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Overcoming “Urgency Culture”

Urgency culture is the societal expectation to always be available or 'productive.' It brings our body into chronic fight or flight and can create a lot of anxiety.

Last week’s blog I wrote about being without my phone for a few days and realized how connected we actually are.

When your phone is on, you’re on. Cell phones aren’t just for communication, they’re productivity tools. It means you can/should get more stuff done in more hours of the day. The problem is, there’s always something that needs to get done. Without a phone, it means you can't. You can't reply to an email while you’re in line at the grocery store. You can't answer a quick question from your coworker via text. You can't shop or manage your social media account while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. (Read What I Learned From Not Having A Phone For 78 Hour here

Urgency Culture is similar in many ways to hustle culture, which says we must always be doing, leaving little time for rest. But the truth is that folks actually aren't constantly free and available, so urgency culture has caused more stress, especially for those who are prone to people-pleasing habits.

This past week I was feeling extremely overwhelmed with my business and podcast I took a break to center myself and opened Instagram. Dr. Nicole LaPera's post was the first on my feed talking about Urgency Culture! What are the odds?!?! I believe God and the Universe show us what we need to see at the right time!

Dr. LaPera's post said;

Urgency culture looks like:

1. Expecting someone to get back immediately

2. Feeling like you have to respond to someone immediately

3. Being available 24/7

4. Feeling guilt or anxiety around not responding

5. Making impulsive decisions

Technology has shifted communication in a big way. We have phones where DM's, texts, calls, and emails are coming in on a consistent basis. We can feel pressure to be in constant communication or give immediate responses.

Just because we have new ways to communicate, doesn't mean we have to be in constant communication.

Having clear boundaries is necessary.

Unlearning urgency culture means:

1. Not expecting a response from someone within a certain period of time.

2. Getting back to people when we feel we have the energy and capacity (having boundaries)

3. Not assigning meaning to how people communicate

4. Being aware that everyone has a different level and style of communication

5. Giving yourself time and space to make choices around invites etc.

Society has a lot of ideas around what people being in touch with us means. For example: "if they cared, they would call." In reality, everyone communicates differently and it's not a direct sign of how they feel about us, personally.

Some reminders for coping with urgency culture:

1. Become conscious to when your nervous system needs a break from communication.

2. Understand you do not have to reply to anyone right away (especially if they have a request) you can take space to reflect

3. If you find yourself anxious over a response, find ways to self soothe. Take a break from your phone, go for a walk, call a friend, journal about your feelings.

4. Witness the stories: when we don't hear back from people stories like 'they're rude' 'they're ignoring me' etc can come up. Recognize our thoughts aren't truths and if we want to understand why someone isn't communicating with us, we can ask.

5. Don't expect everyone to share your own beliefs about how much you should be in touch

6. Let people know it's not a good time: It's perfectly ok to not be in a space to chat with someone: "I'm having a down day and appreciate you reaching out, I'll be in touch when x"

How to Combat Urgency Culture

Ask yourself some questions. Do you feel like a lazy employee, friend, parent, etc. for not answering that email or text right away? Are you measuring your worthiness solely on email response time and minimizing the other ways you excel in your job? Or maybe you expect a quick email, phone call, or text back. You don't have patience and expect people to get right back to you?

Ways to remove urgency culture:

  • Set clear boundaries. You should accept and respect each others' boundaries.

  • Not waiting constantly for the other person to get back to your missed call.

  • If you're anxious after reading other people's messages; choose to keep your phone inside and go for a walk, meditate, or journal about your feelings. This will give you clarity and help you respond in a better way. A good rule of thumb is wait 24 hours to respond to any conflicts, things you don't agree with or a disagreements.

  • There is a stereotype in relationships that you should constantly communicate with your partner, friends, and family; which isn't true. Each relationship is unique and every person is different; so don't let your relationships be guided by societal patterns. We all need to reserve energy and people shouldn't expect us to always communicate right back.

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed communicate that with your family, friends, spouse, older kids that you need a minute. Step away and collect yourself.

Boundaries are huge. Just like exercise, its a daily or few times a week practice that we can't only practice once in awhile and expect them to stick. We need to keep practicing setting boundaries.

3 boundaries to create in order to protect yourself against the demands of urgency culture

1. Disconnect and disengage when working from home. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you are required to occupy your time with other people's needs. Learning to disconnect and disengage is important for honoring your boundaries. Turn off email alerts, texts alerts, Facebook and Instagram notifications. On my new phone I do not have any alerts set up. Only when someone calls me. 2. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. 3. Communicate your boundaries. Nobody is a mind reader not even our household. The only way we can expect people to honor our needs is if we communicate what our needs are. People might assume that you are available because you are always responding to or answering their calls or emails, and they may not be aware that it’s because you feel pressured to respond, not because you have the energy or capacity to respond.

As important as it is to set boundaries with others, we must also be willing to set boundaries with ourselves to overcome the demands of urgency culture. Sometimes, we are waiting for people who cause us stress to change their behaviors and habits, instead of looking at ourselves and changing how we interact with the people who cause us stress.

Have you felt the pressure of urgency culture?

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