What Time Pressure Costs Us

What Time Pressure Costs Us - HSP Health

patience © by rosmary

How do you feel about the time pressure of this impatient world we live in?

Personally, I hate it, yet I often feel that slow is “wrong”.

Slow means getting run off the road by someone faster.

Slow means “missing the boat” because you can only miss it by being slow.

The fast pace of our society has a life of its own. It feels like “reality” and when we drop out of the high speed movement of our economic culture it can seem like a form of death.

But if you look at it another way, our fast paced system can feel like a form of death as well.

It seems like a catch-22.

What Time Pressure Costs Us

When you have to work fast, in my experience you also have to focus. Focus is great, but under conditions of pressure, that focus becomes narrowed to whatever will enable us to create a quick result and move on to the next action or decision.

Essentially the demand for speed forces us to be short-sighted.

There is a paradox in this: being short-sighted and fast forces us to make a lot of changes, but it also forces us to seek solutions that are “accessible”, that in effect, keep us where we are, that are not really innovative or difficult. So the project that takes longer, the relationship that requires cultivation – these things often do not happen.

What does happen is actions, decision, and people that fit our time constraints but not necessarily our needs. This is one of the reasons we feel we are in a rat race or running fast on a treadmill going nowhere. Time pressure forces us into choices that keep us stuck.

The Bigger Loss

Time pressure costs us more than we realize. While we are getting through the day, the kinds of connections, moments and observations that come with engaging with each moment often elude us. We are too busy.

There are many big consequences of time pressure:

  • we live in our heads. We make decisions based on what is expedient. Our bodies and hearts do not get a voice in what we are doing. The system, after all, has its prerogatives and its demands which must be honored.
  • we lose the mind-body connection which is an important foundation of living and also of our health. Everything in our lives and experience is processed in our minds AND bodies. There is no escape. So when we live in our heads, we do not process all of our feelings through our bodies and become stuck and sick. Our bodies feel dragged down and we feel that we are dragging them along with us rather than living fully from them.
  • we are unable to really connect. Do you ever wonder why ideology is so entrenched? When people live in their heads and go too fast, they do not have time for human connection. So they relate from political ideas or entertainments or recreational activities but not usually to each other.
  • we lose our creativity. A fast time-based system particularly a mechanistic one prefers continuity and consistency to creativity. Novelty and some innovation that serves the system are allowed but not the full-bodied creativity of an awake human being.
  • we lose our part and place in the universe. We are creative human beings. So when we cannot rock the boat by being creative then we lose our basic nature to a cultural and economic construct.
  • we lose our common ground because we are each of us competing cogs in a machine rather than collaborating co-creators of our world, a way of thinking that honors us better.

Letting Go Of Time Pressure

Letting go of time pressure is hard to do. Slowing down can seem like a luxury.

However, particularly for highly sensitive people it is a necessity because it is the only way we can give rein to our creative natures. It is also the only way we can minimize the stress that comes from being highly sensitive and taking in all of the stimulus that we take in.

So embrace the eternal present! Luxuriate in it and honor your creative talents for the benefit of all.

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Time And Space

The Main Stairs Creative Commons License photo credit: Peter Alfred Hess

More and more I have been thinking about the relationship between time and space.

They have a very direct relationship.  The more attention you pay to time the less attention you pay to space.

They are two very different values.

They are also two antithetical values.

What Makes Time And Space Clash?

Western cultures operate on the belief that speed increases productivity and is a way to challenge limits. Speed forces focus and resources to one objective. Speed is force.

Time, or perhaps better speed which is fast time, creates an alternate reality. Speed increases intensity and forces us to compress our effort and attention into a small space of time. When we increase our intensity we are burning up our own resources – physical, mental and emotional. We are consuming ourselves.

Speed consumes the space of our attention as well and in doing so removes other matters from our attention. Emergencies then become the highest claim for our attention. The easiest way to control the human agenda is through emergency. It controls the social space and attention space, and shoves simpler, often more important considerations to the side.

