QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL
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What To Do When Rushed Or Anxious
If there is one thing that almost everyone can agree on today, it’s that we all have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Whether it’s meeting deadlines at work, picking up the groceries and the kids, getting that report out, or getting that school project in, this inequitable amount of work and time seems to be a fact of life for almost everyone. Further, the resulting feeling of being rushed or anxious is also universal, and, thus, I thought I would offer some ideas on why this doesn’t work, and what we can do instead.
For those of you familiar with my “Top of the Mind” philosophy which is based upon the latest brain research, you know that the reason rushing in response to being rushed is doomed to failure is because we are being driven by the lower 20% of our brain. This part of the brain can only do two things, fight, or push harder and go faster (i.e. rush) or flight, give up, give in, and just stop trying.
In fact, this is why well-meaning advice such as “just calm down” or “stop being so anxious” never works. The lower 20% of the brain hears this as “give up, give in,” or “be late,” and the part of us that knows how important it is for us to accomplish the task rejects this idea. Unfortunately, this only leaves us with fight, or go faster or . . . rush, which would be fine if this did indeed help us finish faster, however, this is rarely the case. As we all have experienced, when we rush, we make mistakes which require us to go back and repeat steps, and since speed versus quality has become our prime objective, not only do we take longer, the quality of our work suffers as well. Not good.
So, what’s the solution? Are we supposed to just close our eyes, assume the lotus position, and start chanting, “ohmmmmmm” when we are being rushed? No, when we are short on time, there is truth in the fact that working at our peak proficiency and finishing as soon as possible are valid and important goals . . . the question is, how do we speed up without going so fast that we end up making mistakes and taking longer? The answer is “we don’t,” meaning that our metabolism and the speed at which we do things isn’t like an accelerator on a car. We can’t just speed up because the reason for the speed (our fear or concern that we will be late or not accomplish the task) throws us into the part of the brain that only knows “really fast” or “give up trying to make it on time” (fight or flight).
In other words, let’s use our natural tendency to increase adrenaline when pressed for time as a way to increase our focus on the task, and then take the manic or frantic edge off by enacting what I call “The 2% Solution.” In my book, “Life from the Top of the Mind,” I go into detail about this concept, but for the purposes of this forum, I will describe it more briefly, because, hey, we don’t have a lot of time, right?
It’s actually quite simple to describe, but like many skills, it will take some practice to perfect. Basically, it’s about just noticing when we are rushing or anxious in response to being rushed, or running short on time, and slowing down just 2%, or doing everything just 2% slower.
Bottom line, we are looking at the situation at hand, and are making choices that are purposeful and deliberate, that we believe will be more effective, that make the statement we want to make about who we are (i.e., I am someone who keeps my agreements) and in a way that we would teach or recommend to someone we love. Because we are using this neocortex (or Top of the Mind) criteria for what we are doing and how we are doing it (i.e. 2% slower than rushed), we are bringing our best to the task at hand. Or, put another way, rather than responding to being rushed with rushing or anxiety, we are instead bringing our clarity, confidence, and creativity to the situation and working effectively at the speed of life.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill