I’ve been thinking about the power of distraction a lot lately – not the everyday type of distraction (the ‘ I need to distract myself in case I eat that cake’ type of distraction) – I mean the type of distraction that takes you off course for a long while. At the moment I’m feeling distracted because work has been slow and I’ve been trying to fill my time – I’ve fallen into the trap of pure distraction, flitting from one thing to another (usually email and social media) in a bid to be and feel busy. I’ve started to see that this type of distraction could easily just be another term for procrastination, it’s pretty much the same only instead of doing nothing I’m doing lots of something that leads to nothing.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that distraction is really really tiring, It’s like being on edge all the time. The constant flitting from one thing to another means that I find it hard to concentrate for any length of time on anything, I’m tired, my brain is tired, it’s a flitting brain that needs to stop.
However there is another side of this longer term distraction – where it works to keep us safe. I’ve had a couple of counselling clients recently who have been very distracted – both facing a bereavement and yet both finding so many other things to do and talk about – rather than thinking or talking about the deeper stuff. At first I found this frustrating, like we weren’t getting anywhere, but of course this is a core part of their coping, of surviving and physically being able to function. This has become a valuable and necessary use of distraction.
There is a time where distraction stops working, where the bigger picture takes over and we need to face up to what is and isn’t working anymore – the rock bottom of distraction. I don’t know how or when this happens – whether it’s self realisation or life just gets better again. The only thing I do know is that recognising the signs of long term distraction and asking why this is happening – is a very good question and a very difficult one to answer.