Let’s take a closer look at ‘not doing’ when people all around you are not only ‘doing,’ but being very busy indeed doing things in their busy-nesses. If you’re employed it might be impossible to not ‘do’ without being fired, or reprimanded. But if you’re self-employed, or running a small business, your time is yours (or so you thought!). Often it’s self-employed people or small business owners who are the ones who seem to never stop, even if they are supposed to be in charge of their own time. People don’t often stop in our busy world because a couple of things happen when you do.
First, you often face your own critical thoughts, whether spoken or not. For instance, ‘I can’t do this!’, ‘It’s not OK to be seen to be doing nothing,’ ‘I’m so lazy, why can’t I be like…’ and so on. These can produce very uncomfortable feelings, such as squirming with embarrassment, shame, guilt, or nervousness. You might find a great need to justify your actions, or to hurriedly explain to others what’s happening before they judge you.
You can be sure that if you stop ‘doing,’ there will be other people thinking all sorts of things about you – although these thoughts say more about themselves and their fear of ‘not doing’ than about you.
Second, it’s often fear of the perceived emptiness that makes people take action in a willy-nilly kind of manner. Imagine now that you just stop what you are doing and rest for the next hour. What happens inside your head, when you even contemplate this thought, let alone do it? I was talking to a colleague this morning about this, and she said ‘I love the idea of emptiness – but then when I get it, I never actually do ‘nothing,’ or at least not for longer than a few seconds. Before I know it, I’m at the very least busy, busy, busy in my head, if not in body. So it’s a fantasy, my desire to stop being so busy.’ If you don’t believe this about yourself, then stop reading right now. Can you sit still for a minute? What happens when you do? Just notice it, no judging, just observation. If you can manage a minute, congratulations – and see what happens when you extend it to five, or longer.
It’s time to be honest. Ask yourself right now ‘What gets in the way of me simply ‘being’ in my business instead of ‘doing’ it? For many people, including me, it will be the fear of the ‘not-doingness.’ When a client stopped ‘doing’ recently, she was overwhelmed by guilt. Plain old Scottish Calvinistic guilt. She was supposed to be working, and if she didn’t, especially during the week, it meant she was a bad person, apparently. If you’re curious about what it might be that gets in your way, then stop doing, and see what happens.
But it takes a lot of courage to stop doing. It means facing the fear and going ahead anyway. Courage comes from the heart (the word originates from the French word for heart, cour) and means that when you decide to stop doing, you’ll find your heart on that journey with you, as you move from the busy-ness of doing, to the stillness and peace of ‘not doing’, or even ‘less doing.’
Take courage, take heart – in this place of being still within your working day, you will find inspiration comes to you more easily; you’ll hear the ‘still small voice within’ speaking it’s wisdom and guiding you towards actions you might never have otherwise thought of; you will at the very least be giving your body some time to calm down and reconnect with the meaning of what you are doing. Moving through what looks challenging means you are coming from your heart, means you are willing to be in a place of unknown possibilities, means you are willing and open to receiving a wealth of information from that unknowingness. And only then, after all this, do you start your ‘doing,’ when it will look the same as before maybe, but will be coming from a very different place energetically and therefore be very likely to bring different results.