• Phil McAuliffe

Your busyness kills connection

Updated: Apr 4

Soul-nourishing connection requires

authentic vulnerability, time and space.

Your busyness is killing the connection you need.


Hello!


Very few gay men seek out and then read articles about loneliness unless they’ve come to the realisation that they’re lonely. The stigma and shame we feel is real, and it takes a lot of courage to even engage with the subject.


I’m proud of you for opening this article. I recognise and admire your courage. Now that you’re here, let’s start getting you connected to yourself, those most important to you and to your community.


I wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which this article was written and published. I wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of Canberra and the surrounding region. I would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be reading this article.


~ Phil


* * * * *

Have you ever noticed how many people in your life answer the ‘How are you?’ question with a response about their busyness?


When you’re asked how you are, how often do you say ‘I’m really busy’ - or something akin to it - in response?


I’m going to say this right here, in case you’re unable to read further right now: connection requires time and space and your constant busyness is killing the connection you need.


I say this with absolute certainty, because busyness kills connection for me.


What’s the source of your busyness?


If you identify as ‘busy’, what’s the source of your busyness?


I’m going to say it’s likely to be your work, because that’s what I observe around me; it’s what I hear most from you and; it’s what I feel is the source for me, too.


Yes, we’re busy at work. We often work in places of scarcity, where there’s never enough time, money or people to do the work. We feel that we need to work longer, faster and harder to get it all done. But it’s never all done, is it?


Interestingly, we seem to wear our busyness as a badge of honour. We mean something to someone - we’re important - when we’re busy, right? When we’re busy with work, we’re busy making a difference. We’re getting shit done, earning money and we get a feeling that we mean something to someone.

This can bring feelings of worth and worthiness. We can say ‘I am [insert name of job here]’ and you and all around you can attribute some kind of financial or social worth to you. It’s a way of saying where and how we belong to society. It conveys rank and prestige.


If you’re hustling to prove your value and your worth - especially in your job - you need to read this blog and listen to this episode on belonging. You also need to wake up to the fact that you’re likely looking for your worth to be given to you, not something that’s already within you.


Busyness as numbing


As gay men experiencing loneliness, our personal histories and current lived experiences are likely awash with issues and experiences that are tough to sit with. Let’s explore how we can use busyness to numb these thoughts, feelings and memories.


Busyness is celebrated in society. Unlike substance abuse or other forms of numbing and coping, busyness is socially acceptable, even encouraged. The allure of busyness is that it can really feel like we’re making progress in our endless search for worthiness and belonging: we can genuinely believe that our worth can come from how many hours we’ve worked and how much money we’ve made in that time.


Whatever. Numbing is numbing.


But busyness is often used to numb uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. The thoughts and feelings of loneliness are horrible, and they can’t catch up with us if we’re constantly on the move and doing stuff, can they? Who has time to sit with our loneliness and prioritise the doing of authentic connection when there’s so much to do?

Remember, dear reader, we humans can do almost anything to avoid these horrible thoughts and feelings and do all sorts of things that don’t serve us in an attempt to feel that we’re seen, we’re heard and that we belong. We will do almost anything to avoid uncomfortable truths and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. I wrote on numbing and how to identify it in this blog and on this podcast.


So I ask you if you’re using - or have used - busyness to numb your thoughts and emotions, how busy are you and how far away are those thoughts and feelings you’re running from?


Those thoughts and feelings of loneliness are trotting along right next to you, aren’t they? (continued…)

 

 

Busyness as avoidance and distraction


I’ve lost count at how many times I hear ‘I just need to keep myself busy’ when someone’s having a tough time emotionally. ‘Just keeping myself busy’ is dangerous and is using busyness as an avoidance strategy.


Avoidance and distraction may help you through the day, but it’s never a durable long-term strategy. It makes what we’re avoiding stronger and harder to avoid in the future.

When we hear ourselves saying that ‘keeping myself busy’ thing, we need to get brave and courageous and do the shitty thing and feel the emotions. Allow yourself to be brave and vulnerable, experience the emotions and then let them pass. Be brave and vulnerable and ask for help.


Busyness killing connection


Connections are made when we’re ready to be open and vulnerable with ourselves and those around us.

I fear that we don’t know how to do authentic connection any more, because we no longer have the time for it and we’re out of practice. And because we don’t have the time but instinctively seek connection, we look for ways that connection can fit into our lives.

We scroll social media and tap ‘like’. When we feel like sex with another man or men, we jump on to a hook-up app to see who’s nearby and available and engage in some perfunctory ‘’Sup?’ and ‘Yo’ chats while exchanging dick pics (more on hook-up apps in this blog and in this podcast). Or we go to the other extreme and open up social media and broadcast the details of our lives in an attempt to generate feelings of being seen and heard.


