Living in the fast lane of life has become “the norm”. This sentiment is plastered on Instagram, advertised on television, and ingrained in our media. There is always a task or project that needs to be addressed or someone that requires our full and undivided attention. Somedays, we wish there were more of us to get things done. As we bounce back into reality, we know that we are ultimately responsible. With so much looming over our heads, the feeling of being overwhelmed and the expectation to deliver is a lot for one person to manage. Oftentimes, we attempt to push through these difficult or overwhelming situations. The longer we stay in the fast lane, the harder it is to gain traction and be successful.
There is a lot of energy and adrenaline that comes from being in the fast lane. It can be exciting to be part of something big and successful. On the other hand, it can also be draining and can lead to burnout. Being in this constant state of motion or “emotion” can lead to tasks going unfinished, and people forgotten. As we get sucked into the vortex of the fast lane, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters to us due to the level of stress we are under. Typically, this happens gradually over time, until one day we just simply can’t cope. On the inside, we feel tired and defeated. On the outside, we get angry and blame those around us for how we are feeling. When we get to this point, we are operating in a reactive mode. With every interaction we can find fault in anyone; the way they talk, the questions they ask, their behavior, the way they drive, etc. Everyone else is the problem. Operating in this state of mind is dangerous and compromises the most important things in life. We can destroy without realizing it.
Removing ourselves from the fast lane of life is possible with self-awareness and the willingness to make a change. If we can’t be proud of ourselves in how we choose to behave and react to others, then it is up to us to shift our priorities. Change doesn’t happen immediately; it happens over time. It’s a process that begins with the awareness of our thoughts and feelings followed by the options we give ourselves based on what we want to accomplish.
Let me give you an example.
A friend of mine was going through some challenges with his business. It was growing exponentially. New challenges were created by the combination of not being able to produce enough product and not having enough staff on hand. Never having experienced this before, he found himself in the fast lane of life. His knee-jerk reactions to those around him were neither supportive nor friendly. He acknowledged that he felt on edge with everyone, yet he was experiencing paralysis. Meaning, he was wearing his emotions on his sleeve, making a choice to react to his situation (instead of responding to it), with zero accountability. This happens to the best of us, running so fast and hard, we lose sight of our purpose and goals.
So how do we make a change? This begins with a bit of science. According to Brene Brown, “often, we automatically react to something with big emotion, it’s because our emotion got stuck in our Amygdala part of our brain and we react without using our logical/thinking part of brain (the Pre-Frontal Cortex).” When our emotions can’t reach our logical brain, the negative thoughts of anger, fear hurt, anxiety and revenge can consume us. This emotional state delays us from really being able to think through our feelings, emotions, and behaviors. The more aware we become of our emotions, what we are feeling, why we are feeling and experiencing it, the greater depth and understanding we will have over ourselves. It is like our brains get overloaded and prevent us from taking logical steps to resolve issues.
This being said, we are still accountable for choosing to take things off our plates to relieve our brains of their stress. This may require bringing in others to assist with a project, confiding in a friend, counseling, or making time to relax. These are all solutions for our fast- paced lives. Like most things, we need to remember to balance our life and success. If spending time on self-care, friendships, and relaxation are not accounted for, then we are stretching ourselves too thin. Things will eventually start to fall apart, and our standards will eventually dematerialize. The fast lane can be fun, energizing and productive if balanced with awareness and respect. The choices are ours to make.
Living in fast lane with zero awareness is like driving a car with no traction control. The more reactive we become in our countermeasures, the more we lose control. Robin Bush