An audio version of this blog post is available here: https://jokoepke.substack.com/
Does anyone else battle with distraction addiction? Or is it just me? So often I realise at the end of the day that precious hours have been sucked away by distraction. The frustration at myself builds and I try many strategies to deal with this, with varying degrees of success.
It’s easy to blame my phone and technology. I have admitted my phone addiction before and even speak on overcoming it for groups, such as MOPS. Phones and technology are certainly designed to be addictive and distract us from other things we could be choosing to do. They need careful boundaries to manage. I have recently switched from a phone time tracking app that allowed me to quit out of the block if I wanted. I now use a paid option that doesn’t have that option. It is inconvenient at times but it has made me carefully analyse exactly what I NEED to access and when. I have tried to set limits on my social media scrolling before. Now the app will shut them down when I’ve hit that limit. Setting these firm boundaries has been so helpful and yet the distraction addiction continues.
It amazes me what my brain can latch on to for distraction- a novel I’m reading, researching an app or business strategy, watching training videos, emails and the list goes on. These are all good things but in the wrong timing. They pull my attention away from the task I am supposed to be focusing on. Worse, they pull me away from being present with the people right in front of me. The cost of distraction is too high not to address it.
If the cost of distraction is so high and frustrating to me, why do I keep doing it? I started to discover the answers to that question by exploring the Enneagram and participating in an Ignite group through Lead Different. This is an ongoing journey of learning more about myself in order to lead myself well.
The Enneagram has gained significant popularity of late and you may have heard about this personality system. Most of us know just enough about it to be dangerous! I am certainly no expert but have found this to be the first way of exploring the complexities of personality that really resonated with me. The major drawcard for me was discovering the levels of health within each personality type that provide guideposts for growth and warning signs for when you are not in a healthy place. It was this discovery of my Type 9 personality and the numbing out tendency when we feel overwhelmed that opened my understanding of why I struggle to break free of distraction. I am trying to fight the symptom without dealing with the root cause.
There is a week in the Ignite group where you look at the concept of “rackets” in your life- those areas of continual annoyance that never seem to change. We look at how this behaviour or situation remains because of our own actions and commitment to hidden payoffs. These payoffs may include avoiding a task we don’t want to do or staying in a noble victim role. The hidden payoff of much of my distraction addiction behaviour is being able to numb out from the overwhelm and avoid the hard conversations or tasks.
I cannot change this entrenched behaviour of numbing out and avoidance overnight. Some days, honestly, it feels like an impossible challenge. This year I am choosing to keep taking steps towards change. ‘Pressing in over numbing out’ is included in my 2020 manifesto.
Pressing in may mean pressing past that initial pull to numbing out to realise what I am overwhelmed by or avoiding- even if I still choose to numb out at that moment. Awareness and acknowledgement are significant tools in the growth process. Pressing in may mean acknowledging the desire for distraction and choosing to do the hard thing anyway, scheduling restoring downtime for afterwards. Pressing in means drawing closer in my relationship with God to access His strength and peace to face the hard.
‘Pressing in over numbing out’ is the mantra I am digging into to make changes in my distraction addiction. Maybe it is the phrase you need too?