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The Pitfalls of Busyness and Trauma: Navigating Emotional Needs

Updated: Jan 6



As we say goodbye to 2023 and welcome 2024, a lot of us want to start fresh and begin with a clean slate. You want to focus on all the positives and affirm a fantastic new year!


What I think we should be mindful of is balance, you don’t want to keep reaching and lunging for that high - the best, most fun experience; yet you don’t deserve to wallow in misery either.  


The truth is, without dealing with the past, you can’t move forward emotionally, physically or spiritually.  You need to learn your life lessons on your way to fulfilling your dharma, your purpose. 


In this weekly post, we briefly explore the importance of not perpetually keeping busy to avoid uncomfortable feelings, of not shoving them down in place of a better, more joyful thought or fun experience. 


The Blue Car

How do traumas or past experiences creep up on us?  Here is an example adapted from Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul.1 You're driving to the beach with your family on a beautiful sunny day.  Everyone is excited and you have a fresh hot coffee in the cupholder when you suddenly start to feel frustrated, angry, and hurt. You lash out at your wife when she asks you a question about the weather.  You snap at your child for singing so loud in the car.  What everyone doesn’t realize is that you saw a blue volkswagen drive by.  The car was similar to the one your ex-girlfriend drove 20 years ago.  That simple and unexpected trigger of an emotional wound that hasn’t healed threatens to ruin your whole day.  If you let it. 





TRAUMA

Gabor Mate (Myth of Normal) discusses how "trauma isn’t want happens to you, it is what happens inside of you."2  So we can also assume that trauma can occur when something doesn’t happen to you but should have.  You aren’t your trauma, you experienced it and it wounded you, it impacted you. Whether you were abused as a child or your emotional needs weren’t met, something happened inside of you as a response to that pain or neglect.  Just because you didn't experience or even possibly can't remember Big T trauma involving violence, abuse or catastrophic events, Little T trauma events such as divorce, poor working conditions, or bullying make an impact over time.



Repercussions

The problem remains that when a trigger shows up reminding you of the trauma, or stressful event, you feel pain.  Often in our society, we choose to keep busy and distract ourselves from that feeling because it is uncomfortable.  That doesn’t mean it will go away, it will keep coming back until you face it.  An even bigger problem is that there is vast literature now linking childhood trauma and adult physical illness. 


Busy schedules can create the illusion of productivity, making you believe you are achieving more than you actually are. In reality, avoiding emotional needs whether it is stress or trauma, perpetuates a cycle of temporary relief followed by a return of the same issues.  In fact, you can be living in the sympathetic mode, your fight or flight, overstimulated and overworked leading to burn out, relationship issues, depression and anxiety. 


Loss of Self

What is even more problematic is that if you are in the habit of staying busy, you are cutting yourself off from your communication with your inner Self.  You are not listening to your emotional guidance system (the way your spiritual Self communicates with you).  


Forgiveness

It is important to remember that we all have traumas and stress in our lives.  We are having a human experience, learning and growing. Forgiving yourself and others as ultimately loving spiritual beings doing the best we can with what we know during this lifetime. 


SPACE - Giving Attention and Care to ALL parts of You. 

So, let’s start fresh and learn to navigate all of your emotions so that when traumas are triggered, they become less painful every time you choose to acknowledge them.  Adopting some of these practices below allow you to SLOW DOWN and take care of your body, mind and soul. 



1. Embracing Mindful Practices

Instead of succumbing to the allure of perpetual busyness, consider incorporating mindful practices into your routine.  Meditation, journaling, or simply taking a moment to check in with your emotions can be transformative. These practices create a SPACE for self-awareness and cultivate a deeper understanding of your emotional needs.  


2. Breathe

Regular breath-work, ‘pranayama’ practices have a positive effect on your nervous system.  There are so many benefits to your body and mind such as better sleep, improved mood, increased focus, and self-esteem. Mindful and deep breathing allows for oxygen to enter each cell in your body.3  Using breathing techniques during a triggering or stressful experience can also help you navigate the emotions from a more calm and balanced state of being. 


3.  Opening the Heart Chakra: Meditation

Find a comfortable seat on a pillow, shoulders back and down, belly button towards your spine, lengthen through the crown of your head to create space for a neutral posture. 


💚 Picture a green light in the centre of your chest. 


💚 Pulsing. Rotating. Growing. 


💚 Initiate feelings of love. 


💚 Feel the space around this centre within your body. 


💚 Notice the energy growing outside of your body expanding around your chest. 


💚 Feel this energy around your whole body. 


💚 When your mind wanders as it does, thank the thought, calmly release it and bring your attention back to this light. 


💚 You may also focus on silently chanting Love. 


Love.  Love.  Love. 


Meditating on the heart chakra for 10 minutes a day increases joy, happiness and peace. Instead of letting other things outside of you make you feel happy or sad, rely on your inner light energy to create happiness for YOURSELF.  In fact, scientific studies are beginning to find a link between positive emotions and their beneficial impact on our immune system.4  Heart coherence creates a balance in all of your body’s systems allowing for physical and emotional health and well-being.  


4. Cultivating Presence: Living in the Present Moment

The essence of many spiritual teachings revolves around being present in the moment. Busyness often pulls us away from the present, scattering our attention across a multitude of tasks. By choosing not to be perpetually busy, we create space for mindfulness and cultivate a deeper connection with the present moment. This presence becomes a gateway to spiritual awareness, allowing us to experience the richness of life, in all of its peaks and valleys. 



In a Nutshell

Choosing not to busy yourself with tasks as a means of avoiding emotional needs of trauma, stress or conflict, is a powerful step that will impact all aspects of your life - your career, finances, relationships, mental health etc. Practices that nurture emotional health, such as meditation and self-reflection, become bridges connecting your physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions.


Thinking positively, and finding joy are important aspects of living a fulfilling life while also accepting and processing ALL of your experiences.  In this space, integrating the body, mind and spirit, you can move closer to peace, calm and joy more of the time while recognizing and accepting your lessons as an opportunity for growth.  True success and happiness in all areas of your life will begin to flourish.  


Enjoy what this new year brings, as this winter season is a time for reflection, relaxation, acceptance and appreciation. 


Much love on your journey.

Yours in community,















  1. Singer, Michael A. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. 1st ed., Oakland, New Harbinger Publications, 2007.

  2. Maté, Gabor. The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture. Knopf Canada, 2022.

  3. Silva, Lauren, and Rufus T. Spann. “Breathwork: What Is It And How Does It Work?” Forbes, 13 June 2023, https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/breathwork/. Accessed 5 January 2024.

  4. Stellar, J. E., et al. “Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines.” PubMed, vol. 15, no. 2, 2015, pp. 129-133.

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