An unspoken judgment wafted through the rear corridors of my mind every time I heard the word. People kept talking about seeking “distractions”. Meanwhile, I tried to avoid them.
I’ve long seen distractions as something that derail me from my path. The phone call that turns the broiling garlic bread to black char. The rabbit hole of the web as I procrastinate starting this week’s blog. The half package of Girl Scout Thin Mints that takes me away from a good cry.
Distractions can interfere with our goals, the precious present moment, and from what we don’t want to see. Too often in a rush, distractions only seemed to slow me down. I didn’t need distractions, I thought. Until I did.
Like most in the Midwest, many hours each day in the month of March were focused on the virus. Every day has been filled with checking in with loved ones, tackling technology challenges, and navigating self-quarantine while staying informed about the constantly changing coronavirus climate.
Who wouldn’t want a distraction?
Distraction is a useful tool for temporarily taking one’s attention away from extreme anxiety. We all have our own worries. My son in hot spot Brooklyn in the close quarters of a co-living space. My stepdaughter in an intensive care unit with an infection. My 70-year-old brother returning from international flights with a cough and fever.
Distraction gives time for the worry to subside. Distraction gives us a break. But distraction is temporary. Eventually, I have to face that which I am seeking to be distracted from.
I may need a break from technology tensions, yet I still need to take time to get those passwords reset. I may listen to my favorite playlist to ease my mind, and I still need to plan my budget.
Even our diversions need not take us away from our intentions but rather move us toward them:
I rejuvenate by researching healthy recipes…to be physically well
I meditate…to be spiritually developing
I play backgammon…to be a loving partner
Deciding my distractions in advance definitely makes it easier. Having them in writing means I can pick the one that’s right for the moment. Distractions action me closer to my most deeply held intentions rather than away from them.
When my focus is failing or my energy is dropping, I can appreciate my distractions. It’s time for setting aside our old beliefs and for using every tool we’ve got.
What intentions are guiding you right now?
What are your best distractions?
Do you have a judgment or belief it’s time to set aside?