This is Making You Sick! And you don’t even know it…
Take a guess…
Work? Education? TV? Movies? Music? Food? Dining Out? Reading? Hobbies? Exercise? Sorry, trick question. The correct answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE.
That is if you, like many, are using them as distractions.
Distraction, as a coping mechanism, is about as American as apple pie. We see it all the time. You have a bad day at school; your mom makes cookies. You have a bad day at work; you go out to dinner. You have a fight with someone you love; you go to a movie. You have a miserable marriage; you bury yourself in your kids, exercise, educational pursuits, or new hobbies. And the purpose of these distractions? TO TAKE YOUR MIND OFF YOUR PROBLEM.
Distraction is taught as a coping mechanism everywhere, parent-to-child, teacher-to-child, therapist-to-client, friend-to-friend, advertiser-to-consumer.
It’s what we know. How often is a child told to think about something else to avoid feeling sad? How often is a woman, struggling with empty nesting, told to get a new hobby, join a book club, or find a volunteer opportunity? How often do marketers encourage us to eat, drink, travel, or otherwise treat ourselves in some way after highlighting our fears and insecurities? Do you know why they do that? It works. We are practically hard-wired for distraction.
And distraction is to your emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies what cholesterol plaques are to your arteries. They constrict the flow of your life force, making you sluggish and sick.
As I wrote in Release the Symptoms. Free Yourself,
“Modern life and American culture value doing through distraction and bulldog determination. Goals are achieved through burying your emotions and putting your nose to the grindstone. Believe me, I know! Most, if not all, physicians have done just that to get through medical school. Unfortunately, it’s not sustainable.”
Emotions are processed by the limbic system, also known as the mid-brain. When emotions are extreme, the thinking part of the brain goes entirely offline. What does this mean for us? When we have surpassed our ability to cope with a situation, due to fear, anger, sadness, or overwhelm, our limbic system will react, rather than respond, firing off an old behavioral pattern.
Typically, it goes like this: A situation triggers fear, anger, or an extreme emotion. We react, meaning we do not choose to respond, but rather, the reaction takes over us. We lose control, then feel embarrassed or bad after. Now listen carefully here. Unprocessed emotions are stored in the body, creating and reinforcing those neural pathways.
So, all that distraction to avoid feeling sad, to avoid feeling hurt, to avoid feeling scared is merely a short-term fix.
Those unprocessed emotions are stored in the body to be dealt with later. And how do they present themselves? As physical and emotional symptoms, and after long enough, as disease.
I’ll freely admit, I was once the master of distraction. I have three medical board certifications, five kids, numerous alternative wellness and coaching certifications, and, at one time, did extensive volunteer work. Something was going wrong? I chaired a new committee, got a new certification, or took up a new hobby. If you’ve read my story, you know how that worked out for me physically.
I have to say, avoiding distraction and choosing to be in the present moment is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I feel sad? I cry. I feel scared? I am present with and soothe that part of me that is afraid. I feel angry or hurt? I speak my truth from a place of love.
What are your favorite distractions? What are you distracting yourself from? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!