I recently had an experience that left me feeling shamed and bullied. I wasn’t bullied in the way that we frequently hear about on social media. I was shamed because I’m “too busy” and I was made to feel like I have a problem.

In the past, as a recovering people pleaser, I would have succumbed to the guilt and shame, and bent over backwards to “fix” the situation. But, this time was different. I felt bullied and manipulated. And, it wasn’t okay.

What is busy shaming? Basically, it’s when a person lays guilt or shame on another person because of their “busy” schedule. I believe that it crosses over into bullying when it’s done to hurt someone or to manipulate them to get more of their time.

It’s not the first time this has happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I can recall a time many years ago when a well-meaning Christian mentor told me I was “too B.U.S.Y.” and that it stood for “Bound Under Satan’s Yoke”. It left me questioning my spirituality, and wondering if my being busy truly was evil? I now know better. When we throw religiosity into the mix, we have now entered the realm of spiritual abuse. Being busy isn’t inherently bad or evil. And, it is not okay for others to make assumptions, shame us, manipulate us, or bully us about it.

We all go through busy seasons in our life where there are a lot of demands on our time, or when life events throw us curve-balls and we aren’t as available as we would like to be.

I would admit that my life is fuller than most. I have a husband, a blended family consisting of four children at various stages of life, a grandbaby, a business, and I am blessed with many friends. I enjoy being involved in groups and organizations that I find fulfilling. I try to maintain a regular practice of self-care. And beyond that, “life happens” as it does to all of us.

The truth of the matter is I like my life. In fact, I love it. I feel that I am living a life of purpose and passion and I will not apologize or be shamed for it. Nor should you. We should never have to apologize for who we are or the lives we have chosen. Nor should we apologize for the way we choose to spend our time.

That said, there definitely are times when busyness becomes a challenge. When we are busy for the sake of being busy and/or our schedule becomes so imbalanced that it doesn’t allow for rest, self-care, relaxation, then we need to re-evaluate. We certainly don’t want to become hamsters on a wheel and fall victim to the effects of chronic stress on our bodies. I believe this is one of the reasons why being busy has gotten a bad rap. Most of the articles you read about being busy address the issue of being busy from this standpoint. (But, I also think that we are getting mixed and conflicting messages all of the time from society and the media on this and many other topics. That will be the subject of an upcoming blog.) I wholeheartedly agree that we need to examine this possibility in our lives and strive for balance when we see that things have gotten out of whack. We also need to intentionally build some margin or breathing room in our schedules to allow for “life” to happen and prevent potential burn-out. But, our busyness is our business. Only we know when that’s happening, and only we know how to remedy it.

We must be mindful of what we say and how we say it. When we busy shame somebody, there is nowhere to go. It can be hurtful, polarizing, manipulative, and result in degradation of the relationship. Busy shaming is counterproductive. It shuts people down and closes doors. It is a form of bullying and we need to be aware of the times that we do it. There is no grace, there is no compassion, there is no understanding. And, that’s simply not how healthy relationships work.

There are people in my life who just “get it”. They too have full lives, and we have a mutual understanding. We make time when we can, but when schedules get crazy, we don’t take it personally. We hold space and know that when things clear, we will reconnect. And when we do, we share all of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things we have been up to. It is welcomed and refreshing. And, it is so appreciated.

Grace, compassion, kindness always go along way. And, certainly the golden rule applies in every circumstance we find ourselves in.

Rather than shaming and shutting people down, what if we understood? What if we held space? If we are worried about them being out of balance, what if we asked questions and even offered help from a space of love and concern? What if we didn’t give up on friendships because people have full lives or are dealing with circumstances that make them unavailable for stretches of time? What if we extended some grace and applied the golden rule?

So “busy shamers”, I invite you to choose a different way…or back off.