopamine in your brain, one of your feel good, happy chemicals).

    6. You have a fear of boredom.

    Empty space can mean boredom. Boredom means you might have to be with what IS. And the “what is” might be uncomfortable, so always having a book, or your smart phone or tablet with you is a way to avoid the empty spaces in between the busy parts.

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    If you fill up the empty spaces with yet more stuff, more “doing”, you can avoid feeling the things you don’t want to feel.

    Keys to recovery: Next time you find yourself with some empty space, instead of filling it with another busyness diversion, how about just thinking about what you’re grateful for.

    As you focus on what you’re grateful for, your brain naturally releases serotonin (another one of those great happy chemicals), which leaves you feeling good, feeling valued and boosts your confidence.

    7. You’re constantly on the run and live in a continuous state of adrenaline-fueled stress.

    Between running your business, managing your kids, cooking dinner, attending soccer games, and an assortment of other obligations and activities, when do you stop and take time to breathe? Being busy isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s all bringing you some joy.

    It’s when it moves from busy, to addicted to busy, to burned out, that you’ve got a problem.

    The constant state of stress that you keep yourself plugged into can take a serious toll on your health, impacting your immune system, depleting your adrenal glands and potentially creating a cascade of other ill effects on your body such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

    Keys to recovery: Determine what your core values are that are most important to you and make time for those things. For example, carve out time to eat dinner with your family and talk.

    Get out of your head and tune into them and the events of their day. This sets a great example for your kids that they’re important, it helps you to slow down and breathe, and gives you all time to connect at a deeper level.

    8. You feel guilty when you actually do have down time and wonder what you’re forgetting.

    If you’re like me, you might have a running to-do list either in your head or on a sticky note or in it’s own special notebook. Especially as a working mom, there is ALWAYS something you need to do, could be doing, or should be doing (at least that is what you’re telling yourself).

    So when you actually do have that time to relax there is still that little person in your brain reviewing the list, whispering in your ear “Have you completed this?”, “Shouldn’t you be doing this instead of just sitting there doing nothing?” You know that voice I’m talking about.

    Keys to recovery: The best way to quiet the voice is to review your list and decide what can be dropped, delegated or dealt with at the appropriate time and place. Once you’ve gone over your list, then put it aside and enjoy your RnR time. You deserve it!

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    9. You find it difficult to focus on the task at ha… ooh a squirrel!

    Read this, do that, answer this email, sit in on that conference call… and the list goes on. You’re a card carrying member of the Super Woman club no doubt, with a variety of awards for multi-tasker of the year, we’re sure. The problem is, all that multi-tasking really is just fracturing your ability to focus.

    Keys to recovery: The truth is, your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Yup. Recent neuroscience tells us when you’re multi-tasking there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain. Which actually costs time, instead of saving you time.

    Even though it’s in micro second bursts, it’s still only processing one thing at a time. So you’re better off, spending a designated amount of time on one thing before switching to the next thing. You’ll be more productive and focused and less stressed.

    10. You constantly feel like you’re under pressure because “there isn’t enough time.”

    No time to take care of yourself, to workout, eat right, have some downtime with your girlfriends etc. This is actually a way of procrastinating and avoiding the bigger game that your spirit it’s calling you towards. When you take time to pause, de-stress and get rejuvenated you’re actually able to think more clearly, be more focused and more productive.

    We know it sounds crazy for you busyness addicts, but slowing down is actually the best way to speed up. Funny thing is, your ego actually wants you to stay in this state of overwhelm to justify it existence and keep you in a place of ‘status quo’, hiding out and playing small.

    So how can you outsmart your ego?

    Keys to recovery: Master your mindset. Your thoughts drive your emotions, actions and reactions. They also trigger the work of your Amygdala, your fight, flight or freeze mechanism in your limbic brain.

    The more aware you become of your worries, fears and doubts that are running you ragged, the more consciously you can reclaim your power back from those fears and gain control over your mindset (and quiet your ego).

    All of which feeds your spirit, and will help you step more boldly into the most brilliant, brightest version of yourself that you have to offer your family, friends and your work in the world.

    black-single-mother

      Yes, slowing down may feel counter productive.

      As you free up your mental bandwidth for the things that really are important and let go of the extraneous details that don’t matter, you’ll find yourself breathing more deeply, finding more joy in your day and having more time to spend with family, friends and yourself.

      Hit reply and tell us abut how you’re overcoming your Addiction to Busyness. We’d love to know!

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      Last Updated on October 22, 2020

      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

      How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

      Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

      When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

      Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

      What Makes People Poor Listeners?

      Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

      1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

      Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

      Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

      It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

      2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

      This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

      Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

      3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

      It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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      I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

      If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

      4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

      While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

      To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

      My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

      Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

      Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

      How To Be a Better Listener

      For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

      1. Pay Attention

      A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

      According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

      As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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      I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

      2. Use Positive Body Language

      You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

      A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

      People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

      But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

      According to Alan Gurney,[2]

      “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

      Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

      3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

      I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

      Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

      Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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      Be polite and wait your turn!

      4. Ask Questions

      Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

      5. Just Listen

      This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

      I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

      I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

      6. Remember and Follow Up

      Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

      For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

      According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

      It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

      7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

      If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

      Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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      Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

      Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

      NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

      1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
      2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

      8. Maintain Eye Contact

      When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

      Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

      By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

      Final Thoughts

      Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

      You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

      And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

      More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
      [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
      [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
      [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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