I have spent most of my life being late, losing big chunks of time due to illness or fatigue and feeling like there wasn’t enough time to complete things in a day.
In fact, in my macrostructural pattern, step #8 of 25 is “Time runs outs (literally or in my mind)”, where I experience anxiety and nerves. That’s how much I’ve ingrained it into my personality and viewpoint of life.
But this past year, my relationship with time has been remarkably different. I still had little mishaps with time – although not to the same intensity as it once was. I attribute this to some realisations and insights regarding money also, which is not as weird as it might seem. We’ve all heard the phrase “Time = money”.
As just like money is a man-made construct, so too is time.
When you have a proper think about it – what is time?
So, time is much more than the ticking of the second hand on a clock. It is not even the set incremental moments that fill up the days, weeks and years of your life.
Also, time expands and contracts in our perceptions – much of this is has been demonstrated in social experiments. Named ‘duration distortions’, time has been demonstrated to feel and last longer in time of near-death experience simulations. In fact, they are postulating that circumstances that create a greater neural response in the brain will have an experience of time lasting longer for that individual.
In other words, time would not last as long in times of repetitive or habitual action (low neural activity) – unless the person is consciously hating what they are doing.
I liken time to space that is filled. Time and space go together – as Einstein proposed and theorised 100 years ago. Time is the space in which we fill up activities and experiences.
And like a room, per se, you can fill the room up completely with stuff and junk, or keep it empty – and all the myriad of fill-empty combinations in between. So too, we fill up our time throughout the day, week or year in the same fashion.
Based on this concept of space-time, I’ve determined 3 key dysfunctional perceptions to time, or at least the 3 key for myself:
1. Feeling like there is never enough time to do all the things you need
2. Becoming consciously aware that all that time you had is suddenly gone
3. Being unable to be on time (alt: being unable to decide on a time)
Feeling like there’s never enough time
When you feel like there’s never enough time, it can also be translated in drowning in too many things to do. To compensate, some might work extra long hours even impinging on rest and sleep time.
The experience is of time running out and not enough time left over. Much like the movie ‘On Time’ where time was a currency for their life span and the protagonists spent most of the movie ensuring they had enough to survive the day.
I’ve had this dysfunctional perception many times at work, but one particular time is potent in my memory. I had been allocated several projects, all with tight timelines, all with critical ratings to be completed. This ended with me working many extra hours (even late at night) and not even charging for overtime (which highlights how much I valued myself in terms of time and money then!).
And then the scope of these projects started changing based on other people’s ‘good ideas’, which basically meant more work for me. I think this was around the time of the last straw – when others would suggest changes, I would do them, and then they would change their mind afterwards.
So, suddenly, I would see the ‘go home’ time on the clock – and then drop all and go home. Regardless of the pressure and urgency placed on me. My whole being was on protest. I was surprised to find that many of the impromptu tasks magically resolved themselves in time.
Little did I know I also changed my orientation and therefore reactions and behaviour. By stopping the reaction to the reality that there wasn’t enough time to get things done (in fact, there’s always enough for the things that are important to you) – I was in fact re-enforcing that there was more than enough time.
When I talk about time disappearing, I don’t mean experiences of expanded timelessness when time stops. That’s another thing. I’m talking about when you have all this time to do things, with all good intention, and then you suddenly become conscious later and the time has already passed by.
This is basically getting distracted with other things – the classic facebook peek that sucks up hours. It’s where you aren’t present to the things you want/need to do and are basically avoiding making choices and using your will.
I found I used to do this a lot on our family holidays. Basically because I wasn’t that interested in going on them (the destination was rarely my choice) and they were basically left to my husband’s devices. When we’d leave, we’d be running late (usually because of me) and I would then proceed to sleep for most of the drive. I would also find myself tired and drained for most of the trip.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there, but that I had pulled my energy out. I wasn’t involved in the process, I had absolved all responsibility over to my husband and I was denying one of the most important things in a relationship – my own presence.
Obviously, it would often lead to a conflict or fight during the trip. Although the holidays weren’t ruined, my own enjoyment was greatly diminished.
This did not happen on our honeymoon. I was very passionate about the destination (the beautiful Cook Islands) and we were active on our collaboration to make it enjoyable for both of us. So much so that we spent the 2nd day on Atutaki doing different things!
Getting present, getting involved helps make a difference to time.
Unable to be on time
This one is my particular favourite. This is where I have been the most conscious of my fight against time. I cannot count the amount of car trips in angst and hoping to blitz through time travel to my end destination, where someone has been inevitably waiting for the past 10 minutes.
And for many years, I just could never work out why.
The being late came up again a few days ago – when I was meeting my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents (meet the parents! Eeek!). Both my daughter and I were unsure why this was requested from us – and dreading an uncomfortable lunch.
Some how we ended up running late 15 minutes late (GPS kept us informed, thanks again to Einstein’s theory of relativity).
I finally had to go in deep, tune in and ask if I wanted to be there. I got the message to just be friendly and all will be fine. And it was. I was nervous for nothing.
Being chronically late all the time is a symptom of avoidance. It may be avoiding the potential wait in case the other might not show up or resistance or avoiding the situation because it is uncomfortable.
Deep down, it usually highlights a fear and an “I can’t trust” but “there’s a right way to be” belief (note that those who just plain ‘can’t trust’ probably wouldn’t even show up at all). Overall, you will feel a powerlessness to time.
Dissolving the Illusion
I read an ebook lately called “Einstein Time” by Gay Henricks. It was a very interesting read and I highly recommend it (very short read). He talks about 2 perspectives on time – the outdated Newtonian time of time being limited and the truer Einstein time of you being the source of that time.
And when time never seems like it’s enough or it mysteriously disappears or you are repeatedly powerless to managing your own time, then the thought that you are the source of time is the last thing on your mind.
If time is a man-made construct (much like money, support, knowledge and energy)…
If deadlines don’t tangibly exist…
If your dates are set around the birth of someone who lived for only 33 years…
If the second has been arbitrarily defined as the period for 9,192,631,770 cycles of a standard cesium 133 atom…
Then what are you really trying to manage?
The answer is yourself. You and your actions – leading to your creations and your experiences. Time is there, surrounding and supporting you… until your time is up.
So in the meantime:
- Stop reacting as if there is no time. There is always enough time for what you need.
- Remember, that you always have a choice. So, stay present and stay involved.
- And regardless of any fears that might be there – don’t forget to ask your heart: do I want it? Would I love it?
Have a wonderful new year and happy 2017!