This month I experienced a severe bout of Internet distraction. The flare-up lasted a couple of weeks…but it also indicated to me a long-term pattern deep within me that I am committed to get a handle on.
The frenetic US election and post-election fiasco caused vertigo within me of intrigue, hilarity, and folly, resulting in me checking the latest news and updates to what’s happening throughout the day and night.
Though I call myself a Lifestyle Mapper, and have this company Clear Simple Life, :), I’m by no means living perfect…in fact I know I have many deep blind-spots to expose light into myself.
But my glaring imperfections don’t define me. Rather, I am defined by my commitment to see through and work through everything within me, one at a time.
So here’s what I am more discovering, and what I can share with you.
On a logical level, I know (we all know) that checking the news more than once or twice a day, even in these unprecedented times, for most of us, indicates a level of concern with world events unhelpful and unhealthy for our well-being and those we serve. This compulsion fogs our mind and dampens our energy.
However, on an emotional, reactive level (which we operate on far more than we acknowledge), we feel this compelling drive to check and keep up-to-date with the events of the world a lot, especially during turbulent times.
The circus happening on the national stage is far too tragic, and far too engrossing, to be simply left alone by my mind. And media companies are far too happy to placate this insatiable craving for more news. That’s how they survive…or rather, thrive. They subtly nudge us to keep checking, keep staying up-to-date, keep handing over our mindshare and well-being to them.
But it’s not just news. I took a step back and looked at ALL distractions. This applies just as easily to media of various types, social media, gossip sites, hate sites, movies, TV, and p***. It also applies to a host of behaviors including alcohol, drugs, gossip, food/sugar, gambling, hate, violence. It can also manifest in excess sleep, work, study, or activity — there are many ways we distract ourselves.
Some of these vices are more socially stigmatized than others, sure. but they are all indicative of one thing in common. There’s a universal tendency at play.
What are we actually distracting ourselves from? What we’re distracting ourselves from is processing what we’re feeling in the moment.
This lack of ability to be with ourselves and see through how we currently feel represents itself as distraction in our activity, and as changing the subject in our conversations. It’s a self-loathing… and loathing of our humanity.
We’re loaded with so much on our shoulders it’s understandable why we would seek continuous emotional relief. Society itself is profoundly sick. It might have had us done some really terrible things: when our peers encourage us to self-destructive habits, our government sends us to take lives of others in war without emotional recompense, our authorities tell us to look the other way when causing injustice to groups of people.
Ugliness on this planet, and within our being, is so heavy. So much so that we conclude we do not want to be with ourselves and shut ourselves off from feeling our humanity. We seek to escape from dealing with the feelings. Through one of a number of escape routes.
Distraction due to self-loathing.
What’s the answer then?
Well, first off, we must be clear the answer isn’t some logic or rationalization.
The true resolution comes from a doubling down on what we already know — to commit to being with and feeling through what we’re feeling. It is to consistently make peace with ourselves as we are feeling. Real peace. Proactive peace. Challenging peace. Which comes from processing each and every emotion as it comes up within us through what many would call a meditative process.
There’s no other way through distractions but through the feelings we want to avoid than through the feelings themselves. But the beauty, even just a taste of the joy that comes FROM seeing through our feelings, can keep us anchored within.