Whenever people complain about being too busy to get a moment’s peace our sensors shoot up. Staying busy is a tried and true way to diminish the intensity of painful existential anxiety. Many of the same people who wish for some respite from their chaotic days don’t really know how to handle a state of calm where there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go.
They’re wary of that state of calm because it’s in those moments that existential anxiety crashes into conscious awareness. Their unconscious response is to keep their schedules filled, to keep on bouncing from one activity to the next until it’s time to go to bed. When they’re able to convince themselves and others that their busyiness is a consequence of necessity not manufactured by them they have a rationalization in place to keep on running from their anxiety.
But they pay a steep price. Their anxiety doesn’t disappear it just goes underground, they don’t confront the various existential aspects of their life situations that must be dealt with for further emotional and psychological development to take place, and they rarely give themselves permission to go offline, to power down and recharge their psychic batteries.
The result is getting stuck between a rock and a hard place where they feel like they’re falling apart at the seams but can’t slow down because of that lurking specter of existential anxiety waiting to pounce the moment they do. The key is realizing that taking the time for true peace and relaxation is not a luxury but a necessity if the goal is to live a happy, healthy life. When the anxiety cued off by having no active focus of attention is consciously recognized and embraced what happens for most people is first a flurry of insight into areas of their life situations that need to change and later, with a little practice, the ability to inhabit the state of calm without the felt need to fill it up with this or that activity since the anxiety that used to compel them to keep moving at all costs now gets confronted head on.