When it seems like your life is packed with chores, obligations, work, and responsibilities, is there any room to breathe, let alone experience the benefit of having extra space or time for yourself?
Whoever you are, I think the practice of making regular space in our busy lives allows us a lot of opportunity for personal growth. It helps us take care of ourselves by just making it a habit to think about ourselves and prioritize ourselves. Making extra space in our lives – on a continual basis – allows us to replenish and get present to ourselves and what’s around us, after being caught up in the treadmill of life.
What do I do with more space?
- Time to think
- Take a walk, hike, or exercise
- Learn something new, like a foreign language or a new hobby
- Call someone close whom you’ve neglected
- Have fun
- Do nothing
- Time to do something good for yourself, like take yourself out to eat or get a massage
- Sleep in
- Spend time with your child or spouse
- Relax without doing anything
This could go wrong if you over prioritize yourself. A lot of couples that I speak with tell me that their guy thinks too much about himself, and plans time or activities more for himself than for his family or marriage/relationship. I think the way to best handle this is to create balance, and not get so caught up in taking care of yourself – or thinking about yourself – that other things and people go by the wayside. The point here is not to neglect your responsibilities and the people that depend on you; in fact, it’s to become more available to them when you have more in your tank to give to them.
A lot of people don’t know why they pack their lives to the hilt. Often, there are psychological or emotional reasons behind why we have to stay so busy, in spite of the real need to get things done or bring in a paycheck. Sometimes, we keep ourselves busy to distract ourselves away from a bad situation in our lives, or to avoid negative emotions that we would have to face if we stopped and stood still for a minute. Consider that if you’re packing your life with so much busyness, and ask yourself why. You may be running from something that is unconscious and that needs to be attended to so that you can create more space in your life.
Some people need to be “extremely busy,” because it gives them a sense of peace or a sense of identity. If I’m “that busy guy,” I might get affirmation or praise from people who I care about what they think about me. I may see myself as important or special if I’m so busy. I think we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being “busy,” and congratulate ourselves by being so “busy,” “productive,” and “important.” What would happen if we cut back on what makes us so busy? Would we lose those feelings that we get from staying so chained to our schedules and obligations? Who would we find if we are forced to face our “non-busy” selves?
I think money is also important in this conversation, because may times, we’ve obligated ourselves financially to our cars, houses, trips, and other expenses that we may not be able to afford, which strips us of our time, mental well being and ability to carve extra space out in our lives. Ask yourself: can I afford to cut back on things that may be draining my ability to create more space in my life? How can I cut back on expenses to be able to free myself of more time for space in my life? Time is directly related to money, and by “interrogating” your finances, you may see that you’re losing valuable time you could be creating because you’re too busy paying for things you don’t want or need.
How to create more space:
- Carve out a chunk of time (1 hour, 2 hours, etc.) for just you to do whatever you want on a regular scheduled basis.
- This is not time to do errands, pay bills, or to obligate yourself to things that you should/need/ought to do. It’s time to relax and create space for yourself.
- Communicate your intentions for making space or time to those that need to know – don’t just do it without letting your spouse or family know what you’re doing. They may need to plan around your planned time for yourself.
- Make this a regular habit. Plan on doing this on a schedule, like once a week, every two weeks, or once a month. If you don’t plan it, it may not happen.
- Assess, and see what the results are. What did you learn from the experience of creating more space for yourself? How did it benefit you to do this? Process the experience and develop self-awareness to identify the benefits of creating space for yourself.
Creating space is essential for when things in life get busy. When marriage, family and career arrive, those things usually get prioritized, and we can lose ourselves in the day-to-day aspects of those roles. By creating extra space for ourselves, we keep ourselves a priority and replenish ourselves so that we can be the best we can for ourselves and others in our lives.