Recently I’ve had a massive realisation with respect to my business life; where there has been a vacuum of attention, planning, and/or communication, problems and issues have not been far behind.
Now this may not be a new idea for most of you, but for me, ensuring that are as few vacuums as possible has really been life changing. I’m less stressed, I feel like I’m achieving more, there’s no guilt, my clients are super happy and no matter how heavy my work load gets I’m feeling like I’m responding actively rather than reactively.
So this morning I got to thinking about how these vacuums affect a person’s personal, social and spiritual life. I started thinking about all of the times in my life when I’ve lost focus and not placed any attention in an aspect of my life, and what I found was shit always got bad. And the fascinating thing about that is how expediential it was, the longer I left giving the aspect any attention the greater the shit.
Vacuums of attention don’t stay vacuums for long. Something or someone is always going to fill that space, and most likely it is not going to be to our choosing.
I believe that pain in our life is caused by the gap between where we are and where we want to be, the greater the gap the greater the pain. In those moments when we are truly present and appreciative and can say to ourselves “There is no where in the world I’d rather be right now” we are truly blissful.
So surely when we lose focus and attention on an area or aspect of our lives the something or someone is always going to fill the space in a way that is not only different from the way we would have chosen for ourselves but is ultimately going to take us further away from who and where we want to be. Thus increasing our discomfort, pain and sense of suffering.
So if this is a premise that you can believe to be true can we agree that preventing vacuums from occurring is paramount to our own sense of happiness?
If we know it is super important and we know that we can prevent vacuums from occurring by simply giving the space some attention, planning and communication; then why do we keep procrastinating and avoiding the addressing of our issues and aspects enough to keep allowing vacuums to occur?
I’d suggest that firstly we tell ourselves it is because “we don’t have the time” and maybe that is partly true, but I feel the real reason is fear. I believe that the only reason a person wouldn’t chose happiness is because they’re bound by fear. And not particularly massive fears, I believe that even small fears like ‘the fear of not being seen to be a good person’ can bind us just as tightly as our big fears.
I also believe that it’s not just our fears of dealing with the ignored aspect which create vacuums of attention, but also fears around the removal of our attention and time from the aspects that are getting the lion’s share of our focus.
I’d also split the lion’s share into two categories; attention we are giving because we are moving towards something or attention we are giving because we are moving away from something.
And I think that this is an important distinction. Wanting something or someone because we think it would be a fantastic addition to our lives has a very different feel from wanting that same something or someone because we fear what our lives would be like in their absence.
Here is what I think the good news is, if tiny fears can create vacuums then can’t tiny amounts of attention prevent them forming in the first place? To prevent a vacuum forming I don’t think it requires any real action from us; I proposed that all it requires is just a tiny bit of attentiveness.
Let’s say we are super focused and consumed with work and a vacuum is forming in our home life. Rather than deal with the imbalance, what if we addressed it before it addressed us? I would argue that has the potential to prevent a something or someone from setting an agenda contraire to our desires.
What if we gave it a tiny amount of attention, planning and communication?
“My dear loved one, things are out of balance with work right now, I am aware of it and it is my intention to sort it out. Right now though I don’t feel like I have the time or the energy to do so but I am conscious of where most of my focus is and how that can make you feel at times. Are you ok if I take a couple of months to get this sorted out? Would turning my phone off and not working every Sunday afternoon to spend time with you and the kids be enough of a gesture in the meantime?”
Wouldn’t the above example be more welcomed than nothing? ‘Nothing’ doesn’t take responsibility, ‘nothing’ doesn’t acknowledge, ‘nothing’ doesn’t set a plan, ‘nothing’ doesn’t offer small gestures and ‘nothing’ doesn’t communicate. Nothing is that head in the sand thing that we hear so much about. Nothing is nothing, it is an absence, a vacuum, and a void.
Of course there is room in the above scenario for real action, but what I wish to discuss today isn’t the best case solution, it’s a solution in exchange for nothingness. And we can get on our high horses and demand real action from ourselves and other’s and reject the tiny ‘something’ as not being good enough. But what are we trying to achieve here? Aren’t we all just trying to be happy? Aren’t we procrastinating and avoiding certain things because we think it will make us happier than facing and dealing with our fears around it? Isn’t ‘something’ a massive step from ‘nothing’? What’s our rush? Let us remember that we can avoid and procrastinate about an issues for months, years even decades.
What if we took it easy on ourselves and saw the tiny ‘something’ as a step towards a big ‘something’ and something wonderful.
“I’m drinking a fair bit at the moment, more than I’d like. I know I’m drinking to avoid some stuff that I don’t feel ready to deal with. I want to prevent a vacuum forming and I know that I need to give that stuff some attention to do so.
But I don’t wish to trawl through all of the pain of those issues right now, right now I want to have some peace in my life and some fun. I’m going to plan to let it all-go for now and I’m going to ease up on myself about the drinking. I know that every time I start judging myself about my drinking it only get’s worse. I know that right now I’m enjoying it and it isn’t causing me any issues in my life, I’ve just been down on it because I know that I’ve been using it as an escape and I don’t want to live like this forever.
Now that I’ve let go of the need to deal with all of the stuff right away I’ll have lots of opportunities for more peace and fun to come into my life and it will come in many other forms than just the drinking. I always drink the way I have been to move away from something, now I’ve given myself permission to ease up on dealing with everything I feel like I am free to move towards something for the first time in ages. I want to give my attention to feeling good and just saying that helps me to feel better already.”
Now here is where this gets really interesting, what if we swap the word vacuum with void? What if all of those deep voids we feel like we have could be filled with a tiny bit of attention, a tiny bit of planning and a tiny bit of communication.
If procrastination and avoidance form a vacuum of attention regarding what we want and where we want to be, then doesn’t even a tiny bit of attention cancel out the vacuum? How can you have a vacuum if something is there? Even the smallest of dots on the largest piece of paper is not nothing; it is a tiny dot on a very large piece of paper.
Let’s be easy on ourselves and give all of those things that we are worried about a tiny dot of our attention, for a tiny dot is just as much of something as anything else.