clock April 14, 2020
author Chris Sopa

Time Does Not Always Need to Be Filled

Humans tend to have an insatiable need to fill things that are empty. We do it without even realizing it. If our refrigerator is empty, we go to the store to fill it with food.

If we are having a conversation, we fill every inch of the conversation with words to avoid silence. We spend endless hours working to fill our bank account. We fill our need to fit in by having our faces constantly buried in our technology, checking social media. It is a never-ending, unconscious cycle.

Did you ever ask yourself why you feel the need to do all these things? I have. Especially recently. Everything I read, whether I am on Facebook, Instagram, or my email, is telling me how I “should” be filling my time and how I “should” be handling the current situation. (I personally have made it a habit not to “should” on anyone… especially myself.) When we get caught up in the should’s, what we truly want becomes so unclear. We start to compare what we are doing to what everyone else is doing. I will tell you a secret right now…you will never be like someone else. Ever. The only person who you can be best is YOU. The question is…who have you been pretending to be?

A glimpse into my head is scary, but I am going to give you one anyway. The recording in my brain first thing in the morning goes something like this…

I really want to sleep a little later since I don’t have any meetings scheduled this morning…but I have to get up and get some work done. (As I step on the scale…) I hate that my gym is closed! I really need to start working out more at home, or at least walking, before the number on this scale gets any larger. What the heck is wrong with my hair? It looks like someone dropped silver tinsel on my head! I have so many gray hairs! I really should pick up some hair color…but going to the store right now is such a pain in the ass! I’m not going to see anyone today, so I probably don’t need to put on any makeup. But man, the bags under my eyes! I probably should put something on my face in case I see that cute neighbor of mine when I go get the mail later…etc.

Are you getting the picture? Now, I have been doing self-development work for the last 30 years. My self-awareness is at the point where I cannot get away with letting the thoughts above go on for more than a minute or two before I intervene and shift my thinking. If I let these thoughts continue all day, by 9:00 am I would need a Xanax with my coffee. These should’s keep us in a constant loop of focusing on what we think is wrong. All of that conditioning we have accumulated over the years of how we should look, what we should do, how we should think, has made us…well…quite frankly, crazy obsessed with filling our time doing the “right” thing. In all the current madness, we are getting a lot of advice on how to fill our time.

Just for a day, I want you to try something. Try what I call “the George Costanza Method.” For those who are not Seinfeld fans, there is an episode where George does the opposite of everything he would normally do in a day, and he ends up having an amazingly successful day! Do the opposite of what you would typically do, even if it feels uncomfortable. Allow there to be silence while you are spending time with someone, resisting the urge to fill every moment with words. Allow yourself to do what you are being drawn to do, even if that is nothing. If you want to sleep a little longer, sleep a little longer. If you want to spend the day in your pajamas, do it. Resist the urge to fill your time with something that someone else is suggesting you do. Do what you want to do, even if it is just for a day.

Our urge to fill time is a natural instinct. It comes from a fear of lack. A fear of missing out. A fear of someone else doing or having something you do not. Instead of fearing, just live. Breathe. Enjoy your moments. If the time we are going through is teaching us anything, it is that those moments are not guaranteed.

Now, it is time for me to drink some wine and eat some chocolate.

Dr. Chris

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