I don’t know about you, but I struggle with spending more time than I want on my smartphone. I am seeing more and more how our smartphones are becoming creativity and productivity killers. They’re amazing devices that make our lives easier in so many ways, but there is the dark side of them too… when we get sucked into the Distraction Vortex that is our phone — YouTube videos, social sites, Wikipedia articles, games, 24/7 news outlets, etc. My video shows you how to cultivate a new relationship with your smartphone and provides you with 6 Strategies for better managing your smartphone time.
Now it’s time to explore the third of the 3 Purpose Blocks. Purpose Block #3 is The Distraction Vortex.
In our modern, media-saturated and technology-driven culture we have a never-ending list of things we can do in our daily lives to keep us busy and our schedules extremely full.
The daily choices are mind-boggling … TV shows, books, internet surfing, sports, phone calls, porn, email, movies, hobbies — and on and on and on. And all of this is in addition to our daily work (that hopefully pays the bills).
All these possible activities make up the Distraction Vortex: a swirling pool of constant and seemingly endless things TO DO … that can suck up all of our precious time.
None of these activities, in and of themselves, are inherently “good” or “bad.” However, if we are spending much of our time in the Distraction Vortex — there is a good chance that we are also distracting ourselves from what we might want most in our lives: deeper connection, greater joy, more meaning, and a clearer sense of purpose.
And because the journey into these states can be more subtle and unclear, it’s frankly easier and likely more soothing to numb-out or check-out with a juicy distraction like a TV show, a series of YouTube videos, or a trashy novel.
The challenge and question is, “How do I consciously navigate this Distraction Vortex, so it doesn’t suck up all of my time — and instead frees up my time for focusing on living more fully into my purpose?”
Here are three steps you can take to help set you free from the Distraction Vortex.
1. Slow Down and Observe Your Activity
The first step is to use whatever stillness practice you have, like meditation or mindfulness, to slow yourself down each day (and if you don’t have one, then start one), and begin to observe what pulls your attention toward what you would consider unhealthy distractions.
Then take on a one week “distraction awareness practice” by tracking where you are spending your time in the activities that you consider distractions. This brings to conscious awareness what activities YOU use as distractions to not face something else in your life.
2. Notice What You’re Avoiding
The second step is to notice what you may be avoiding in your life that the distractions helps you not have to face. It is typically something you don’t want to look at, and which makes you uncomfortable… something that you struggle with in your life.
Being more conscious of the activity, feeling or the energy that you’re avoiding helps to burst the bubble on your distraction patterns. Now you have the awareness to make a new choice about whether to engage the specific distractions or not.
3. Recommit with Support
As you see more clearly how your particular distractions don’t serve you, you can now recommit yourself to the actions and activities that truly support and serve you — your own growth and your purpose.
By declaring your commitment to the activities that feed your passions and purpose to another person close to you helps you stay accountable to not slipping back into the unhealthy distractions. This support is key to breaking out of the Distraction Vortex.
As we move further along our purpose journey path we’re likely to run into the second purpose block: The Doubting Voice.
This Doubting Voice inside you might sound like this:
- Do you really think you can live your purpose — what about making enough money for the family?
- It sounds too risky to shift careers now… why would you want to do that?
- Where will you get the support to take on this new project?
- What happens if it doesn’t work out?
- Do you think you have the talent to write your book, it’s really difficult…
Essentially, this inner voice is that part of our thought pattern that is negatively questioning everything we say or do.
And the problem is that when your Doubting Voice collides with your Calling, your unfolding purpose, then it wants to find all the ways to keep you from going to the “unknown edge” — to the places that you’ll have to extend yourself, to risk, and to grow in likely uncomfortable ways.
The Doubting Voice’s mission is to eliminate risk, keep things the “safe”, and to NOT be uncomfortable. This obviously puts you at odds with yourself at times, and why it is a core block to living your purpose.
So, how do we work with and neutralize our Doubting Voice?
I have found that the best way to work with the Doubting Voice is to make friends with it.
