It’s easy to feel that we’re the slaves of time, or at the mercy of time, or that time is a force of nature to which we are helpless or powerless. People sometimes see life as a block of time being chipped away, especially when they imagine their dreams of career and relationship fulfillment slipping away.
Of course, it’s true we can’t control the passage of time. Still, we’re inwardly conflicted when we turn that reality into a source of anxiety, stress, and frantic busyness.
Racing against time makes sense if you’re trying to save your town from rising flood waters. In many cases, though, people who experience life in a time-urgent way are drowning in emotional hot water.
Psychologists call this “excessive time-urgency” or “hurry sickness.” Unfortunately, mainstream thinking on the subject is simplistic and unhelpful. This simplistic approach is exemplified in this comment from a psychologist:
Excessive time-urgency is a problem in thinking. Everyone has some pressure to get things done. However, if you consider everything is equally urgent, you’re likely to experience stress problems. Rethink your view of time, how you relate to it, and what is really important to you. Place events and tasks in proper perspective.
This advice is unhelpful. First of all, to say that time-urgency is “a problem in thinking” is misleading. The problem is deeper. It arises out of emotional dynamics submerged beneath our conscious thinking. What we need instead of “better thinking” is insight that flushes out the source of the problem. [Read more…]