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A slow person in a fast world

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by fern, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. fern

    fern Well known member

    There's a lot of talk about Type A personalities on here, so I wanted to bring this up and see if there are other TMSers who can relate to a different personality style.

    I'm really slow. Not of speech or necessarily of thought, but I'm absolutely a dreamer, and I don't do transitions well. I have been this way since even before I remember. I was notorious as a preschooler for dawdling and daydreaming. Transitions are very difficult for me (as in, leaving the house to go anywhere, and then leaving that place to go back home, or stopping what I'm doing to eat dinner). And it takes me longer to do things: shower, get dressed, drive places, pick an album to listen to, do the dishes, listen to someone tell their life story, tell my own life story. I often feel like my brain operates on a 26-hr day, where there's more space for dragging one's feet and hanging around.

    (Interestingly, my sleep operates this way, too. Without serious discipline, I usually fall asleep an hour or two later each day, as though my brain thinks it should take a couple more hours for the earth to spin around.)

    I also have always felt most at home in the woods or the high desert, where things are generally quiet, where the world feels expansive and nature moves at its own pace freely. I don't live in the woods or the desert, but deep in a small city. My world feels loud and close and smelly and fast to me much of the time.

    Keeping up with the world (including my husband, who is very efficient and quick, and my kid, who is young enough to not understand waiting) often feels not only mentally and physically exhausting, but stifling. I feel a constant yearning for more space. I feel hemmed in and pushed onward much of the time.

    Because I have grown up believing that I'm the one who needs to adjust, it has only just occurred to me that, to some degree, I have the freedom to create whatever life feels most authentic to me. That it's OK to live in a way that honors who I am and how my brain works. I'm currently struggling with the fact that I was raised to talk fast and loud, to engage with friendly intensity, to say yes to people, to appear comfortable in order to put others at ease, to fill silences with speech. But those behaviors feel so often different from what I want, and what's happening inside. That tension, I believe, fuels a good deal of my TMS. That, and the persistent feeling that I'm failing to live up to basic expectations (e.g. timeliness).

    I'd love to hear from other folks who are slow or dreamy and struggle with feeling rushed or overstimulated even in mundane, everyday happenings and relationships. Do you make the world see and accept your slowness, or do you try to come across as comfortably engaged with a fast, loud world? Do you feel that this fuels your TMS? Do you feel as though you're failing at things or falling short of expectations? How do you manage that?

    And if this post is too specific to exactly relate to, I'd at least love to hear people's opinions about how low-simmering tension contributes to TMS and on what it means to craft an authentic life that may operate outside of general expectations.
    Renee and westb like this.
  2. Ellen JJ

    Ellen JJ New Member

    Hi Fern,
    I am new to this forum, and have been working my way through Dr. Schubiner's book. I relate a lot to what you're writing about. I've always believed I'd be much more "balanced" if I could have nice long hike in the woods every day. Easier said than done! Adding parenthood and an external work schedule adds layers of responsibilities. One of the hardest things about doing the emotional/psychological work in the book is just finding physical space where I can be alone and the time to do the work when I am not exhausted.
    I don't have great answers. But 12 years ago my husband and I moved from a large commute-heavy city back to the midwest. Having everything within a shorter drive and city parks really has helped lower my daily stress load, but it didn't prevent me from developing TMS 4 years ago. I am adding mediation to my day and while I feel better when I do it it is difficult to carve out the time - letting go of feeling like I always have work to do is such a struggle. The pace of the modern world is just exhausting! Also, I think you can be a little type A as well as more introverted at the same time. I have to be at work fairly early. I lay out my clothes, pack my lunch, and program the coffee pot the night before to make my mornings earlier, and I get up early enough that I have time to sit with my coffee and a novel (no news, no phone) for about 20 minutes each morning. That has helped. As far as work - I'm a teacher and the schedule is killer. New group of students every 50 minutes...I try and be as mindful as possible and plan for time "staring at the wall" when I get home on Fridays. However, these feel like bandaids. Ideally I'd love to just teach 75 students, instead of 120. I think I could balance that and time for my own kids and myself. But, bills. I know when I have weeks with fewer meetings and activities I do better psychologically.

    Does the city you live in have a botanical garden you could visit? What about an art museum? (I know art museums aren't natural but they have a quiet openness about them that might have a similar feel for you.) Have you read the book "quiet"? I think that's what it is called. Something about introverts in today's world. I've not read it but it's on my summer list. You might find something you like there. Best of luck to you!
    readytoheal likes this.
  3. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Yes, yes, yes and yes! It was so good read this post @fern as I see so much of myself in your description.

    One of my earliest school memories is being surprised out of the pleasure of eating my lunch by a teacher admonishing me for my slowness. Everyone else had finished and left the hall - I was just happily eating my food! I remember my shocked feeling as the teacher explained I 'should' be loading the next mouthful of food onto my fork while still chewing the previous one... Who knew! The five-year-old me struggled to understand why I couldn't just carry on enjoying my meal. This is just one little example of how from an early age I felt I had to start re-conditioning my natural way of being to better fit into the world. I know that all of us have to do this to be able to live in the society of which we are part. But as a sensualist and daydreamer and someone who just loves nothing more than to be immersed in the beauty of life, it can sometimes feel like an impossible compromise. Like you, for much of my life I have ended up over-compensating for my 'failings' by trying to be the liveliest person in the room and exhausting myself in the process. No more, no more.

    Your post was particularly timely for me as only yesterday I was talking with my therapist about how I can better juggle the current demands of setting up my own business, with my natural desire to a) do things really carefully and slowly, and b) to take a lot of time out to enjoy the simple pleasures of life outside of work. When I am super busy and unable to do all of the things I feel I need to do do in order to be me - walking in the countryside, gardening, yoga, meditating, reading, drawing, knitting - I know that it feeds directly into my likelihood to get pain. (Right now, I am sitting here watching the rain on the window and feeling angry that I was not able to get outside in my garden while the sun was out earlier because I was working.) I become resentful of the work (even though I love what I do) and get into thought loops about how I have to find a way to escape from it, run away, to live a radically simpler life...
    We talked too about how not taking that time out probably reignites the feelings of overwhelming responsibility I had as a child in my family and the attendant fear of not being able to cope. The child in me still craves the time to sit staring at the sky or noticing the tiny details in a leaf, even though I probably spend a much greater proportion of my life than most people actually doing this kind of stuff! It does make me wonder though how much of this 'dreaminess' and desire for slowness is actually my natural self and how much a response to having an overwhelmed nervous system from an early age...

    I struggle with being on other people's 'conveyor belts' - my husband (who was brought up on 'never be late for anything or the world will end') seriously cannot cope with the speed at which I want to live a lot of the time. Compromises are reached, but, like you, I find it difficult at times navigating a world that favours the confident and the quick. The tension builds up, the pain kicks in...

    So I am with you on this journey for authenticity, this search for a way of being that is more in tune with our inner selves - and I wish us quiet courage on our quest! Thanks for sharing these insights.
    readytoheal likes this.

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