Slowing down picks up the pace
Even though awareness and reason would tell me otherwise, I didn't understand why sometimes I kept struggling with certain aspects of my work. For example, one day as I was trying again to organize prior writing for my future website, I felt stuck. I was procrastinating for weeks about organizing and sorting through all my written data. I didn't want to do this tedious work.
Two parts tugged inside. On one side, I sensed a driving force, assertive and aggressive, conveying that the job should have been done yesterday and that “I have got to do this now and bulldoze through it.” My heart sank, “Oh yes… I can do it that way, fast and strong/powerfully/direct, but everything else will be destroyed on the way.” To follow this pathway seemed at that time more productive but disrespectful. On the other side of the tug, I sensed a strong magnetic pull toward my default impulse: “No, no, no! Let’s start fresh and re-write it. This would prevent hours of re-reading, boring weeding and organizing and it’s all inside anyhow. That’s the way!” However, I had to admit that this way could be slow and take a long time to get to my goal.
Nothing was going to get done because both sides wanted their own way. I felt stuck between the push and pull of these internal forces and I continued to procrastinate. Today, I am more able to smile at these internal resisting forces because I have learned ways to understand what they want to show me. In this situation, I learned that the procrastination had a protective job. It was trying to protect me from either bulldozing through to get the job done, or start fresh but having to re-invent. Of course I didn’t grasp this right away. How did I find a plan that broke up the tug of war of the two sides in conflict?
I first paused and listened inside. I listened with a certain presence and an attitude of friendliness as defined by Eugene Gendlin in his book, Focusing. As I paused and listened more closely with this open, friendly quality, I understood more. Then a shift cleared the way to a working plan - a solution my whole self was in agreement with, truthfully and wholly. It was an action plan that sprang from my mind, like a cascade of clear water out of the earth, so refreshing. What is the “more” I understood when I listened closely and openly inside? This considerate listening invited a presence within to what was there.
I first understood what each part was trying to do for me. The ‘bulldozer part’ was a straight line to my goal, fast and direct. It offered a linear path to get the work done. Sometimes this is the way to get through procrastinating! The 'fresh start part’ with its ‘wondering wandering’ quality of exploring, held the knowing that I have it all inside and each time we come freshly to something, there is more that comes. It would have gotten me there but who knows when! And I had to get this website done and not in 10 years! I then realized that both sides were important and needed to be taken seriously and it didn’t have to be either/or. Ahhh…this open presence could acknowledge both sides with their own value. This respect of the two parts led to a working plan, a "wholistic" plan, including both parts’ ways, being able to work toward my goal with these two parts.
Do you know this fable from La Fontaine’s: "Le Lièvre et la Tortue" known in English as "The Tortoise and the Hare"? This XVII century French author wrote several fables using animals to interpret human behaviors, including the “Sun King” (Louis XIV) and his court of admirers. This was a smart cover because during this period the punishment for any minor critic of the “Sun King” could result in having your head cut off! In this fable, the tortoise is racing the hare, who is overly confident about his ability to win, takes his time, naps, and gets distracted. Suddenly the hare sees the tortoise about to cross the finish line, and he races to reach it, swift like a rabbit but a hair too late. La Fontaine wrote the following morale for this fable: “rien ne sert de courrir il faut partir à point” which can be translated into “slow and steady wins the race.” Determination, focus, steadiness as we move toward a goal can help us reach our goals faster!
With this slowing down and kind of open listening, I also better understood my resistance and the role of procrastinating. I was then able to put in place a plan that included the linear and the ‘wondering, wandering’ working ways of my mind. This plan worked because it was inclusive and "wholistic." It had something for both sides and included both parts’ ways. It contained a linear strategy to work with what I had and included the part in me that likes to wonder and wander, leading me to fresh information. This was a solution which included aspects of the intention of each part - to get it done, think rationally, and also to think in a less tedious and more creative way.
At that point I realized with relief that I could stay organized and get to my goal following this "wholistic" way - a more effective way because it had the power to decrease resistance. Even though sometimes everything seems to indicate otherwise, the fastest way to get to a goal can be another way. I discovered that when procrastinating, the other way helps me reach my goal swiftly by being more inclusive of my whole self. This means a close listening to my internal system to find a more effective friendly pathway. I have named this pathway, the "wholistic" way of getting something done.
Paradoxically, slowing down speeds up the pace.
1. Slowing down allows us to listen closely and to find more, to hear the whole in us. We get more viewpoints, more perspectives. When I slowed down, paused and listened closely inside, I understood more about the messages from the internal opposite forces. It was tedious and boring to my creative brain to go through all of the written material, and at the same time my linear brain did not want to start afresh and rewrite it all.
2. Even though stopping and pausing takes time, a slower path can get us to our end goal more surely and swiftly because the plan to get there includes more of us.
Including more of ourselves reduces any possible internal resistance between polarized feelings or sides. Pausing slowed me down but helped me reach my goal faster because I was not derailed internally by opposite internal forces. I also understood better the resistance and the role of procrastinating. Sometimes slower is faster!
*Focusing as developed by Eugene Gendlin and defined in his writings. See focusing.org for more information.
Sometimes there is so much to do. Life feels like a fast train. And sometimes, I feel like only part of me is in the train and another part is running after the train, trying to catch up.