Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Distraction

Caramel yearning for the outdoors!


I want to take a moment and discuss the skill of distraction.

How do you know when you should use the distraction skill?

What are the benefits of distraction?

What are some good ideas to use as distraction?

When has distraction moved into the space of avoidance?

These are excellent questions that I have heard and at times asked myself.

Distraction is a highly useful tool when your are off of baseline and getting back seems to not be an option. There are a host of skills that we use when we are sent of baseline. Being mindful about when this happens we would take a look in our tool box and usually attempt some skill that can set us back on track, like body sensations, or positive self talk.

There are times though that we are off baseline and the cause or trigger of it has no end in reasonable sight. This is a good indication that you may have to dig in for the long haul and in order to not make things worse, distraction is a good skills choice to "endure."

Distraction is beneficial because it allows you to experience the moment you are in, without damaging your mental health more. I know it sounds crazy, there are not many times that being a distressing situation doesn't cause more harm.

In the case of distraction though, it is like you are hitting the pause button on life. The distraction can work for a moment, for hours or even longer if the real-need should arise.I do make a note, it is necessary that the need be a real one, not an imagined one. We are good at convincing ourselves of things, in this case if we were to convince ourselves that we require long-term distraction when in reality we do not need it that long, we would only be feeding into the pitfall of avoidance.

Avoidance is easy. Boy, do most of us know that one. We hurt, we suffer, it stinks, we avoid it. It is basic self-preservation laws at work. Sadly, avoidance only hurts, it does not help. Ever.

Conversely, distraction (for an appropriate time) does work. So what works?

Depending on the length of the need of course: Arts and crafts, movies, baths, candle burning, reading, or new hobbies are excellent distraction choices. Be aware: calling up a friend and "venting" is not considered distraction. Why? Because, you are not taking the distressing issue and pausing it. Even if you "feel" better in a moment after venting, it is not considered distraction.

Sometimes, venting may only be what you need for a particular distressing issue. At times, just getting the frustration "off your chest" will help. But what we are talking about right now is distraction. So the level of distress that motivates you to distract is not going to be a level of distress that "venting" will help. I hope that makes sense.

When the distressing moment that we are trying to endure is something that will pass maybe with a night's sleep, a movie, bath and bedtime might be good distraction choices. When our distressing time is longer than that, or over a course of a long period- periodically, it may be a good idea to pick up a new hobby or interest.

My personal situation is this broken ankle and while every moment is not distressing, at least daily I have struggles that are quite distressing and I cannot do a single thing about them. I cannot take a walk or get some shopping done. I cannot go for coffee with a friend or in any way of my own volition accomplish something. Anything and everything I do is dependent on someone else to assist in getting it done. Period.

Add that inability to be independent to a distressing situation, like a conflict, I start to feel trapped and small. I cannot even use the bathroom without assistance, so I feel like my dignity has been stripped away from me, I am 100% dependent on someone else for everything, including eating. Short of scooting on my bum across the floor and out to where the wheelchair is located, I feel essentially trapped.

It feels like being trapped because, while I could scoot along the floor to the wheelchair "on my own", I cannot use the restroom alone, I cannot get foods out of wheelchair reach and insisting on doing it "myself" is only adding danger to a quick recovery. I am risking re-injuring myself and making this take longer than it is already going to take. So weighing the lesser of the evils, I am faced with this conclusion:

I will have distressing moments over the course of the next 3 months that I will have to find a way to endure. Once I get my walking cast, I will have different options. Granted, during the 3 months I will most likely gain certain freedoms back, like using the bathroom unassisted. So in the mean time, I have to make due with what I have now and know that there will be distressing times throughout. During those distressing times it is up to me to not fall down the rabbits hole into depression, so I plan on using distraction skills to endure or "pause" until I can get to a better place and be more equipped to deal with the distress.

I have been loving watching my animals outside my window! The neighborhood squirrels figured out about my newly arranged goodies for them and they have been getting peanuts like mad over the last hour.


I have chosen more items to read than I typically have and I intend to use that to distract at times. I have chosen a series on Netflix I would like to watch through, so that should help at times to distract and then, another thing I am doing is paying closer attention to a hobby I have been interested in for quite some time: 

Statement Analysis

The idea that what we say can be analyzed to detect deception or veracity is fascinating to me. I follow this blog regarding Statement Analysis, and while there are many that refute the idea that Statement Analysis can be quite accurate, I encourage everyone to look it over and come to their own conclusion. Often times I have found the ones complaining the loudest that Statement Analysis doesn't work are the ones that have been called out on deception. 

At any rate, this is something I find will work great to use as a distraction skill is to learn more about how to do Statement Analysis myself, I certainly have the time! 

Thanks for reading today and I would love to hear from anyone about what they use for distraction and how successful or otherwise you have found it!

~MJ