Inside and Outside Time

Day 353 Week 51 Q4 Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The outside world seems to use the same clock, and time passes at the same rate. I called this physical time. Then there is my internal sense of time, which is some combination of mental and emotional, and it is far more erratic. It slows down and speeds up all of the time, pun intended. My internal clock is capable of going far faster than the external reality and also much more slowly. I am sure this is true for you too. And it is not anything to be upset about because the way time flows inside of you is the way it really is for you. But then it needs to be reconciled without outside time.

For example, I often have unrealistic expectations about how quickly things can get done. Emotionally I want them done yesterday. Psychologically, I have to understand that this is not possible. And that is when the inner battle sometimes begins; we tend to beat ourselves up because things are taking longer than we want. Of course, they are. We want everything to happen right now, but it can’t.

Sometimes, things are actually progressing at quite a reasonable rate, externally by objective measures and the consensus reality we all agreed upon and manifested in the clock. Some of the time, a great deal is actually being accomplished by any standard measure of elapsed time, yet emotionally, we feel that we have to be done by now, and then begin to beat ourselves up for not going faster. It can be helpful to remember that our internal clock can always outrun or outpace any physical clock. Emotions do not run at the speed of the external clock. They never did. We also have a survival benefit to them, not following the external clock. We have a vote over thousands of years of dealing with external threats, and no we could not just stop the clock internally, emotionally, and psychologically, or we would be dead heaven fallen pray to some predator.

So try to understand yourself as you have evolved a magnificent internal clock for dealing with circumstances that, for the most part, dominated our lives 10,000 years ago, not today. If all I do is get a few good things done every day that progress me toward my goals and are consistent with who I think I am, I have to accept this as good enough, even though I can certainly imagine accomplishing much more and accomplishing it much more quickly. To this, I say tough. You are already accomplishing more per unit of time than most of the human race in the terms that you care about.

It may be that you can only be highly productive for a few hours a day and that they are not always the same hours during the day, although they do tend to occur in waves, which I will call roughly early and late. Why early and late? In the middle of the day, there are many interruptions to dealing with all of those predators, real and imagined.

Your inside time and your outside time will never be the same as they are separated by 10,000 years. You just have to accept both of them for what they are. And don’t beat yourself up for only being highly productive a few hours a day. Creative work takes gestation and takes more time than ditch-digging.