In the fast-paced world we live in, the temptation to RUSH is everywhere. Fast cars, fast food, fast internet… Our attention spans are limited to roughly 8 seconds. If this page hadn’t loaded in under 5 seconds, you might not be reading this.
When it comes to relationships, speed is not your friend. The way we’re wired as humans, we just can’t do relationships fast without rushing.
So for your heart’s sake, don’t rush. Read on to slow down.
1. There may be more to the story.
Have you ever gotten a terrible first impression of someone who turned out to be a wonderful friend? What about the opposite? There’s a reason you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or a person by your first quick take.
When you rush your decisions about people, you’re making decisions almost blindly, which means there’s a good chance you’re mishandling information. The brain actually processes information across the synapses differently when we are not calm. If you’re anxious, angry, drunk or high, there’s no way you can think well.
2. Emotions may be a factor.
The heart and psyche make good copilots, and most can agree that the brain makes the best driver when it comes to decision-making. But can you guess which is the worst? You probably can…
Emotions are an incredible gift. Unfortunately, they are terrible at calling the shots. You can probably attest to the sticky situations you can find yourself in when you let anger, frustration, or even excitement take the reigns. After things haven’t gone well, no one asks themselves, “What was I feeling???”
When you’re feeling emotional (even if those emotions are good), it’s always best to take a step back, press pause on your decision-making, and make sure a qualified driver is at the wheel.
3. Your first reaction usually isn’t the best one.
Remember at the doctor’s office when the doctor would take a small plastic hammer and tap your leg just below your kneecap? Your leg would swing out, completely out of your control. If you’re anything like I was as a kid, you were probably fascinated.
“Knee-jerk reactions” are named after this little test because, much like your leg flying out from under your seat, words often fly out of our mouths when the hammer falls on the right spot. What do you say when you stub your toe? Probably nothing good. Keeping your reactions in check is just as important as keeping your actions in check. The more calm and in control you are, the more you can respond, instead of react.
4. Some problems may solve themselves, if you’re patient!
“Everything will be right in the end,” “It all comes out in the wash,” “It’ll work itself out.” These are crummy excuses to do nothing and even worse excuses to do what you want without considering the outcome.
That being said, sometimes we worry about our decisions so much we forget that the outcome may not be in our hands. Time is a luxury; we don’t always have it. But, when we do, it’s better to be patient and see how the situation evolves. A good habit to develop is asking yourself, “Do I need to decide right now? Will I learn more to make a better decision if I delay my decision?”
5. There’s just no good reason to rush.
Hurry becomes a nasty habit, and is a ugly side effect of overwhelm. The need for speed is largely a demand we put on ourselves. We put deadlines on ourselves (pressure!) when there’s no need for one and then wonder why we are all in such a hurry. If you can think with a “for now” approach, you give yourself the freedom to slow down or speed up as the situation unfolds.
Some years ago, a small group of Western missionaries were being led on a weeklong journey into the bush by several of their native hosts to meet with a neighboring tribe. After two days of pushing the guides to move as fast as they could to make better use of their time, the third morning the guides explained they were not ready to travel any further that day. When asked why by their Western friends, the answer was, “We need to allow our souls to catch up.”
Rushing isn’t good for your relationships. Or your soul. Slow. Down. Your heart will thank you.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.