We live in a time of cultural contradiction. Our culture’s emphasis on speed is at odds with the conditions that promote intimacy: the slow pace and patient attitude that allow trust to develop. Only then can we risk being vulnerable. Only then can an authentic intimacy emerge between us. In a different time and cultural context — the American Revolution of the late 18th Century — Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
In our time, our souls are again on trial: in our impatient, go-go culture that celebrates speed and busyness, how do we slow down enough to build intimacy? That’s our challenge.
Many couples are floundering at an impasse: Our incessant and relentless cultural pace vs. our human need for patience and time necessary to get to know the other, build trust, and deepen intimacy.
Let’s examine the cost on us for living in a culture in which busyness is the new normal.
As an example, here’s verbatim copy from a major retailer’s ad that articulates this mindset: “ You never slow down. Your savings won’t either.” Costs of adapting to speed and busyness:
- We lose touch with nature. The rhythm of the natural world gets supplanted by the unnatural, 24/7 rhythms of the electronic and digital worlds.
- We become increasingly depleted vs. replenished and renewed.
- It’s harder to listen to our intuition and inner wisdom.
- We don’t protect time and don’t allow space for close connection and emotional intimacy to flourish.
- We feel isolated, and long to belong.
Healthy responses to these “times that try men’s souls” and deplete us all:
- Cultivate a mindful practice that calms and relaxes while reconnecting us to our center. Examples include journaling/writing, deep breathing, meditation, staying present in the now moment.
- Taking and protecting time for self-care and self-renewal: Unplug, take naps (a favorite form of self-renewal), give yourself permission for down times.
- Listen to and heed your bodily sensations. If something/someone “doesn’t feel right”, heed what your body tells you.
- Practice self-compassion, especially for your wounded, imperfect, and vulnerable parts. In our critical and shame-based culture, self-compassion needs to be practiced regularly to become integrated.
- Practice gratitude to counteract entitlement and self-absorption.
- Be kind and accept people where they are vs. staying critical, judgmental (and ending up alone).
- Spend time in nature, and get back in sync with its rhythms.