As I sat down to write just now, I was completely distracted by so many noises: my computer fan turned on and sounded more like a car motor than a laptop, the central heat in my house was rumbling along, a motorcycle zoomed by outside, the cats were crying outside my office door… I seriously wondered how I would be able to accomplish anything.
And then, miraculously, all of the noises stopped at exactly the same time. Complete quiet. Complete stillness. All that I hear right now is the sound of my fingers hitting the keys to create the words that you are now reading.
I should be happy, right? I wished for silence, and that wish was granted. So why am I feeling so unsettled now? Why do I want to quickly open up Facebook just to see if someone (anyone!) has posted a new status update? Why am I suddenly fighting the urge to watch cute kitten videos on YouTube? Why am I praying that my inbox will notify me of a new message?
Because now it is just me and my thoughts.
There are absolutely no distractions to pull me away from them. And I am realizing in this very moment how very scary being alone in my office with just my thoughts can be. I am no longer able to run away from the gut-wrenching questions that tend to keep me from sleeping soundly at night or being at peace during the day. Will my writing be good enough? Am I good enough? Will it matter? Will I matter?
The allure of distractions
We are all experts at putting up distractions so that we will rarely (if ever) have to face this uncomfortable feeling that I am facing right now. There is something so real and so vulnerable about simply being, isn’t there? It’s like standing in the middle of a crowded room completely naked – how many of us have had nightmares about this one? But seriously, without the distractions of TV, internet, phones, games, our job, the outside world – there’s no buffer between us and the questions we try so hard to avoid:
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- Why am I wasting time working at this job that doesn’t feed my soul?
- Why do I slave away on these projects each and every day only to bring home a check that is far less than what I deserve?
- Why am I still hanging around friends who don’t feed my soul or make me laugh or fill me up in any way?
- Why can’t I look at myself in the mirror without picking apart all of the parts that I can’t stand?
- Why haven’t I confronted my mom about how hurt I am that she always forgets to return my calls?
- Why can’t I seem to stay in a loving relationship and be happy there?
- Why do I always have to have one foot out the door looking for something better? Why am I so unhappy?
- Why is this the way my life turned out? Why am I always tired? Why have I gained so much weight?
- Why haven’t I really given my art a go and seen if I could make a living with it?
- Why haven’t I stepped up and put in my resignation at work?
- Why haven’t I been brave enough to take the leap and start living my dreams?
Well, no wonder we wouldn’t want to eliminate our distractions – who wants to be bombarded with all of these thoughts and pressures and demands? In many ways, it’s much easier to keep plugging along with our distractions firmly in place, so we never have to address what’s lurking just under the surface.
The happiness ceiling
However, by not allowing ourselves to examine what’s underneath our distractions, we have created a happiness ceiling that we can’t rise above. So we could have a great job, a ton of money, all of the latest gadgets, and externally seem to have everything going really great – but if we are suffering inside and never taking the time to answer the questions that our souls are urging us to examine, we’ll only be able to reach a certain level of fulfillment.
We all want to be happy, but are we all willing to do what it takes to get there? Are we willing to push our distractions aside and create the stillness necessary to be alone with our thoughts and really listen to our soul’s urgings? If so, we can start by simply acknowledging these whispers.
Sit with them and listen to them without judgment. Write them down and pay attention to those thoughts that carry weight – that resonate within our souls – that elicit strong emotion. For example, if one of your whispers is telling you to leave your job, take some time to examine whether this carries weight:
- How does thinking about leaving your job make you feel?
- Are you staying in it because you are afraid of leaving?
- What is your job keeping you from pursuing?
- How is it distracting you from living your ideal life?
Once you have answered these questions (and any others that you come up with on your own), you’ll have a much clearer idea of which direction to go in. And then you can begin making changes to turn these whispers into fully integrated parts of your consciousness – and your life!
Let’s be brave enough to examine what’s really underneath all of the distractions that we have created in our lives. When we begin to address them one by one, we create space in our lives for our authentic selves to shine. We start to feel lighter. The happiness that starts to seep into our bodies is a lasting one, not a fleeting one that our distractions bring.
On a personal note, I’m proud of myself for sticking with this article and not allowing myself to check Facebook or YouTube while writing it. I simply wrote through my inner urges to distract myself, which is something that makes me happy. So find some time today to sit in silence and see what comes up for you. I think you’ll find that if you eliminate your own distractions and listen to your soul, a true happiness will begin to emerge. And who wouldn’t be happy about that?
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