All instruments of excess are distractions

There is an inverse relationship between pain and preoccupation. 

The more we hurt, the more we will compulsively pursue distractions. 

And not minor manual distractions like eating, picking our noses, playing with our phones and biting our nails. 

But real emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial distractions that have significant consequences. 

The scary part is, when trapped in the briars of our obsessions and addictions, we don’t realize just how far down the rabbit hole we have fallen. 

My unproductive obsessions have often revolved around shopping. Embarking on some compulsive campaign to marginally improve the quality of my life through a series of consumer purchases. 

It works wonders for avoiding feelings. After all, why confront your loneliness and sadness when you can spend five days on a fruitless internet search for the perfect moisture wicking undershirt? Have you ever felt stretch bamboo viscose on your skin before? Fifty dollars a piece is a steal! 

From the outside looking in, this is clearly not a valuable endeavor worth pursuing. It does nothing to further my goals and dreams. It’s just constant obsession in the service of paranoia. 

The question, then, is how do we create a filter to navigate the balance between pain and preoccupation? 

Maisel’s transformative book on the art and science of brainstorming posed an interesting question that was a great help to me. We ask ourselves, or invite someone we love to ask us:

Is this a forward looking endeavor that points to the future and give us energy and power, or is it an unproductive obsession that leaves us feeling incompetent and exhausted? 

In short, do we have purpose, or just a distraction? 

And if the answer is the latter, that is okay. As long as we name it, tame it a reframe it, we can minimize the damage and address our underlying pain. 

Remember, the ceaseless inflow of distractions that bid for our time, attention, and emotional involvement are far greater than texting and nail biting. 

The call is almost always coming from inside the house.


Have you learned how to extinguish the fire of emotional distraction? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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