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Addicted to Distraction

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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Is there something you really need to do, yet somehow you just can't seem to get to it? You tell yourself you're going to do it but them something else always gets in the way. If so, it's likely that you are addicted to distraction.

Here are 4 questions I want you to ask yourself:

  1. How many times a day do you check or initiate e-mails and text messages?
  2. How often do you check out compelling headlines on your digital devices?
  3. How much time do you spend game playing?
  4. How much time do you spend on social media?

If you’re thinking, yup, that’s me, I’m always drawn to the Internet, to social media and to my favorite apps, you certainly are not alone. But do you recognize how your diversions may be affecting the quality of your life? And even changing the way your brain functions?

It’s not only substances that can be addicting; it’s activities as well. If an activity compulsively pulls you toward it to the extent that you shirk responsibilities, fail to finish projects, neglect your relationships and more, consider yourself addicted to distraction.

Indeed, it’s tough in the digital age not to be addicted. With endless access to alluring headlines and pleasurable pursuits, attention is easily fragmented. And before you know it, your brain is craving novelty and immediate gratification.

With so many seductive distractions, it’s tough to maintain a balanced life in the digital age. But, if you really want to, you can break the pattern. In fact, you need to break the pattern. The consequences of not doing so can become increasingly severe as time goes on:

  • You talk your way into a dream job - only to be let go when they become aware of your less than sterling work habits.
  • You might have every intention of revising your resume, only you haven’t found the time to do so. And so you stay stuck in a boring dead-end job.
  • You want to feel closer to your spouse, only you never find the time to address the conflicts. Now the relationship is in jeopardy.
  • Your kids want to be with you, you want to be with them, but somehow, the phone is a constant third party interfering with your face-to-face contact.

So what should you do to gain control over your addiction? Here are 4 suggestions:

  1. Admit the problem. As I’m sure you already know, denial is the typical response of the addicted. Either total denial or rationalizing your behavior (i.e. I only keep checking my phone because….). So stop…be honest with yourself.
  2. Seek to maintain balance in your life. Be aware that when you spend a lot of time on one activity, you have less time for other activities. This imbalance can lead to consequences you do not desire.
  3. Make a daily commitment to tend to tasks that you’ve been neglecting. Notice how such things get easier to do as time goes on.
  4. You don’t have to feel like doing something to do it. There’s a difference between feeling good for the moment (I gotta post these photos on Facebook) and feeling good about yourself (Yeah! I’m conquering my addiction!)

"You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." ~ Winston Churchill

Copyright © 2015: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.
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