Why Are We All So busy?
Published on July 15, 2015 by Diane Dreher, Ph.D. in Anger in the Your Personal Renaissance



Americans are busier than ever, our days crammed with commitments. Some attribute this frantic pace to advancements in technology, the price of 24/7 connectivity. But there may be a deeper reason.

Each of us is naturally motivated to grow, develop, and become what Carl Rogers called “fully functioning.” But too often our natural development gets blocked. As children, we all need love and acceptance, “positive regard” from those around us, or as Dan Siegel explains, “secure attachment” so that our brains develop internal attunement and resilience (Rogers, 1961; Siegel, 2007).  If we feel securely attached and accepted by our parents, valued for who we are, we develop a healthy sense of self-worth.

There’s a world of difference between acceptance and approval. If we don’t get the acceptance we need as children, we experience only conditional approval, determined by meeting our parents’ expectations. To gain their approval, we strive to please them, motivated by “shoulds.” And this unhealthy dynamic can set us off on a lifelong chase for approval, compulsively craving external validation by others.


Our “need” for approval drives us with an inner voice of unworthiness, sets up other people as our judge. To appease the inner critic, we can become compulsive caretakers, discounting our own needs to please others.


This unhealthy pattern can follow us into our jobs and adult relationships, putting us in a state of chronic stress. And as studies have shown, stress undermines our physical and emotional health, often leading to burnout and breakdown (McGrady, 2007).


One way to break this unhealthy pattern is mindfulness meditation (Kabat-Zinn, 2013; Williams, Teasdale, Segal, & Kabat-Zinn, 2007). Instead of cramming our days with busyness to fill the emptiness inside, we can live at a deeper level, beginning the day with a brief mindfulness practice—even 5 or 10 minutes makes a difference-- tuning in to our bodies with mindful yoga, and when we  get caught up in a frenzy of busyness, pausing to take a deep, mindful breath, silencing the voice of unworthiness with a deep sense of self-compassion.




Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Books.


McGrady, A. (2007). Psychophysiological mechanisms of stress: A foundation for the stress management therapies. In P.M. Lehrer, R. L. Woolfolk, & W. E. Sime (Eds.), Principles and practice of stress management (3rd ed., pp. 16-37). New York, NY: Guilford Press.


Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Siegel, D. J. (2007). The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.


Williams, M., Teasdale, J., Segal, Z., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). The mindful way through depression: Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. New York, NY: Guilford Press.