T.S. Eliot stated, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” To avoid the reality of feeling our feelings and doing what we truly desire, we have become very skilled in doing anything but what we soulfully want to do.
Ego often negates what matters most to our soul, and thus, we live half-filled lives of ‘everything’s fine’ and yet, deep-down hope for something better. We look to external sources for fulfillment, often turning to addictive behaviours to aid with our distractions from what we really want.
We are quite skilled at focusing on and doing activities that are less important and take us away from doing what is important. Stephen Covey outlines in the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” where in our daily lives we become unfocussed or distracted.
Covey suggests that life’s tasks could be organized into four areas: important and urgent (e.g., crisis or deadline-driven work), important and non-urgent (e.g., preventative tasks, relationship building, recreation, seeking new opportunities), not important and urgent (e.g., non-crisis interruptions, calls, work) and not important and not urgent (e.g., trivial time-wasting tasks).
Where do you spent most of your time? We may spend hours each day cleaning and sorting the house or watching TV, and yet wonder why bills have not been attended to. On a more soulful level, we may wonder why life feels boring or lacks meaning despite our busyness.
Applying the ‘80/20 Rule’ to our behaviour, it suggests that few (20%) tasks are vital or matter and many (80%) are trivial. If we are spending close to 80% of our time involved in non-urgent not important tasks, no doubt we are finding life meaningless. As Goethe advised, “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
However, what does ‘matter most’? James Hollis suggests in “What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life,” there exists a necessity “to become more and more of ourselves” – of who we are meant to be. If what matters most is living according to our true selves, then why the avoidance?
Begin by isolating what actually you are avoiding? If you were not partaking in non-urgent not important tasks, what would you be doing or feeling instead? For example, if you were not cleaning so much you might have time to volunteer. If you did not shop as much you might have money and time for a course you have always wanted to take. What would you honestly rather be doing?
We may have become so distanced from what we truly want that the answer does not come easily. Further, when the answer does come it often challenges us to make changes we are not willing to take. This is the crux of our unfocussed and addictive ways – avoiding our fears, feelings and wounds, as well as avoiding our many unlived possibilities.