It’s transactional. It’s not enough. And connection doesn’t work that way.


Connection that nourishes our souls requires time, trust and vulnerability. It requires us showing up. There are no shortcuts.

When you work out a way for how authentic connection can be done quickly easily, neatly and quietly, please let me know.

I’m not immune


I feel that there’s something sinister about all this and I invite you to reflect on it for your own circumstances. Are you genuinely busy or are you hustling to feel that you are worthy and that you belong?


I certainly need to reflect. I constantly feel time poor and am often working: either in my paid 9-5 job or in any one of the three side hustles I have going on (including here at The Loneliness Guy). I constantly need to make sure that I prioritise connection and really be present when I’m in that connection zone: within myself, with those most important to me and to my community.


I’m ashamed to say that it recently took me two weeks to find the time to sit with a friend who’s husband passed away in tragic circumstances. I feel that I wrapped myself up in busyness to avoid the discomfort.


* Busyness is a choice


Please read this very slowly: your busyness is your choice.


You may have a lot of work to do and lots of demands on your time, but you can choose to NOT be busy as much as you've chosen to be busy.


This change in perspective is everything. It allows us to reframe how we view everything outside of our busyness and allows us to reprioritise it.


You may need to re-read these last few sentences from the ‘*’ a few times to let it sink in.


Two experiments


I have two social experiments for you to try after you finish reading this blog.


1. Pay attention to when you’re in a busy-off


Have you ever been a part of a busy-off? A busy-off is one of those social interactions where the participants end up having an argument - even if it doesn’t feel like it - where they each try to out-busy the other. It can get quite ridiculous, because no one in the conversation is really listening to the other, they’re looking for ways to compete to see who’s busiest and who’s more worthy of kindness, support and respect.


Essentially, a busy-off may as well involve guys opening their pants and showing their cocks to each other and determining who’s the most worthy by the size of their dicks. It sounds ridiculous, but we all know it happens and we all do it.


Please, pay attention to when you’re involved in a busy-off, and consider putting your cock/busyness away and not getting involved.


2. Do the opposite


Secondly, have you ever responded to the ‘how are you?’ question by saying that you’re calm and relaxed? This is great fun to do when you realise that you’re about to become embroiled in a busy-off. Your response will completely change the conversation and may even prompt a real conversation because you’re not playing by the social conventions.


This is one of my favourite ways of calling bullshit on the whole busyness thing. If you haven’t done it, try it next time you remember.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog or on how you’re using busyness to numb or avoid uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. So many of us do it - including me - that there’s simply no need to feel ashamed of yourself.


We all need help, including you. You need someone to help you take steps towards learning how you’re using busyness and how it’s killing the connection you need..


That could be me through my new mentoring services. That could be a therapist or a counsellor. That could be a coach. That could be someone in your orbit who you know is trying to put themselves into the world just like you are. It could be a combination of all.


What are you waiting for? Let’s kill the busyness that’s killing our connection together.


* * * * *


If reading this post has made you uncomfortable or made you think and you need some help, remember that I’m here to help. I have resources on my page if you need crisis help right now. I’ve also built a team of amazing coaches and human connection experts to help you make sense of your loneliness and to help you towards connection. These coaches and connection experts can be found here and can help you learn from your loneliness and help you towards feeling connected.


You can also join the growing community of other gay men in the exclusive Premium Connection Lounge on Facebook. It's a space for gay men prioritising their connection according to the three pillars of connection. I help the group to set weekly connection intentions, share my own and then help to keep them accountable in a supportive way.

Want to chat more about busyness killing connection? Join me for a coffee and a chat in the upcoming episode of my podcast for gay men ‘Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy’ from Thursday 24 March 2022.


Where to now?


Connection is the antidote to loneliness. Join the mailing list (free) or join the premium connection lounge on Facebook (free) and let’s stay connected as we work to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men.


The exclusive group on Facebook is a place where we have regular video chats and help and support each other as we put our real, authentic selves into the world to get the connection we need. We’d love for you to join us!


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Thank you for reading this post. I hope that you’ve found it helpful.

I’m now asking for YOUR help.


Sharing my work really helps it reach more gay men and helps us all to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men globally.


You may not feel lonely and have just the right amount of authentic connection in your life but sharing this article could really help a friend or relative who may be quietly struggling with the thoughts and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.


Indeed, I'm looking to build an evidence base to test the hypothesis that people who share content that de-stigmatises loneliness and promotes authentic connection for gay men globally make better lovers.


Please share this post by email, a message in a chat app or by sharing my post on social media (hit a social media icon below to share) and let me know if the hypothesis is true.


~ Thank you ~


Important notice: All views expressed above are my own/the authors and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult the Resources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.



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