Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Stop. Right. There.
Bring to mind something that evoked a feeling of gratitude in you today. Was it your breakfast? Your pet? Your partner?
Now bring to mind something that struck a painful nerve, a nerve of distress. What caused that pain? What feelings are associated with that pain? Are they feelings of anxiousness? Feelings of stress? Feelings of regret?
Now go back to the feeling of gratitude.
WHAT IS DEMANDING YOUR ATTENTION?
There is something powerful about slowing down how we experience, perceive, and conceptualize our lives. I’ve heard it stated time and time again that a majority of our conscious awareness in today’s modern society is dominated by external content demanding our attention and interaction.
“A majority of our conscious awareness in today’s modern society is dominated by external content demanding our attention and interaction.”
This external content comes in many forms such as social media, news, T.V. shows, demands of work, demands of our families, our phones and any other content that may be coming to mind for you right now. My goal is not to assert how bad these things are for you or our society. Rather, my goal is to help shine light on what might happen when this external content becomes the only content we are consciously aware of.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
What might happen when this external content becomes the only content we are consciously aware of? Why is this important? What is the big deal?
What happens is that we become unaware of our internal content – the content which is the agent of movement and behavior in our life. When we lose awareness of our internal content, which are the core reactions and beliefs shaped by the external content, we lose awareness and agency of how to manage those reactions and core beliefs in effective ways. “we lose awareness and agency of how to manage those reactions and core beliefs in effective ways”
“we lose awareness and agency of how to manage those reactions and core beliefs in effective ways”
Most of us know what it is like to post something on social media. Whether we admit it or not, we often become preoccupied with what others may be thinking about what we posted, so we keep a weather eye on our notifications for a “like” or a comment. When others react positively, it feels so good that we keep watching out for more as we frequently and impulsively check our notifications, continue posting more content, or both.
This is where we need to slow down and really take a look at what is happening here.
Our brain has associated the social acceptance of a “like” or a comment as a pleasurable experience that validates our value and acceptance in the community. Next time we feel awkward walking by ourselves, or standing alone in line at a coffee shop, our brain knows how to quell those uncomfortable feelings – notifications. Next time we get in an argument with our partner or friend and our security (or acceptance) in the relationship (or community) feels threatened, our brain knows exactly how to put that fear and discomfort to rest – social media, where there is a good chance we can get almost instant gratification through those little red notifications.
By immediately going to social media or any other form of distractions (email, porn, news, etc.) we are cutting off our awareness of the internal pain and discomfort we are feeling. Here is where the big issue lies – the more we cut off awareness of our internal pain and discomfort, the more we cut off our ability to regulate these emotions in effective ways. “the more we cut off awareness of our internal pain and discomfort, the more we cut off our ability to regulate these emotions in effective ways”
“the more we cut off awareness of our internal pain and discomfort, the more we cut off our ability to regulate these emotions in effective ways”
THE WAY OUT
This pain and discomfort is valuable information which can be used to help us know ourselves more, and establish stronger, more intimate relationships if we venture to let the right people into that pain and discomfort.
To tie all of this up, I will leave you with a simple practice to employ this week.
Next time you go to check your phone or other device out of impulse, slow down, pause for just a moment, and ask yourself, “Why am I choosing to do this right now?” Try to identify what you are feeling, and the emotion attached to that feeling. See if you can’t get to know yourself, and therefore help others know you, more fully and more intimately.
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