This week in The Brain BS Blog and Podcast we will be exploring the concept of time. We will discuss how time is just a mental construct created by humans and it is not even real. We will also take a look at how us humans always like to say we don’t have enough of it and why that is total brain BS. I will then give you several scenarios to illustrate how this plays out in our daily lives when we are not actively managing our minds effectively.
Okay, let’s start with this idea that time is just a mental construct. We like to say there is a past, a present and the future in order for us to create a universal timeline in our heads that we can all agree upon. The truth is though, there is only the present moment. The past was a present moment when it happened, and whatever happens in the future will be a present moment when it happens. This is why there is such a movement to become more mindful because when we are thinking about things that have already happened or worrying about what might be happening, we are missing all of the present moments in front of us. When we become inpatient and feel rushed, that is just us rejecting our reality because we think the next present moment is more important than the one we are experiencing now. When we yearn for the past, it just means we are unable to detach from a previous present moment to the one in front of us.
In terms of clocks and time changes in different geographical areas, that is something we made up too. This tool we use to measure how many seconds and hours happen in a day has nothing to do with how we actually experience our time (various present moments). For example, we can go on a road trip, it can possibly feel like it is taking forever or perhaps it feels like time is flying by. If we are tired, cranky, or bored, it might feel like time is crawling by. If we are rested, relaxed, and energized, that same trip can feel like it is going much quicker. We defer to a clock made up by humans to determine how long the trip took but the truth is how we experienced it is what is real. The rest is just a mental construct agreed upon by humans. We also do this with getting older and the concept of days, months, and years. In addition, we take it one step further and determine that a number(age) is associated with certain societal expectations and many of us believe those to be factual. This is evident when we think thoughts like I am running out of time, I am too old for that, or even too young for something else. That is all brain BS.
So now that we have a better understanding of time and that it is just a mental construct made up by humans, let’s talk about how we never think we have enough of it. First off, it is important to understand that thinking that way comes from scarcity and if we are thinking that way about time, it is most likely translating to many other areas of our life. For example, if we always feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done that we want to get done, we are also more likely to think we are not doing enough or being good enough to meet our own expectations. This sort of thinking from lack instead of abundance, is usually a pervasive thought pattern and brain habit that can cause us a lot of suffering. The truth is there are only so many present moments that we can have in a manmade day and the real problem is an inability to set boundaries on what we can do in a certain period of time. Adding to that is an inability to prioritize what must get done and what can wait. What often feels like a time problem, really is not one.
For instance, I often hear clients who are moms with young children say there is just not enough time for the moms to take care of themselves. They say I have kids in grade school or high school that play in a million different sports leagues, and I have to give them rides and go to their events. They also feel like they have to sign up their kids for all kinds of after school activities even if they have full time jobs that require a great deal of their time because the other moms are doing that, and they don’t want to be perceived negatively. As a result, they are stretched pretty thin and constantly rushing from one present moment to the other. The problem here again, is not that there are not enough hours in the day. When I present them with this information, I meet resistance over and over again. It always takes a little time for them to realize the problem is they are not making themselves a priority or setting limits on what they are willing to do because they are too worried about what other people think of them. Making themselves a priority and taking care of their needs requires emotional maturity, courage, and a willingness to feel discomfort as they and their families get used to this new approach to life. The benefits of practicing self-care in order to take better care of others is often overlooked and this is evident by more and more women becoming exhausted with growing resentment, feelings of inadequacy, and living their lives from a powerless frame of mind. The good news is these women do not have to wait for their children to get older to get relief, they just have to change the way they are thinking, and they can do that anytime.
Let’s look at another example of how not enough time can play out in our lives. Say you are an entrepreneur such as myself, starting a new business. It is very common to feel like we don’t have enough time to do everything that we have to do but it is only because we are in a hurry to get everything done. In my line of work, we have to figure out how to register our business and learn the technology that is involved with developing websites, blogs, podcasts, Facebook ad funnels, business cards and whatever else a coach might want to create to support their business. When I first started out, I would work 12 to 14-hour days to get everything done. I would often say or think that there are not enough hours in the day to get it all done. After about nine months of working like that, I was exhausted and depleted. I finally realized it was not sustainable to continue at that pace and that my only problem was being in a hurry. Once I changed the way I was thinking, I slowed down my pace considerably. I began to prioritize and evaluate how I was spending my time and became more selective about how to move forward. As a result, I became much more efficient and stopped doing fluff stuff that was not really supporting my business or creating paying clients. Now I work way less hours and I get so much more done. My problem was never related to time, I just thought it was.
Another common example of how people don’t think they have time is related to their self-care. I can’t tell you how many women I come across who tell me they do not have time to hire a coach and learn how their brain is working. Really??? There is literally nothing more important than our emotional and mental health. How can we afford not to take the time to learn how to manage our minds more effectively? Whether it be coaching, therapy, meditation, etc., we must make time to ensure our emotional health is top priority. In terms of our physical needs, many people use lack of time as an excuse to not exercise or eat healthier. Sorry, but that is total brain BS. We cannot afford to overlook our health needs for any reason. If we literally have a job that does not enable us to spend any amount of time on exercise or health food prep, then we have to look at possibly getting a new job. If we love ourselves and care about what is best for us, we have to make our self-care the priority over everything else. Sometimes this requires creativity and thinking outside of the box if we cannot change jobs. If we keep thinking we don’t have time to take care of ourselves, then we look for evidence to support that thought and get stuck in a routine that does not serve us. If we can change our thoughts and decide it must be possible to incorporate self-care into our lives, then we can get creative about how to do that. It always comes down to how we are thinking because thoughts trigger feelings and lead to actions that give us our results.
Alright, let’s look at one more scenario to illustrate how not having enough time is never the problem. Many of my clients are older and trying to figure out how to balance their roles between taking care of their aging parents and taking care of their own families. I lived through this one so I know that it might feel like lack of time is the problem, but I promise you it is not. This is way more about our inability to set clear boundaries about what we are willing to do for our parents. Some of us are overzealous and need to learn how to relinquish control. Others need to learn how to push past their discomfort and ask other siblings or family members for help. Still others need to step up and adjust to changing family dynamics by making an internal shift and reclaim their personal power. Whatever the scenarios, worrying too much about what other people think of us is more of a problem than how many hours are in a day. If we keep thinking there is not enough time to take care of everybody, we continue to look for evidence of how that is true. If we think instead that it is possible to create balance in our lives, then we strive to figure out how to do that.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as not enough time. In fact, time is a mental construct created by humans to measure how many present moments we experience and is not even real. As humans, we like to think we do not have enough time but that is brain BS. We have explored multiple scenarios where we like to blame lack of time as the culprit, but that is never the problem. If we learn how to manage our minds more effectively, we will never use that as an excuse again. Join me in the Brain BS Podcast to discuss this further!