Are you a human being or a human doing?

As we close an extremely difficult year and welcome a new one, it is a natural practice to reflect on the year that has passed. It is common to consider the things we have "done" throughout our year, our achievements, goals met, successes, etc. Consequently, this can sometimes lead to negative thoughts and feelings; perhaps thoughts of not "doing" enough, or feelings of low self-worth, feelings of not "being" enough. This leads me to question are we living as human beings or have we become human doings? 


In today's world, we are conditioned to always be doing. The capacity we live in is fast paced, with high levels of productivity and expectations. This coupled with the added conjecture of social media, we are often witness to the productivity and seemingly success of our peers, thus adding additional pressure fuelling our need to be "doing" more. That being said, it is common to get caught up in what we "should" be doing. However, do we ever pause to consider that as human beings? How would it feel to consider that perhaps the key to success isn't always about the doing, perhaps the key to success is simply the art of just being, just maybe achievement is in the feeling of contentment and ease with where we are in life right now? 

A limiting belief that many people carry is that rest is unproductive, that rest should be earned. It is also a common misconception that being stagnant in life is being unsuccessful, but what if, just for now, stagnation is ok? What if stagnation is contentment and you are exactly where you need to be at this moment. 

Let's work to reframe the need to “do” and appreciate the need to “be”, for that reason rather than ask yourself what you need to do today, ask yourself how you need to be, be present, consider your needs from an internal perspective.

Here are a few suggestions to help live more presently. 

1. Connect with nature

Take a walk or sit in a spot of natural beauty taking in the surroundings - observe what is around you, really tapping into each of your senses. Notice what you can see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does the ground feel below you? How are you experiencing your surroundings? How does your body feel right now? 

2. Detach from your electronics

Put the phone or laptop away, consider structured times to check correspondence or social media etc. Take time out daily from the digital world, perhaps consider a regular digital detox. It is recommended not to check social media one hour prior to bed or waking up.

3. Consciously observe your thoughts and feelings

Consider what messages your body is sending you, e.g. if you feel tired your body may be asking you to rest, really explore that feeling; how would exercise feel right now? Alternatively, how would it feel to sit down with a coffee or a book? Invite yourself to meet your needs. 

4. Reduce distractions

Most of us are never fully present as we are continually getting distracted or attempting to complete too many tasks at once, therefore - set time aside for each task. Make a list in priority order of what needs to be done. If a thought comes into your mind of another task to complete, do not stop your task to respond to the thought, simply add it to the list. 

So be present, live in the moment, be gentle with yourself, take time to just be, the moment, be you, you are “doing” enough.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Newtownabbey BT36 & BT37
Written by Ashleigh Duncan, Counsellor MBACP
Newtownabbey BT36 & BT37

Ashleigh Duncan Counsellor MBACP
Owner and founder of AD Counselling and Wellness, Newtownabbey.

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