I am hosting an online course for the first time, Highly Sensitive & Neurodivergent Life, with a group of people who are either hsp or both hsp and also neurodivergent. I have promised to teach them all I know about boundaries, as this is an important skill for people like us to master if want to spend our very precious energy on the right things and to be able to feel good in our lives. Ironically, because I’ve had the guts to claim that I know something about boundaries, I’ve been shown this week that I am absolutely clueless. But in a specific case, with my own kids. I find that having children is what challenges me to look at the areas in my life where I need improvement more than anything else, they are – through their very existence – my best teachers in the school of life, and they are not letting me get away with things.
One could question then, why I would teach something that I seem to really suck at. However, I don’t necessarily think that is how it works. Often the very things we struggle with the most is what we come to know best eventually and what we can then teach to others. Think about a person who is learning a foreign language, who needs to study the grammar and get acquainted with all kinds of things that a native speaker knows instinctively. Who will be able to pass on the tricks and the analyses of the language that another learner of this foreign language will need? You’re right, the one who didn’t know how to do this instinctively!
By the same token, I have said I will teach time management in this course. Which is perhaps true and not true, because is time even something to be managed? Are we to conquer it and be masters of it, or is there another way to engage with time? If we talk about time management in a mainstream kind of way, I totally don’t know how to manage it. I get lost in time all day every day, and I absolutely abhor the feeling of being governed by it. So in that sense it is different from how I know/don’t know boundaries, because I haven’t gotten any better at managing time. If anything, I am probably even worse than I used to be.
What am I here to teach then? I want to say I have come to know a way to dance with time. I am not always in that dancey space – if thrown out of balance I cannot access it – but when I am in alignment I don’t feel stressed about what I am supposed to do with my time, or in my time. Perhaps this is simply an experience of flow. Everything that needs my attention is flowing to me at the right time and place, and if it doesn’t it means it isn’t meant for me to focus upon that thing in that moment, but it might come later. This way of being in the world requires a huge trust in life. I noticed yesterday when I was very out of balance due to both sleep deprivation and difficulties with my children that I was thrown of this trustful flow-state and into a metallic, controlling state when I felt as though had to push through and use force, and how sick this state makes me feel.
I don’t know to what extent this way of being in the world can be taught, or indeed if it is for everyone. We all function differently and have different preferences. But what I can do it to bare witness, and I can also share the outer conditions that seems to me to be necessary to make this work. So here is my recipe for a system of non-management of your time:
~ Don’t mix it up with other systems. Either you go for the trust-flow system, or you try to manage your time the conventional way. Mixing them just creates confusion.
~ Live a decluttered life. Don’t include ingredients in your life that you don’t actually, really really want, and that are based on other peoples expectations and preferences. This may involve quite dramatic life changes such as leaving your current job, ending certain relationships and learning to say no (boundaries).
~ Create a solid container based on your true preferences. If we want something to flow, we need something for it to flow in to give it direction (otherwise it is just all over the place). For me, this can be to dedicate time to nothing. For example, having an empty day when absolutely nothing in particular needs to happen. Some of these days nothing does happen, and other of days these turn out to be the most productive and get-shit-done days ever. With flow, never with force.
~ Know what you really want in life. What is truly important to you, and what is outside of the essential. Cut the crap.
I suppose non of this is a quick fix, and as I said – it may not be a recipe for everyone. I think if this text sparks a longing inside of you, then there might be something there. If not, then this is probably not your medicine.
Next time I offer my course, I will not put “time-management” as one of the features in the course as this is actually false advertising (sorry to anyone who feels misled!). I will call it non-management of time instead.