I know, easier said than done. But here’s my process of be-friending, or said another way, integrating my inner Doubter.
Start with naming the Doubting Voice in you. You might call it: Doubting Dude, or Cantankerous Cathy, or simply Mr. Doubter. What this does is twofold:
Brings lightness and humor to that part of ourselves that is pretty heavy and a limiter to our full, authentic expression
Allows the witnessing part of yourself to arrive so you can see the bigger perspective beyond your fearful, doubting ego-mind thoughts/voices.
Then it’s time to have a brief dialogue with your Doubter. It flows like this:
“Mr. Doubter, do you have some true wisdom for me that I should know about?” Here you’re investigating for important information that might be in the doubting voice. A grain of truth that you feel may be important to the issue at hand. Listen to what comes back.
Then say to yourself: “Thank you for sharing. I don’t need you at this time. I’m now going to make room for a choice that is for my highest good – my empowered choice.”
And now there is space for you to make a new choice toward your purpose, toward that which brings you more alive.
The challenge I see constantly with people who want clarity of purpose, or want to bring more energy or focus to it, is that there’s at least one BIG block (if not several) in their life that’s keeping them from being fully engaged and lit up by their purpose.
I’d like to share with you the top 3 Purpose Blocks that I’ve discovered through the purpose work I’ve done with hundreds of people over the years; and then how to move through these blocks. Today I’ll focus on Purpose Block #1.
Here are the 3 Purpose Blocks:
- The Fear Triad
- The Doubting Voice
- The Distraction Vortex
Purpose Block #1 is the Fear Triad. I have consistently found three specific fears that people face when diving into discovering their purpose, OR when they are trying to put the vision of their purpose into action in the world.
The three core purpose fears are:
- Fear of Survival (mostly financial)
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Ridicule
The survival instinct is deeply rooted in our old brain, the reptilian brain, and is now, in our modern culture, mostly connected with our financial resources.
So the Fear of Survival unfolds like this: If you choose to go after your purpose, living it fully, then it may drain ALL your resources and/or not be sustainable in the future, and you won’t “make it” — you won’t survive.
You won’t be able to pay the bills and feed your family. So, it’s just easier to avoid the question about purpose altogether than to face the possibility that you might not survive by living the “fantasy” of your purpose.
The Fear of Failure inside our purpose exploration can become more pronounced because the call of our purpose may stretch us into unknown areas, or test us with new approaches or concepts.
It may unfold like this: If you go for what you really want, your purpose, and fail; then you’ve failed on the really BIG one in life — living your purpose.” This would not just be failing on a project or a task, but may have the sense of a “whole-person failure” — the message being: “I am a failure in my life.”
The Fear of Ridicule unfolds like this: if your purpose is calling you to do something different in your life, to take on a new vision for your life with a new set of actions, you may find yourself misunderstood by family, friends, colleagues and maybe even your partner.
This exposes you to people’s reactions, their own fear and their ridicule. The fear may arise that you’ll be laughed, belittled or rejected because your ideas seem non-conventional or simply strange to others.
So, here is the 3-step flow of how to work with these natural fears in the Fear Triad:
> Awareness of the Fear
Notice and acknowledge the fear. It is important to pause yourself and take a deeper look inside at what these fears are for you. Name them in your OWN way and in your words. Bringing them out of the shadow and into the light of your conscious mind is the first step.
> Allow and Embrace
Once you are aware of your unique flavor of the fear, then you’re ready to embrace this fear as simply a part of you and a mechanism that your ego-mind uses to keep you safe.
This means accepting the fear with self-compassion and seeing it as a natural part of your growth and evolution as a human being. It’s important for you to watch your tendency to push the fear away, to deny it or pretend it’s not there.
> Open to a New Choice
As you allow and embrace your fear, it begins to lose its hold and power over you. It may still be there, but it’s been seen, named and embraced. So, now it’s time to make a new choice that supports your highest growth and calling in the moment.
What you thought was just not possible before because of one of these fears, now may seem possible. Make a NEW choice that serves you and your passionate, creative expression.