Is Busyness a Trauma Response?

Elephant Journal
8 min readNov 11, 2021
Image: oh_long_leslie/Instagram

This quote resonated with me deeply:

“Feeling the need to be busy all the time is a trauma response and fear-based distraction from what you’d be forced to acknowledge and feel if you slowed down.” ~ Unknown

Having gone on a long, long journey of self-discovery (and still going until my last breath), I appreciated these words sincerely because slowing down — stillness — has been the key to my healing.

But when I first entered the world of meditation or anything related to “slowing down,” I was not open to it. Coming from a religious background, I was afraid of anything remotely different from the Christianity I was raised to believe. (A cultish Christianity, not one I vibe with today.)

I entered ever so slightly and carefully into the world of quietness and inner reflection. Growing up with an extremist religious background, the guilt and grip over me for trying something outside of doctrine was frightening.

When I first started meditation, I was lying on my back, for not even a few minutes until things began to surface (a reflection of how busy I was). I hardly made the time to pause.

Instantly, anger, sadness, and guilt rose to the surface. I remember thinking, “How dare you feel this way — who are you to complain?” There was no one around, and I hardly ever spoke about my struggles with people. So what was this voice telling me to keep things locked away?

I didn’t feel I had the right to examine what I was feeling.

But in that moment, I chose to look at it and let myself feel whatever I wanted to for the first time in my life. And it was incredibly uncomfortable. I was worried, almost as if I was looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was going to ridicule me or tell me to shove it back inside.

As I sat with the discomfort, this moment turned into something incredible. A sense of lightness saturated my entire being.

But I had to go through some murky terrain to get there.

I noticed a spark of joy flutter into my mind and heart soon thereafter. Doing something completely out of my comfort zone ended up feeling good. It was like a door opened into a new space, an unfamiliar space. A sense of…

Elephant Journal

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