Wish You Could Stop Rushing?

Wish You Could Stop Rushing?

Email question from Adriane*:

I am a mother of 3 great kiddos - sons ages 14 and 4, and a daughter age 6. I feel as if I'm going in circles because I surround myself with daily readings, blogs, helpful tips all the time on how to be a better parent. How it's never too late.


It's like I know what I need to do, and I know what I could or should be doing, but for some reason its hard for me to actually grasp these things and do them. I find myself being so caught up in our schedules and daily tasks that I lose sight to just stop and really pay attention or just really be.


One of my biggest fears is losing a child like to health or an accident of some sort. I have had several family members go through this and witnessed the pain first hand. I always tell myself that I'm scared I will wake up when its too late. Do you have any advice that may help me.


My daughter is a "noticer." She notices everything, but I'm too busy rushing of course, and just the other day she was rushing her younger brother using my exact words, and it made me cry. Even my youngest has picked up on yelling...and cursing when impatient. I really do feel like there is no way to undo everything that has been done. 🙁 please help I would greatly appreciate it.

Email answer from me:

With the frustration and concern I hear in your email, I'm sure you feel like help can't come soon enough.

Normally I would refer you to my book, SAY WHAT YOU SEE, for specific how-to's for staying present with your children, but as you said, you actually know pretty much what to do, you are just confused over why you don't do it. It sounds like you would love to stop and smell the roses or watch the clouds roll by with your daughter, the noticer. That's the life you would love! But then, here come the circles that rush you along.

When you get caught in patterns where you end up doing things you don't like over and over like rushing, it is extremely confusing. That's because you naturally assume that what you want is driving the show. Since what you are doing is the opposite of what you want, your pattern doesn't make sense. After a while you may actually begin to doubt your sanity.

Reclaiming your sanity by making sense is exactly what needs to happen so you can put what you want back in the driver's seat and make lasting changes. That's where I may be able to help you. I help people make sense of their lives.

So if what you want isn't running the show, what is? The only possible answer is fear. Fear is a much more powerful motivator than what you want, and since many of our fears are unconscious, you have to actively track them down.

You can start by asking yourself, "What could I be afraid of that would override my strong desire to stop and just "be" with my children?"

This sentence from your note provides a big clue: "I'm scared I will wake up when it's too late." I know that on the surface it sounds like that fear would help you embrace each moment, but when you put it in context with rushing, it actually fits the pattern of a deeper fear: missing out.

While missing out may not seem like the end of the world to some people, if this is on track, when you start to look for it, you will see that it is a huge driving force in your life as it is in the lives of many people, including me. Here are some ways it showed up in my life:

  •   never sitting down, always staying busy, always more to do, frequently overwhelmed
  •   dreaming of an empty calendar, but over-scheduling (even on vacation!)
  •   always finding one last thing to do before leaving the house, so often running late
  •   hating choices because it means not choosing something else that could slip away
  •   strongly motivated by one-time-only events or sales
  •   extremely thorough and efficient (not missing any details)
  •   thinking best while doing mindless tasks, not sitting and meditating quietly
  •   hating to go to bed at night (giving up on the day), but loving to sleep (not my fault I'm missing out)
  •   loving things like snowstorms that make the world stand still
  •   living in the suburbs because there is nothing going on to miss out on

It took my colleague, Eva, to help me see that my big fear of missing out was actually just one perspective on life. For example, she loves living in the city and having lots of choices because that means there will always be something she wants to do. She never gives the things she doesn't choose a second thought!

A fear of missing out sets your radar for all the things that you are not doing, which is pretty much the definition of not being present.

So when missing out runs your life, all of the things you are not doing show up any time you try to "be." It's hard to even stay in a hug, when you've got a million other things tugging at your mind.

There is actually some hidden logic behind the mental tugging that you feel:

When "being = not doing = missing out" and missing out is a fear, you can never allow yourself to "be," because by brain logic, that equation ultimately means "being = missing out." Even though you're not aware of your brain logic in the moment of a hug, it's subconsciously running the show. The agitation you feel is actually the fear of missing out being activated every time you try to "be."

Breaking free of this fear will come when you realize that on some level you actually believe that "doing" can  keep you from missing out.

While that might have seemed like the answer when you were a child (it helps to discover when this fear began), it's almost funny when you think about it as an adult and realize that no matter how much you do, the world is so plentiful that you will always be missing out on something!

When you get that, you will start to see that your childhood answer of "doing" no longer works for you, and in fact, the most fulfilling and lasting way to not miss out is "being." Look at your daughter. She probably doesn't worry about missing out on anything. She can be your guide.

So basically, the upshot is that the fear of missing out guarantees that you will always be missing out on something, especially being present with your kids.

But even though it might take more work or coaching to free yourself of the fear, if all of this feels right, this insight can take you a long way right now. For instance, if you can really see that inside your perspective, you can't help but miss out on something, that can level the playing field and allow you to prioritize based on what you want the most. For example, do you want to miss out on getting the floor cleaned today or on your child's pride at winning a game you played with her? It's easy when you put it that way, plus cleaning can almost always wait!

The final step of breaking through the fear will come when you realize how much you hated missing out as a child and still do. Let yourself really, really feel it. It's in your sentence about waking up too late. "Waking up when it's too late" is something to scream and cry about! You must have had those same kind of feelings as a child at least once (given your wording, maybe you even missed out on something by sleeping through it) and consciously or unconsciously vowed you would never miss out again.

A child's solution would be in the realm of "doing," and because children tend to do all or nothing, at the time you would have actually believed that "doing" could keep you from missing out on anything. That set your path in stone, and you have been rushing in one way or another ever since without questioning why.

Breaking free of this fear will allow you to step into the world where missing out happens almost invisibly as it does for Eva, and the only thing that counts is what you are doing, not what you are not. That's the world of being present and choosing what to do based on what you want the most. That's the world where you can stay in a hug until you feel truly connected, and the one in which the how-to's in my book can actually change your life because you can finally use them.

*This Q&A is based on an actual email consultation edited for teaching purposes. We appreciate Adriane's generosity in allowing us to share this for the benefit others struggling with similar problems.

1 Comment

  1. Ali |

    This is just how I have felt in the world, and Sandy, your response is hugely meaningful for me. I feel perpetally frustrated at my inability to sit still, to be, to stop the incessant driving force of my brain to make lists, to sort out, to get things completed, when I know all I know about mindfulness, about letting go, about how this moment is all that counts, about how much I want connection with my kids, about how nothing is ever really sorted, or done, or completed. I *know* just what I need to do, and I can help others find their peace, yet time and time again I find myself itching to write a list a few minutes into starting to devote some time to one or both of my children. Sometimes I really hate myself for it!

    I know that my core beliefs are driving the show, and how I’m being isnt what I want at all. This post made me consider what is really going on for me at the deepest level when I’m in that place I wish I wasn’t – so thank you hugely for that! x

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