To deal with unwelcome thoughts that can distract you, follow these 4 steps.
While we can’t control the feelings and thoughts that pop into our heads, we can control what we do with them. Bricker’s work utilising acceptance and commitment therapy in smoking cessation programmes says we shouldn’t constantly telling ourselves to stop thinking about an urge; instead, we must find better methods to manage. The same holds true for other sources of distraction including excessive phone use, junk food consumption, and shopping. We need new strategies to deal with intrusive thoughts rather than fighting the desire.
We can accomplish it using the four steps that follow.
Step 1: Locate the Uncomfort That Comes Before the Diversion and Concentrate on the Internal Trigger
The impulse to google something while I’m writing is a frequent issue for me. It’s simple to excuse this poor behaviour as “doing research,” but I know in my heart that it’s often just a way to avoid completing the challenging work. The internal trigger that comes before the undesirable behaviour, such as “feeling uncomfortable, having a yearning, feeling restless, or believing you are inept,” is what Bricker suggests focusing on.
Write down the trigger in Step 2
Bricker advises noting down the trigger, whether or not you subsequently give in to the distraction. Because it’s simpler to remember your feelings at that point, he advises writing the time of day, what you were doing, and how you felt when you noticed the internal trigger that resulted in the distracted activity. While people may quickly recognise the exterior trigger, it “takes some time and trials to begin identifying those all-important internal triggers,” according to Bricker. He suggests telling yourself something like, “I’m feeling the tension in my chest right now. I’m talking to myself about the impulse as if I were an observer. I’m now attempting to reach for my iPhone. The more effectively we can identify the behaviour, the better we’ll be able to control it in the long run. The feeling of anxiousness dissipates, and the thought weakens or is replaced by another.
Step 3: Investigate Your Sensations
Bricker then advises becoming interested in that sensation. Do your fingers twitch, for instance, just before you get distracted? When you consider employment while spending time with your children, do you experience an uproar of stomach butterflies? What does it feel like when emotions peak before falling off? Before acting on an urge, Bricker advises remaining with the emotion. The participants in a smoking cessation research who had learnt to notice and explore their urges succeeded in quitting at a rate that was double that of those in the American Lung Association’s top-performing programme. The “leaves on a stream” technique is one of Bricker’s favourites. Imagine yourself sitting next to a gently flowing stream when you feel the uncomfortable internal trigger to do something you’d prefer not, the author advises. “Now visualise leaves floating in the stream. Put a notion for each leaf in your head. It might be a sight, a word, a fear, or a memory. And as you sit and observe, let each leaf glide down the stream, twirling away.
Step Four: Watch Out for Liminal Moments
Our days are filled with transitional times called liminal moments. Have you ever taken up your phone to check a traffic light and then realised you were still using it while driving? Or did you open a tab in your computer browser, get impatient with how long it was taking to load, and while you were waiting, open another page? Or did you use a social networking app as you made your way between meetings, just to keep scrolling once you got back to your desk? None of these behaviours in and of themselves are improper. Instead, what’s risky about them is that by doing them “for only a second,” we’re more inclined to do things like Getting off track or getting into an accident. The “ten-minute rule” is a tactic that I’ve discovered to be especially effective for avoiding this distraction trap. I tell myself it’s okay to give in, but not now, if I catch myself wanting to check my phone as a pacifier when I can’t think of anything else to do. I have to wait just ten minutes. This method works well to help me deal with a variety of possible distractions, such as searching for something online rather than writing, indulging in unhealthy eating when bored, or watching another Netflix show when I’m “too exhausted to go to bed.”
This regulation gives time to engage in “surfing the urge,” as some behavioural psychologists refer to it. When an impulse strikes, observing it and riding it like a wave, without ignoring it or acting on it, helps us get by till the feelings pass. When compared to smokers in a control group who didn’t apply the strategy, surfing the urge and other methods to draw attention to the appetite cause smokers to smoke fewer cigarettes overall. We are free to carry out the action if we still desire to do so after 10 minutes of urge surfing, but this is rarely the case. We can now carry out the action we actually wanted to accomplish because the liminal period has passed. We can resist succumbing to distractions on the spur of the moment by practising mental skill-building techniques like surfing the impulse and visualising our cravings as leaves on a stream. They reprogram our thoughts to respond reflectively rather than reactively when faced with internal triggers. It’s a fascinating truth that when you gently pay attention to bad feelings, they tend to evaporate — but happy emotions expand, as Oliver Burkeman noted in the Guardian.
An painful internal trigger can be neutralised by rethinking it.
Step 1: Search for the emotion that came before the distraction.
Step 2: Describe the internal trigger in writing.
Step 3: Instead of dismissing the unfavourable feeling, explore it.
Step 4: Use extra caution when in liminal situations.
Hi, I’m Garima and I write about life experiences. I have several books available on Amazon. Check them out today! Any purchases or KDP reads will be greatly appreciated. If you like my books, do leave a review. Here’s my author page on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0BQDZXYNV