I must sound the alarm on myself. We’re almost halfway through 2008, and I have barely made progress on my New Year’s resolution to banish chronic tardiness from my life forever.
I did try. I did.
There were actually a few days I arrived to work, church and appointments early. That was usually by accident, but it happened. For the most part, I have baffled myself with the insanity of this habit. Embarrassment, the irritation of others and self-recriminating thoughts have done nothing to ward off the problem.
I stumbled across two articles recently that have shed more light on how I can get help for my time-challenged self. The first, written by Dr. Keith Ablow, provided a quiz to assess how lateness was affecting one’s life. I took it eagerly, and though I won’t disclose my score, it was clear that I needed to conquer my foe. The article offered possible reasons for the problem.
The first possibility is anxiety. When feeling anxious about an approaching deadline, one’s emotions can apparently act as resistors in the brain’s circuitry, pushing us away from the source of the discomfort. Once you find out what the problem is, you must come up with a scheme to address it.
Another possibility is power. Sometimes a person uses lateness to subconsciously pull rank. The person or people left waiting could balance things out simply by telling the latecomer what that lateness does to them and ask for a better time to meet.
A third, very intriguing reason for lateness is to find out if one can be loved unconditionally. We can keep people waiting in many interesting ways: by not giving wanted information immediately, not fulfilling a certain task on time, etc. The lateness issue may be just one test of many designed to see what a relationship is made of. More serious emotional reasons for lateness could include depression, attention deficit disorder and substance abuse.
Geneen Roth, best known for her writing on emotional eating, linked her crazed hurrying before events and meetings to an eating binge. It’s like shoving lots of things in without really tasting any of them. I immediately identified. She had more than three hours to get ready for an event. Her husband showered, shaved, dressed and then sat down to wait on her. She rushed around the house cleaning dishes, washing clothes, watering plants, things that had nothing at all to do with getting ready for the event.
Her husband gently prompted her. She dropped her last-minute cleaning spree to take a shower, then began hurriedly to get dressed. The first outfit didn’t look quite right, so she discarded that for another. She rushed to apply makeup, do her hair and finally whizzed out the door, breathless and probably just a few minutes late to the event. I wondered if she’d placed a hidden camera in my house.
To stop rushing, we must learn to move at something called soul speed, calmly and peacefully going about our activities. I love it. Whenever I do just one thing before leaving my house (like wake up and get dressed) I usually can make my appointments on time. When I tackle three or more activities before dressing, I end up rushing and late. A light bulb is burning brightly in my head now.
Now, if only I can squelch the urge to water my plants before work, or wash that one glass on the counter, or ...