We live in a world that is fueled by distractions.
Buzz Buzz! A Text!
Pa-Ping! An Email!
Duh-Da-Duh! Duh-Da-Duh! Sports Center Notification! That team you keep up with is doing something WAY more exciting than you are right now!
There are constant opportunities to be distracted.
It has always bewildered me that we have access to the entire world worth of knowledge in our pockets and we choose to sit and watch Netflix and scroll through feeds and feeds of memes, pictures of cats, and notifications about what everyone else is doing.
Even now, as I write this article I have 16 tabs open in another browser, Spotify playing, 3 group text conversations going, and on top of all that I am sitting in a busy coffee shop.
So, it’s not surprising when a breakup occurs, that the first thing the people that care about us do is try and help us distract ourselves.
As if we even need help.
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There are several reasons this instinct comes so easily to people. It is in our nature as humans to want to fix a problem. When something’s broken, we want to fix it.
Think about it.
What is the one thing I could put you in a room with that would make you the most uncomfortable?
One of those aggressive sales people that seem like they might live in the middle of the mall?
I’m willing to bet that one of the most stressful things I could do to a man would be to put them in a room with a tearful woman.
Because something terrifies us about being faced with a problem that is not easily solved. And half the time the reasons for a woman’s tears are unknown even to her.
So, you see the dilemma.
You want to fix the problem, but you can’t even really understand it, and there isn’t really a solid solution.
When someone we care about is hurting we rush to aid them the only ways we know how.
This desire can be attributed to altruism, the capability to empathize, but it can also lend itself to something very selfish, the desire not to be uncomfortable.
And think about it, would you rather them not care at all?
It’s not unusual, and it doesn’t make them bad people, but you can only listen to someone’s sob story so many times. And when you care about someone, it can hurt you to watch them hurt. Surely, you’ve been in this situation. I mean, you have friends that have gone through breakups. Is it not your first inclination to help them through it?
I’m not trying to devalue their efforts. More so, I am trying to help you understand that not all of the suggestions given to you are solely in your best interest, not because they have bad intentions, but because there isn’t really anything they can do to make you feel better.
So, knowing that you shouldn’t just jump on every suggestion put in front of you, how do you know how to determine healthy distractions from unhealthy ones?
Well, I am so glad you asked!
It is really quite simple really, but I am going to lay it out anyways, because even the manliest man ever gets emotional after a breakup and isn’t exactly seeing things clearly.
I think we can all agree that ideas that wouldn’t normally sound rationale sound completely sane right after a break up. Then three weeks later, you’re wondering why that crazy chick you dated 6 years ago thinks it’s cool to just show up at your house unannounced.
Oh yeah, because your friends and you ego that was looking for that reminder that you were still “bangable” told you it was totally cool to just hook up with her. She’d totally understand… riiiiiiiiiight.
You know that time you considered about doing something over the top and a little outlandish, but then you went,
“You know what? That might not be the best idea.”
The tempting unhealthy distractions that are more likely to have a bad outcome usually fall to the overindulgent side of things.
Too much of anything is exactly that… too much. But more and more, especially in the upcoming generations, we don’t know when to say when.
When is something excessive to the point of being harmful to your well-being.
So, what warrants the label of unhealthy?
Seriously! If you are spending all of your free time stuffing your face like Bruce Bogtrotter when he’s faced with a giant chocolate cake like he was in “Matilda,” then you need to re-evaluate.
You did see “Matilda” right?
BOOZE or DRUGS
Do you find yourself parked at a bar grasping a cold one a lot more now that you’re flying solo? I lumped drinking in with drugs because they are both distractions that alter your state of mind.
Drinking will heighten your emotions. So, If you are feeling sad, you’re feel more sad.
If you’re angry about your situation, you’re more like to just get angrier.
Well, just stop it! Don’t do it.
Not only are these things not exactly GOOD for you, but doing anything that alters your state of mind is sure to lead to even more bad mistakes, like those annoying late night “I miss you” texts that you know you’ll regret the next day.
It’s sad, but it’s almost amazing the rate at which my guy friends start spending once it sets in that they are now single.
Weird things they’ve bought.
- A Convertible BMW – fully equipped with two car seats for his two toddlers.
- Home Theater Setup – Yeah I’m talking a HUGE high definition projector setup with Bluetooth surround sound. It was cool, but he paid for it all on Credit. It was upwards of like six grand. He’s still paying for it 3 relationships and several years later.
- 14 Pairs of Running Shoes – he thought running was going to be an outlet. I don’t even think he’s worn half of those shoes in the past year.
- A Unicycle – don’t ask. I believe the reason he gave was something about chicks digging guys that had unique interests or something.
- An Entire New Wardrobe- It’s one thing to channel your style, but it was like he was trying on personalities. He bought cowboy boots and a Stetson to impress some girl that was into two-stepping. Then, he bought full three piece suits, which looked great if he ever actually wore them, but they weren’t his style. And then the worst thing that happened to men’s fashion in my lifetime… no I’m not talking about man purses… FLAT BILLED HATS. Ugh. I’m sorry if you’re into the flat-billed fad, but no, especially when you leave the dang stickers on. What even is the point? Maybe I missed it. It’s not so bad if you’re younger, but if you are a grown man like he is, just… don’t.
