Resolving a persistent “time crunch”

There are 3 main limitations that people experience:

time crunch
cash crunch
health challenges

crushing a clock

Sometimes, the easiest issue to remedy is a time crunch. Here’s a story to clarify that.

Imagine a single parent who lives in the remote wilderness in the 18th century. Even with lots of money, there are no stores around for buying food. In fact, there are no people around except for that one parent and the offspring.

If that person experiences stress related to raising the children, there are literally no adults around to assist. The single parent could be a bear or a human. Either way, they need basic things like food and safety, right?

If the parent cannot buy food, then they would have to find it or grow it. Even with lots of time to grow food, growing food takes more than just time. It takes water, healthy soil, sunlight, and so on. Plus, one cold wave could freeze to death an entire harvest.

So, that person could face a real time crunch in relation to something like the end of daylight or the approach of winter. Maybe they have only a certain amount of food or fuel, and a scarcity of crucial resources creates a time crunch for them.

Their health is at risk. For them, time is a factor in promoting their health. They could already have a health crisis and time could be a factor in it. Or, they could anticipate a possible health crisis in the near future and again time could be an important factor in preventing an anticipated crisis.

That situation might not be easy to remedy. Some time crunches are easier to remedy than others. The single parent in the wilderness in the 18th century may not have someone from the government coming to their door every week and offering to donate food and fuel or medical services.

So now let’s jump ahead to the 21st century. For most people in the world, they are within a day’s journey of an enormous amount of food and other wealth. Near them, there are an abundance of resources that are easy to find (just look for any grocery store).

However, modern people have so much wealth in their midst that they may not have developed their social skills much. They have not needed to.

They may have had plenty of money to buy food most of their lives. If they have a sudden cash crunch, they may be terrified and ashamed of their terror (rather than humble and openly desperate).

They may even know that there is government assistance available for someone with a low amount of earned income (note that “earned” income may exclude things like alimony or child support payments). However, they may be too ashamed to apply for assistance (and very ironically they may refer to their shame as “pride”). Do they refuse to ask for help because of too much pride, or from not enough self-respect (or we could say not enough commitment)?

By the way, I was raised in a middle class household (financially stable) and then later in life I obtained something that is generally called “food stamps.” (Actually, I did not receive any actual stamps, but just a plastic card that was charged with some credit for buying food.)

Of various experiences that I personally have found to be embarrassing, obtaining assistance was quite unremarkable. I was grateful to receive the assistance although impatient about how long it took (which, as I recall, was less than a week). I was not embarrassed about receiving the assistance. I may have been embarrassed about my financial situation at the time, but whether or not I got assistance for buying food, that issue was totally independent of any embarrassment about my overall financial situation.

Getting assistance helped my situation. So, how would getting assistance itself be embarrassing?

I learned a fantastic “cure” for the embarrassment about my overall financial situation. I call that cure “humiliation” and it results in something I call “humility.”

Much more stressful for me (than getting credits for buying food) was a moderate health crisis. I say moderate because there was no immediate risk of death.

Briefly, I lost the ability to walk in early 2007. That motivated me to ask for help from friends and strangers. Some strangers helped and some did not. Naturally, some friends helped more than others.

I did recover physically and in the process I developed self-respect that was not present before. In other words, there was shame and grief that I had suppressed prior to that which I released. I will come back to the issue of repressed emotion soon.

First, recall that we were imagining a single parent in the 21st century (and not in the wilderness). Imagine that there is plenty of food around them.

However, to access the food, people use money (including credits issued by a government). So, if someone gets a monthly credit for buying food, but uses most of that credit in the first week, I do not call that a time crunch. That is just a money crunch.

If they are hungry or even starving, again that is not a time crunch. That is a health challenge.
What is a time crunch? That is a great question.

When there is a background of health challenges and economic scarcity, then we can have a time crunch. For instance, earlier, I mentioned the time crunch of an approaching winter.

Generally, a time crunch is a label for having a limited amount of time to handle a cash crunch or a health challenge. However, that is not always the case.

A time crunch is about perception and time management. For many modern people, what they call a time crunch is actually stress about a lack of social competence.

This may be a startling idea, so let’s explore it. If someone desires to have more food for winter and there is plenty of food around plus a variety of ways for them to get it (from government charity or private charity), then there is an obvious solution. However, many people do not use the obvious solution (or only after a period of resisting it). Why?

People resist a particular method in order to create a perception of a time crunch. They create an outlet for grieving.

With grieving, they may withdraw from familiar social contacts. By withdrawing, they can observe who (if anyone) reaches out to them. If anyone shames or ridicules them, they can observe that, too.

Why would someone create a breakdown like that? Why would they sabotage their situation? I have done it myself and witnessed it many times in others.

My answer is simple. By creating a cause for withdrawal, they can reduce their social interaction dramatically. Why would that be so valuable?

Imagine that someone is in a room full of radios and all of the radios are turned up very loud but playing different stations. There is too much going on to actually enjoy any of the stations. The conflicting sounds could be very disorienting and even stressful.

So, creating a cause for withdrawal is a response to social stress. Instead of being disoriented and irritable, someone who withdraws can then occasionally give attention to individual interactions and really notice their own experience. Which subjects are stressful and which are relaxing? Who consistently offers goodwill and useful insight? Who consistently offers ridicule and harassment?

If there is plenty of money and plenty of health, then creating a time crunch can justify withdrawal. If someone is used to emotional harassment, then by withdrawing they can notice if they are pursued or allowed to withdraw without harassment.

Further, out of a lack of social skills (such as the ability to quickly distinguish between social threats and social allies), people may even create other challenges. The challenge simplifies their social context. It creates an interruption to prior momentums.

Sometimes, a time crunch can be resolved because it is really a cash crunch or a health challenge. Or, it may be even easier to resolve… really just a call for focused, supportive attention. After attracting supportive attention, the reality of finances and health can be calmly assessed and maybe there is no crisis. But if someone is terrified because of limited social skills by the possibility of a crisis, then they may need a supportive ally just to face the simple facts.

In other cases, there can be a lasting value to developing time management skills and practices. In that case, people may have sufficient health and wealth, but simply wish to casually explore different ways of prioritizing time and organizing their schedule.

Which would you prefer to explore next:

improving wealth
improving health
improving time management

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