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Artificial Urgency

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. My task list is full, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and my responsibilities loom large. It leads predictably to stress and exhaustion. Given the work we do, it’s no surprise that burnout and self-care are mainstays in discussions (online and off-) about the work of helping professionals.

At times it feels insurmountable.

But at other times, if I allow myself, I can see my contribution to the wear and tear. I contribute by insisting on an urgency that really isn’t there. Not really. I’ve just convinced myself that it’s so. I think we often do, out of habit, out of self-importance, out of a sense of crisis that just might be more in our heads than anything.

I recently posted this in an online discussion group: Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't really HAVE TO do anything. That's self-care too. I was surprised by how many “likes” the post generated. I was glad the message resonated.

It’s true. More often than we care to admit, we don’t really have to do whatever it is that feels so pressing, so urgent. Sometimes, yes. But often, no. It just feels that way because we’re used to it seeming that way.

We can learn to see things differently. Feel things differently.

And creativity can help.

Creative skills can help us generate new possibilities. When we recognize how we’ve boxed ourselves in through habituated thinking, feeling, and doing, we take the first step toward seeing things anew.

So the next time you’re feeling that familiar, urgent pressure, take a deep breath and...

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