- A Motorcycle
- Then I have one guy friend who just buys random stuff constantly on Amazon, because it makes him feel like he’s getting presents all the time. A direct quote from him, “I have Prime so the shipping’s free. It’s like it’s all on sale anyways. So I get a good deal and it’s like Christmas every day!” He even orders toilet paper on Amazon. I doubt I stand alone when I say that might be a little excessive.
There are so many more that I could write a book. It’s sad. Don’t buy stupid stuff. I don’t know if you were a Robin Williams fan, but, if you were, you might have seen his stand up. If you haven’t and me mentioning it makes you want to go and check it out, well, I’m going to go ahead and give you a heads-up. It is not for children or the easily offended. The reason I mention it is because he put what I am trying to say the best and clearest way ever.
He basically says to take that “As Seen On TV” electric shock ab thing that “give you six pack abs” while you sit and watch TV, strap it to your head and say, *I WILL NOT BUY STUPID SHIT FOR NO REASON!* Anymore!”
I prefer the term “Sluttin’ it up.”
It’s more accurate.
A lot of guys jump back into the dating pool too soon. There should be one of those 30 minutes before swimming rules for that pool, except the limit would be based on emotional stability.
No, not the stability to put out there to seem tough for your bros. I mean the legit, “I still think about my ex when I lay down and try and sleep” feels.
It’s easy to get caught up in being unsure of yourself, especially after a particularly rough breakup. And the way so many men these days try to reclaim that feeling of being wanted is by plowing through as many girls as they can.
You’ve heard that saying, “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone” right? Well isn’t true. We all know that having just anyone tell you they find you attractive isn’t the same as having the person you want tell you that.
Having 40 girls deem you worth sleeping will not take away the feeling of being left. It’s just a dirstaction from the crappy feeling.
BINGE WATCHING NETFLIX
Don’t tell me you haven’t marathoned entire shows. I know I’m guilty of this at times. The extent to which it becomes unhealthy is when it starts keeping you from doing the things you are supposed to. The perfect example is actually the guy that bought the cowboy boots that I mentioned before.
He wound up taking vacation time off because he didn’t feel like interrupting his Walking Dead marathon. I venture to say he didn’t move from that spot on his couch for two weeks, even to shower.
The last destructive distraction I want to talk about is the feels.
Everyone gets the feels sometimes.
I can hear the groans from here.
But, here’s the funny thing. When faced with the crappy feels that aren’t that fun to deal with, a lot of people will over compensate by trying to prove that they’re not actually in any pain. They will distract themselves by focusing so hard on pretending to be unfazed.
When helping people in my group of friends deal with breakups efficiently, which is more often than you’d imagine, I find myself saying, “don’t bro out” relatively regularly, even to my girlfriends.
Any time you try and bury what you are actually feeling and try to be tough, you are prolonging the amount of time it will take to deal with it later. That’s why I encourage everyone I talk with to face their emotions right at the beginning. Take a day or two to just fell what your feeling and THEN move forward. It keeps you from ignoring the feelings that way.
Bro-ing out is a surefire way to get trapped in an avalanche of feels later.
Now, these distractions that we’ve talked about so far are unhealthy, destructive even. And they are perpetuated by movies, TV shows, and even the music we listen to. So, when our friends come at you suggesting you go out, drink till you can’t see straight and take home some random girl, it’s because they care. But it isn’t always the best advice.
It is on you to make decisions that benefit you.
What makes a distraction healthy is the fact that they lend to making your life better instead of keeping you stuck.
So, my suggestions is always to decide what you want your end result to be and then use your distractions to line up your actions with that goal.
Trying to stay on a positive path with no goal is like trying to find a location with no address and no map. The likeliness that you’ll find it is highly unlikely.
You simply have to decide what is important to you. For me the parameters usually fall to education, business, and fitness, all of which are part of your general well-being.
There are over 2300 ted talks to choose from on various topics.
Find something interesting and follow the rabbit trail TED provides.
They even have a series on coffee for weirdos like me who drink coffee like it’s going out of style and find its effects interesting.
There are series that cover what is going on around the world as well. I know that things are a little overwhelming, but I have this feeling that the lack of being informed is a big part of the amount of chaos going on in the world.
Having more people that are informed about the state of things might lead them to make changes in their own lives that benefit everyone.
Seriously, read anything! Cultivating knowledge helps make good choices.
I’m not necessarily a fan of fiction. I usually prefer to stick to informational audio, like business, financial and personal development.
Here are a few of my favorites. I included amazing links if you want to check them out for yourself. I usually stick to audio books so I can do other things, like draw graphics, or work one of the many creative projects I usually keep on my plate.
Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
I actually quote the studies referenced in this one quite a bit when writing. Not only is this book well written, but it also offers some insight into changing bad habits. So, it helps you cultivate good replacement habits instead.