Speed And Creativity

Some people think that by going fast you can bypass the critical mind and negative programming and therefore makes you freer. Essentially, speed is being used to shut out parts of ourselves that are wounded or unhealthy to increase our productivity and creativity.  We are shutting out parts of ourselves through speed.

There is validity to these methods; however, it seems unfortunate that we have to deny an important part of ourselves to be creative. Whenever we treat a part of ourselves as the “enemy” we lose an ally for our creativity. There is always a price to pay for denying a part of ourselves and any part of ourselves is needed for us to be fully functioning.

When we work this way we are using time to control space – the space of our attention. But what we are doing is trying to trick ourselves into being focused and effective.

Time And Productivity

The evidence is all around us that speed is not a good basis for living or problem solving. Whatever we achieve through speed often comes at a high cost.

Relying on speed is an attempt to achieve success by rushing. And if we can rush those who are on the receiving end of our rushed work, perhaps they can be rushed into not noticing the flawed work they are receiving.

Time And Space As Values

Time pressure actually makes us stingy with our time and attention. It  causes us to become sloppy. It forces to value that which consumes little time over that which might be relevant, material and valuable. It harms us when we need to do good work and are rushed into something less than our best. It causes us to feel bad about ourselves, and over time erodes our self-esteem and will cause us to question our worth. Deep down we know something is wrong.

Space is such a different value. Space lets a situation or task’s necessities dictate the attention we bring to it. Space is generous. When we make space for whatever we need to make space for, a learning, a grieving, a task, we are also making space for ourselves. We don’t have to look over our shoulders hoping that we are not in someone’s way or out of step with a schedule that has no room for us. Space lets us be who we are and bring what we bring to the table. Space looks to let information in not shut out what it does not want.  Space does not have a predetermined outcome.

Space works with not against. Space is communitarian not competitive. Space includes everything so there is nothing to reject or exclude. Space is a kind of heaven. Time pressure is a kind of hell. For highly sensitive people, environments that have a value of space are the ones that make the most sense for their holistic natures.

Tyranny of the Clock

 

Clock © by Earls37a

People in an economic system based on production learn to live with the tyranny of the clock.  Although people have been tracking time since the early days of humans, this is different.  Time used to be related to something going on in nature.  People measured the hours of sunshine, the seasons, and how long crops took to grow.  The day began when the sun came up and ended when it set.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have changed our relationship to time and nature. We began to see nature as something we control.  Perhaps because we felt so out of control in relation in nature, weather was so unpredictable, the basic needs of people were not being met, and disease was rampant.  And, at the time, natural resources were so plentiful. So we created a machine to harness natural resources to take care of our basic needs and kept on going.  Now we do not seem to be able to stop.

There were understandable reasons for what we have created.  Human society was saddled with all sorts of limits that needed to be challenged.  Time has become a tool for challenging limits and productivity evaluates how well we produce in a specific period of time.  Our educational system is organized around time.  We have a certain period of time to learn a given amount of material, whether we learn or not is often irrelevant, when time is up, time is up.

When time controls how much attention we give to something or someone, we relinquish control over our lives because we are not really engaging with life and the realities around us.  If it takes two years to learn a subject that is allotted only six months time, then essentially one’s learning is controlled by the demand for speed. If it takes 2 hours to accomplish a task well and one hour is all that is allowed, again we relinquish control over our lives, and the quality in it by the demand for speed.  If it takes a year to grieve the loss of a friend, and the people around you demand that you grieve quicker, then your life is diminished by the demand for speed.

The demand for speed is a serious issue for highly sensitive people since creativity, deep listening, and serious problem solving do not lend themselves to time pressure. HSP’s inevitably suffer from distracting and unhelpful conflicts when they are expected to work under artificial, and unnecessarily restrictive time schedules.

The tyranny of the clock does not allow for the freely engaged way of relating to living and problem solving that results in deep satisfaction and as a result is bound to be unsatisfying to highly sensitive people.