Frustrating distractions acting like a security blanket


Hidden ways that you’re subconscious can distract you from doing what’s really important. Penny here. I’m back with another episode of Design Your Destiny. And a few weeks ago I mentioned that I would talk about distractions. Now, sometimes distractions are pretty obvious and other times they are not. But before I explain more about what these distractions can look like, I would like to share with you where they come from. Our brain is always processing information, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. Our mind is processing millions of bits of data per second. And there’s a part of our brain called the limbic system in the amygdala is a part of this network, or it’s connected to it. Your amygdala, as I’ve shared with you before, is a part of the brain. It’s the size of an almond sliver that determines our state of wellbeing. We’re safe and secure, or we are in danger. Something is pleasant or it’s not pleasant. A situation may be fair or unfair. It is this part of our brain that plays a major role in activating or sending a signal that results in the activation of the fight or flight response, which most people now know is the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response.

[00:02:41] When that response gets activated it can be on a continuum. It can be very mild feelings or for someone who experiences severe anxiety and panic attacks, it could feel like a full blown panic attack or a rage attack, right? Or a severe freeze response. So it’s on a continuum. It’s not black and white. There are many, many, many shades of gray of what this looks like. When we are going through our day and we’re not mindful of our body and what we’re feeling and what we’re thinking the amygdala can alert that there is something we are experiencing that is unpleasant. We could be anticipating a meeting with a boss, or we’re gonna be connecting with a family member that the last time we spoke, maybe it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. Maybe there’s absolutely nothing happening that we’re aware of, but the subconscious mind has picked up on something as simple as a change in the tone of conversation in a room and in the past that change, a tone and conversation preceded something that ended up being an unpleasant experience, or just maybe something that was unenjoyable. I think it’s very important that I highlight that, that it doesn’t have to be something awful or terrible to trigger this. It can just be something that’s not enjoyable, not pleasant.

[00:04:21] When our subconscious mind interprets something and puts meaning on it, and our conscious mind has not yet perceived it, the subconscious mind can generate this activation of fight or flight in our body. It then begins to perceive the changes in the body. Maybe our heart rate picks up a little bit, or we feel a little tense, whatever it is that may happen, and then the brain goes, oh, we don’t like when our body feels this way. So then we distract ourselves away. The subconscious mind goes, Oh, we’re really not gonna like this, so let’s keep this off of, i’ll just do this as if it was me, we will keep this off of Penny’s attention. So what might happen, say for instance, I had a call that I had to get on and I was not sure what the call was about. I’m not talking a sales call, but just, something that wasn’t planned, and I have to make this call and I’m curious what the person is wanting to connect with me about. In the part of my brain, maybe, Oh, we don’t want to think about this. We don’t like this. Let’s send Penny down the rabbit hole. And maybe there was productive work that I needed to do that’s focused, but now my brain is like, Oh, you know what? The other day I was thinking about this domain name. Let me look up this domain. and then I see that the domain name is available. It’s like, Oh, geez, I wonder if anybody’s ever written a book by this name. So I go down this rabbit hole of doing a bunch of stuff that is not productive. It is not helpful, but it is entertaining to me. Maybe it gives me a dopamine hit, but what it does is it takes my attention off of the unpleasant feelings building in my body because my subconscious mind is anticipating what this phone call might be about. I may not even be consciously thinking about it. 

[00:06:36] Okay. So maybe somebody messaged me says, Hey, we need to chat. Can you connect today? I say, Yes. They say, Good. Here’s a zoom link. we’re scheduled, and I forget about it, but my subconscious mind could be going, Oh my God, When you get called on and you don’t know what it’s about, this doesn’t feel safe. So it generates these feelings in the body. Now, some people,  when they distract, They may think they’re hungry. They can feel the feelings in their stomach and they mistake it for hunger, so they may eat. Some people may absentmindedly reach for a drink. Some people may smoke. Some people may shop. Some people may sex. Some people may work out a tremendous amount. They just feel this drive to work out. Now, those are more consistent behaviors. In terms of someone who may be driven to work out excessively all the time and that type of thing, but we can get distracted away from the way we’re feeling because our subconscious mind drives us in a different direction to keep us busy enough that we’re not aware of it.

[00:07:50] So procrastination, watching tv, keeping ourselves overly busy, scrolling on social media, those things can all be distractions. We can even fool ourselves into thinking that we’re being productive when we’re not being productive. Some people will sign up for course after course and learning becomes a distraction from doing the thing that makes them afraid. So, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this in your life, but one of the things that, for new entrepreneurs gets them stuck, is they get in this mode of learning, learning, learning, and they develop this false belief that they need to learn more, that they need to know more. Now, that can be attached to a lot of different things, but learning and repeatedly achieving from garnering more knowledge can create a dopamine hit, which is the opposite of the unpleasant feeling of like actually having to go out and book a client. I see it often in people who graduate from hypnosis training. They get caught in these cycles if they wanna learn more, more, more because it’s uncomfortable doing something new for the first time. And it’s interesting because when we’re younger, we don’t think too much about doing something new for the first time. But as we get older, we have more experiences in our life that can influence how we feel when it’s time to go out and do something new. And most people who train to be hypnotists tend to be in their forties or older. It tends to be a second career. Not always, but it tends to be. Of course, as it’s becoming more mainstream, that perception is probably skewed quite a bit. I’ll be the first to admit that. 

[00:09:55] But we can be very successful and when we go to pivot and do something new we have these feelings come up and we begin to get distracted by things and we’re like, wait, wait, wait a minute. Why did I just waste an hour or 30 minutes of very productive time, on a phone conversation that was like completely pointless than just chit chat when I could have had that conversation any other time than when I needed to be doing something productive like, Where did that come from? It can catch us off guard. So distractions can look like a lot of different things. These distractions come from the subconscious mind wanting to help us to avoid unpleasant feelings. However, what will happen is over time, if we continue in this pattern of distractions, we are going to see the consequences of that distraction begin to pile up and pile on. And then we’re gonna get frustrated because we’re like, “damn. You know, I used to be so focused and so productive in what the heck is going on? Like, I feel like I’m off my game. Like something’s not lining up for me right here.” So if you’re ever reaching a point that you’re frustrated, what you wanna do is go back to what was happening when the distracting behavior kicked in and says, What was happening that I felt like I needed to distract away from it. Like what was on my agenda, what was on my calendar, what needed to be done that I was avoiding, and what was it about that thing that it felt better to avoid it than to do it. Now you’re scratching at the surface. 

I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. I will see you next week.

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