If love makes the world go round, why am I
going round in circles faster than ever and not getting the love?
Miriam Dyak

Ever have the feeling that more and more things are piling up on you? Do you notice that the to do lists just seem to get longer and somehow doing all that stuff feels less satisfying than it should? Or, perhaps you try to get through to some corporate office and find yourself shunted through a veritable obstacle course of impersonal electronic hurdles. Do you rush around getting kids to soccer practice, aging parents to doctor's appointments, yourself to work on too little sleep? What happened to a sense of people connecting and experiencing life together? What's missing?

What often is missing is relationship - not the getting stuff done together part of relationship, not the figuring out plans part of relationship (though both of those are really important), but the being together part of relationship where you actually connect with another person and feel their connection to you. This happens most often when we take time to listen, to connect face to face, when we relax, tell stories, when we notice how we feel and are really present with others. I'm not just talking about marriage and family - I mean work and community relationships too.

For many of us panicked by job and economic pressures, driven by increasing responsibilities, we're likely to say, "I know relationship is important, but I can't afford to take the time anymore." If it were true that it's not possible to both tend to business and create real connection at the same time, you'd be right. The good news, though, is that it is actually possible to do both. It just takes a different kind of consciousness.

First of all, we have to notice how we ourselves change when we go into the high gear of "taking care of business." Our minds tend to be fully occupied with information about what has to happen - what we have to do and what we're depending on others to do. There's not much room for anything else, and from the standpoint of that taskmaster part of ourselves nothing else is really needed. Without even realizing it, we've switched into a part of ourselves that really doesn't do anything else but take care of business. And, from the perspective of the person who is focused on what has to get done, developing relationship becomes one more thing to do. That means there really isn't much life in our connections with people when that taskmaster gets hold of them, and so that kind of relationship doesn't feel so great to them or to us.

In our western culture today we can become so used to compartmentalizing and organizing all the details, that we tend to compartmentalize ourselves on the inside too. The feeling parts of us that can really connect in relationship of all kinds get left by the wayside because we've gotten the idea that they'll only get in the way, that we have no time for them. What a surprise that when we start really feeling our connections with other people, we slow waaaay down! It's kind of like falling in love. We forget about all the things on the list and pay attention to the other person, how it feels being with them, how we can nurture that connection. It feels wonderful to feel that real human connection again, and if it can, the planning/organizing/doing self will try to convince us "it's fine to do that sort of thing when you're young and don't have so many responsibilities, but you can't afford that now."

No matter how busy you are, you really can't afford to forget relationship. Without a real connection, without an energetically felt presence, important cues are missed, business contracts are lost, families disintegrate, your physical health can suffer, and actually less gets done than you might expect because it's simply not as pleasurable doing it. Focusing on task after task seems so sensible in the short run, but in the long run we need balance. And we're so much happier if we also enjoy life and people while we get things done.

The secret is to get out of 'either/or' framework and learn to both feel and think at the same time. It's not as difficult as you might imagine. Your taskmaster/planner is a wonderful part of yourself - couldn't do without it! The part of you that can be present, feel, and energetically connect with others is vital in order for you to read people and situations well. Without it you won't know when trouble is brewing, won't sense when you're running out of energy, and you could miss out on some of the most enjoyable parts of relationship... there "won't be any there there." There's no reason really that we can't have both these excellent parts of ourselves available at all times. It's just cultural conditioning and habit that makes them seem so incompatible.

The Voice Dialogue process is one way to get to know these opposites inside yourself and begin to find balance between them. Up to now they may have been fighting over you - fighting for your time, your priorities, your world view. Instead of being the rope between them in their tug of war, why not invite both of them be present in your everyday life, but... on your terms. It may take a little work separating from these opposites and some practice holding center between them, but it feels so much better when your brain and heart function together.

Having that balance can result in a business meeting where you go over the fine print and at the same time communicate a level of connection and support that makes everyone on both sides of the table really want to work together. It can mean a family meeting where tough questions come up and your kids get that you're really listening to them even while you hold firm to some important rules. In friendship and intimate partnership it can mean meeting face to face and delighting in each other again, not just always working side by side and focusing only on what has to get done. Using these parts of yourself to their best advantage rather than letting them take over your life and use you to their advantage is a sure way to slow down the running in circles and begin to feel more of the love that makes your world go round.