Here’s a list of things that you may want to let go:
- Favourite blogs & websites
- News websites (most of the time)
- YouTube (or other video sites, unless needed)
- Shopping, buying stuff
- Reading more than one book at a time
- Additional projects
- Checking phone often
- Checking email/messages more than 3x per day
- More than one or two tabs open (unless absolutely necessary)
- Reading while eating
- Extra clothes, books, equipment
- Needing to do something all the time
That’s not to say you’re going to be able to let go of these all at once, or perfectly. It’ll be messy, a journey. And these aren’t strict restrictions, but guidelines to help you be mindful. But in general, you need to have the intention of learning to let go.
Why? Because distractions are a crutch, a mental habit, a refuge for the mind.
We procrastinate through distractions, of course, but we also use it to hide.
Distractions help us hide from:
- Difficult emotions
- Being present
- Things about ourselves we don’t like
- Other people
- Discomfort and fear
- Our mental patterns
- The fear of not being busy
- Our worry that we aren’t content, that we aren’t enough
You might be thinking, “Well, what’s wrong with having a place to rest from all of that? Who wants to face those horrible things?” Hiding from these difficulties doesn’t make them go away, nor does it help the problem. The only thing that helps is to face difficulties with openness, courage, curiosity, and honesty. Giving a difficulty our loving attention actually helps the situation.
So hiding isn’t what to do anymore. Being honest with yourself and admitting that you’ve been using distractions to run, to hide. Have the intention of not hiding, but facing.
You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with a little distraction, a little mental break?” There’s nothing wrong with letting our minds rest — not trying to be productive all the time. But, just notice why you’re trying to run to distractions, and get in touch with those fears instead. Plan to rest, to exercise, to get outside, to meditate, to be present — not to work all the time. Rest is important, but distractions aren’t the only way we can rest. Distractions aren’t the only way to have fun. Distractions are a crutch, if we’re honest with ourselves.
There’s no prescription for life here, make this your current intention and practice it with the people you love.