Finding ways to make the most of our time is a common pursuit these days. Multi-tasking, delegating and prioritizing can be effective ways to use time efficiently, however, the push to do all you can in order to be all you can is often the very notion that pushes people over the edge. In my last post, I shared 4 tips to tackle change and noted maximizing productivity as one the common reasons people avoid rest. On the surface it looks harmless, yet we need to be honest with ourselves. Are we trying to do more because we believe we are not enough?
Because no one knows everything or can do everything, we will all experience being uninformed, unaware, incompetent and unable. These experiences might be accompanied with embarrassment, humour, curiosity, humility, sobriety and clarity. If these experiences are perceived as opportunities to learn they can launch us into areas of development and fulfillment. Not knowing something or being unable to do something does not have to end in shame or self-loathing. Feeling shame and hatred towards one’s self in response to things that everyone in life experiences indicates the presence of unfair expectations and unhealthy beliefs.
While feeling inadequate is unpleasant, it is not necessarily unhealthy. Believingyou are inadequate as a person because you lack a particular skill, experience or personality trait isunhealthy. Believing you are inadequate is often connected to believing you are unworthy and unlovable. These beliefs lock people out of happy relationships with themselves and others. They stop people from recognizing their true worth which is a key to enjoying life. These patterns of thought can lead people to pursue “success” or “accomplishments”,such as fame, fortune or even relationships with the goal of feeling important. They believe these things will give them significance and validate their existence.
I used to believe that my worth came from my ability to do or achieve certain things. When I was eight years old I started going to a new school with children who were much more advanced than I was. I assumed they were smarter because they knew more. A couple bad grades cemented that belief as well as many other untrue ideas I had about myself. As a result I had trouble asking questions because I thought my ignorance meant I was unintelligent. This continued all the way into grad school. Isn’t it odd, that we go to school to learn but expect to know everything or understand everything immediately??? I really can’t remember when the following reality hit me, but I am glad it did: Being a life-long learner means that I will never know everything. Embracing this reality was freeing. I have felt inadequate MANY times in my life and probably will feel inadequate many more times in the future, however, I have learned that how I feel is not WHAT or WHO I am.
In my “Deep Appreciation” workshop I highlight the difference between competence and character, the two components of self-esteem. My esteem is not based on what I do. Yet, there is definitely a connection between who I am and what I do. In fact, knowing and valuing who I am enhances what I do. An awareness and appreciation for who I am also gives me clues about what I will find fulfilling in the future.
If maximizing your productivity is an attempt to validate your significance, I hope that you take the time to reflect on who you are beyond what you do. Would you do it if no one noticed? Would you find it just as fulfilling? If so, pay attention to what traits enable you to do what it is that you find so much value in and you will likely have a renewed sense of satisfaction as you continue being who you are as you do what you do.
Until next time, take care!