Mastery by Robert Greene
I’ve read several of Robert Greene’s books and I’ve found that he could probably write a grocery list and I would enjoy it. He has a unique way of pulling research together to create a truly enjoyable experience. I would love to write as well as he does. He even makes historical references interesting.
Me saying that is a big deal. Usually if someone starts talking history, my eyes glaze over.
Interviews with the Masters: A Companion to Robert Greene’s Mastery by Robert Greene
This Book is a companion to the one listed above it. It includes interviews with the various masters he refers to in “Mastery.” Their insights and stories are some of the most interesting ones I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
25 Laws for Doing the Impossible by Patrick Bet-David
I listened to this book while I was renovating our house a few years ago. It made such an impact that I get a huge surge of motivation every time I smell sawdust or smell freshly cut grass.
Limitless by Alan Glynn
I know I said I don’t do stories, but this one is THE exception. Now, if you’ve already seen the movie you are in for a shocking surprise because the ending is not at all the same. But for the rest of the story, it’s pretty close to the book.
I think the reason I love it so much is because it ventures into the realm of making the most out of the life you have. Which we all know I’m for.
Reading this can help you accept that there ARE things you have control of still if you only reach out and take hold of them.
The feeling you get from reading this book is a genuine representation of everything I write about on a daily basis.
The results, as he says, are limitless.
If you aren’t taking classes already, maybe look into starting or, if you’ve already partially completed one, maybe finishing a degree.
For example, I need to. I mean, come on, I only have one class left. What’s stopping me other than me? Right?
They say if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.
What’s stopping you?
GET IN SHAPE
I think one of my favorite distractions there is to hit the gym.
But it’s also one of the first things that occur to everyone after a breakup. I mean it’s common knowledge, I think, but…
“Living well is the best revenge.” – George Herbert
It’s a great distraction! It takes up plenty of time and, if you are anything like me, you spend time building your own programs and schedules. Then you spend time putting the time in AND you get the added bonus of looking great and feeling even better than that.
Are you bored or unhappy with where you are in your job?
Take any necessary steps to advancing your career to the level you desire. If this means you need to take a class or put in extra hours. DO IT! I cannot stress enough how taking initiative looks these days. So many people settle for doing the bare minimum. If you take the initiative, I’m sure it will not go unnoticed.
Or, perhaps you are unhappy where you’re working all together. Figure out where you’d rather be and put yourself in a position to make a move in that direction. I’m not saying quit a job you hate and leave yourself stranded. No!
For example, one of my best friends is a server. But what he really wants to do is become a lawyer. For years he knew that was what he wanted to do, but it wasn’t until he picked up a side job as a paralegal that he got a real taste of the legal world. Now, he’s still serving tables, but he’s also in his second year of law school. He had been putting it off because it wasn’t “a good time.” In reality, he had other ways he liked to spend his time, like binge watching Rhett and Link on YouTube, or playing PS4 every chance he got and then some.
Don’t get me wrong, those are all well and good in moderation, but we’re talking a collective of days and months wasted.
All it took was a swift kick in the pants and a reality check to get him moving.
There is literally NO downside to doing things that are good for you!
So, get up and go do what needs to be done.
Set a goal or, if you’re ambitious, a couple of goals. Use those goals to create a feeling of purpose. Let that purpose pull you out of bed, away from the couch, out form in front of the computer and the TV.
There was a story one of our teachers told us in college. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’ll tell you anyways.
Once there was a farmer who had a donkey and one day that donkey fell down a well. After weighing all his options and listen to the animal’s cry for many hours, he decided that the donkey was old and that the well needed to be filled. He would simply bury the donkey and accept his losses.
I remember sitting in that classroom thinking “Man, what a jerk move!”, and we all know this would fly with animal rights activists, PETA, and what not, but for the sake of the story, we’ll pretend that burying a donkey alive is a totally normal thing to do. We won’t call the farmer a jerk or anything like that.
Anyways, so the farmer starts shoveling dirt and after a while he realizes that the donkey is no longer crying. He looks down and realizes that with ever shovel full of dirt, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up. So, the farmer continued shoveling. Eventually the donkey walked right out of the well.
This is a perfect example of a concept in Japanese Psychology, Kaizen. The basic concept of Kaizen is incremental change. Instead of diving headfirst, it’s more about taking small actions towards a goal.
As is well known, any progress is still progress.
I know this is a hard concept for some. Patience isn’t really something that is grasped by many people these days.
It’s kind of like how a rain can level a mountain over time. It isn’t done in one single blow, but by millions of water particles hitting the same spot individually over time. The landscape of our world is in constant flux this way
And like the rain, we can transform our lives.
By actively choosing to avoid distractions that might hinder us or even have us regress, we can focus on building a positive life that reflects our goals rather than our fears.
Crappy things are going to happen over the course of your life. There will be stones in your path. It’s up to you whether you build a bridge or a wall barring your path forward.
I hope you choose to take the initiative and press on.
And when it gets difficult, and you know it will, take the time to surround yourself with people who care about you, understand your goals, and push you to be better.