This year has unfolded more challenges than one could have anticipated in a lifetime much less than in 366 days. Even the typical go-to diversions, which were part of everyday life, have been upended. Some people have become quite inventive devising new kinds of distractions to fend off the doldrums and monotonies brought on by the culmination of every ordeal this year has disclosed.
Part of being human is having the ability to adapt and innovate our way through difficult times, and distractions have frequently assisted us in relieving stresses and maintaining some semblance of sanity through extremely taxing events. Unfortunately, in the struggle to minimize the current pandemic, most of the usual distractions are no longer available and have all but been eliminated. If there is one thing most of us could certainly use, it would be a positive distraction to help weather these stressful times.
Distractions have been shown in scientific studies to have positive effects on humans. They shift our focus away from difficult situations and help us manage daily struggles. These last eight months have forced us to find new distractions which mainly occur by ourselves or those with whom we are quarantined.
Admittedly, I have experienced a new distraction which a year ago, I would have never dreamed I’d be utilizing. Each day, I spend time in my backyard simply sitting, contemplating, and leaving everything else behind. I have the added gratification of being joined by my cats who like me, take great pleasure in these brief moments. I watch them roll on the ground or eat from the small patch of cat-friendly grass planted specifically for them. Being with them completely distracts me from my daily demands as we all enjoy this time together. It’s meditative and something which allows me to exist solely in that moment.
As much as I would love spending hours valuing this time, life does not afford me this indulgence. I have to plan distractions wisely or they will create other detrimental effects. I need to discern positive distractions from those which entangle, bewilder, or deter me from achieving what must be done.
The word distraction has an almost negative-sounding connotation. It’s as though something is in our path or some other hazard hindering us from the task at hand. Although their positive outcomes are in high demand, it is vital we be on guard for the times when they most definitely can become a hinderance.
The obvious distractions are easy to detect. Most of us have been in situations where we clamored for a diversion and for whatever reason, willingly succumbed to the first one which crossed our paths, knowing full well we should not have surrendered to its lure. These are evident and no one needs to point them out for us.
However, many distractions disguise themselves as beneficial, helpful, or effective, making them more difficult to detect. They conceal themselves in a cloak of benevolence confusing and confounding those who truly have their best intensions at heart.
Perhaps one of the most common distractions eluding many is our job. It is ironic that we typically seek distractions from work, but many get caught in this covert trap. How it becomes a distraction is when our work consumes us to the point of neglecting other issues of personal development in our lives which urgently need our attention.
It often occurs in troubled relationships. Rather than facing something which exposes a shortcoming or character flaw, one of the partners directs their attention to work. It’s as though the increased productivity will silence the current difficulties because in no way should their efforts be interpreted as detrimental behavior. But no matter how much they believe their endeavors are helping, it has little to no chance of improving the relationship.
Still more concealed are situations when there is no hint of selfish behavior and the only goal is to help or protect others. This predicament is more prevalent in relationships which have an unequal aspect to it. An example of this would be employee/employer or parent/child type of relationship.
A good parent will do almost anything to help, advance, or protect their children. Many would not hesitate to give their lives to rescue their child. But parents can be susceptible to being distracted by helping their child while neglecting their own personal issues. Just as the person who focused on work was distracted from the relationship, a parent may be averting their own issues by assuming that coming to their child’s aid will substitute or be better than addressing their own personal concerns.
It is not my intent to insist all those who work hard are being distracted, nor is there any implication if you are willing to sacrifice your life for your child you are in reality distracting yourself. I am suggesting we be aware and alert for these distractions which can unknowingly keep us from becoming a better version of ourselves and constructively impacting those around us.
Part of my counseling focuses on this aspect of distractions since this area of personal development can easily and discreetly elude us. It demands we take an open and honest look at ourselves because this process will likely shed light on some distressing aspects of who we are. Thankfully, this kind of awareness eventually nourishes the soul rather than making us feel ashamed.
Sometimes, a close friend can help expose these vulnerabilities. Always keep in mind this kind of discourse is meant to strengthen a relationship and is not be a cause for criticism or condemnation.
Becoming mindful of these distractions helps us live a more compassionate and purpose-filled life. Although it takes great determination to find them, they are certainly distractions in our lives we can live without.
My thanks to Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments. If you would like more information on helping you uncover distractions in your life, feel free to contact me through this website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org