The Real Reason so Many of Use Distractions to Escape
Yet again, I’ve found myself sitting in condemnation for a bad month of working out.
The last couple of weeks my family and I have welcomed out-of-town guests to stay with us, we’ve traveled to other cities for baseball tournaments, and we’ve attended afterschool activities that have lasted well into the night.
Simply put, we’ve worn ourselves to a frazzle.
Many people struggle with overeating.
I am one of them.
My overeating started at fourteen years old, and, off and on, it’s been happening ever since.
I masked it for years because my metabolism was excellent. I could ram my car into a McDonald’s and not gain weight.
But then, a few years after my hysterectomy, losing weight felt impossible. It seemed as if I’d gained thirty pounds over night, and most of it had gone to my belly.
I tried keto. I tried WW. I tried counting calories and clean eating.
Intermittent fasting was going to save me, then back to WW I crawled.
I might lose five, maybe even ten pounds, but every single time, I gained it all back.
My dieting spun like a yo-yo, and I couldn’t keep up.
Nor did I understand why I was shoving food into my mouth to begin with. At that time, I didn’t know what distractions were or what it meant to use food, alcohol, sex or any other addiction to escape from reality.
But one year, after a particularly crappy few months and a string of bad hangovers, I made the connection that my bad nights of drinking only occurred when there was something negative happening in my life.
I could go out with friends and have a blast with no regrets when times were good. But when times were bad, wow. Watch out.
Likewise, my eating seemed to follow a similar pattern. Even if I never ate the “perfect” foods, I still didn’t struggle with overeating in goods time nearly as much as I did when times were rough.
I’d heard the terms distracting/escaping, and I realized that, yes, this was me.
But how do you pinpoint why you’re distracting? And why does it seem like so many of us are?
I have a theory, and I’m going to share it with you here.
Many thousands of years ago, we were wanderers. We hunted, we gathered, we traveled, we rested.
Issues like distraction and escape were overshadowed by necessities like surviving and finding food that wouldn’t kill you.
Years and years later, people began to settle. They built cities and opened businesses and started schools.
All of those new ideas stole a ton of energy. There was no time to be distracted when we were conquering. And those of us who did find time opened a good book and spent quality moments in a fantastical world we could only picture in our head.
Fast forward to the 20th-21st centuries. We *want* to believe there is life left to conquer, new territory to claim, new ideas to be harvested.
But do we really believe this is true?
I’m not so sure.
Back then, in those early days of civilization, though times were by no means easy, we understood our purpose and our roles.
There was a humility to living life that put us in the clay position and a higher power, no matter the kind one believed, in the potter’s place.
Over time, we looked around and saw that lands were divided by nation or by value, castles, whether small or large, stood proud, and ingenuity had been fully developed to the point of human extinction.
We now have less jobs for humans because of the technology that has replaced us. A shaky place to reside in this world.
Our land is being swallowed by this development or that subdivision. And older structures are being vacated and crumbling into disrepair.
Whole towns are ghostly now, as young people have moved on to bigger and better places, usually to discover that the bigger is suffocating and the better really isn’t better, after all.
Our young ones struggle to connect the learning they’re forced to pretend to accomplish in school with anything of tangible value in the real world.
The disconnect leads them to literally disconnect. They’d rather spend time mimicking dances on TikTok than reading Herodotus or Pride and Prejudice.
The adults aren’t faring much better. We carpool to cubicles and head home to loaf. A glass of wine and some Netflix finish off our nights. We wake up and repeat.
We throw our interests into any and everything that might entertain us, if only for a little bit. A sports game, an awards show, a juicy podcast, a terrible reality TV show.
Distract, distract, distract. It’s what we do.
I truly believe many of us are being woken up by the stirring of our discontented heart.
We know there’s something missing, something good out there that we just can’t quite reach.
I think we catch a glimpse of the good life through a perfectly filtered lens of an influencer’s Instagram. The world they’ve created is the world we want.
Or we find sprinkles of it in a calming coffee-session with a friend. Mocha lattes in hand, we’re ready to conquer the world.
An empowering sermon, an uplifting podcast.
We keep reaching, hoping that somehow, someday, there is going to be a force that takes hold of us and leads us to a better place.
I’m here to tell you, the force is us and the place is the present. At our disposal are tools and examples, a new day and a brand new life.
If we take our eyes off of others for one second and stop to reflect on what it is we really want–what makes our eyes light up, our hearts sing and our feet dance–and we stop worrying what everyone else thinks about our desires, we can live a distraction-free life.
The key to success is not just consistency. We’d like to think we can always be consistent, but if you notice, people who are overly-consistent in their lives also tend to be incredibly obsessive. They make whatever they’re hyper-focused on an idol.
Consistency is good, but the key to true success is continuation.
It’s picking yourself up off the ground when you’ve had a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year.
Humans ebb and flow. We live among thorns and flowers, we travel peaks and valleys.
Life isn’t always going to make us consistent. We aren’t always going to choose the right thing.
We must pick ourselves up, dust our britches off, and carry on.
In choosing not to remain down, we force our eyes off of distraction and start walking the road to freedom once again.
And we always remember: it’s not the destination that counts.
It’s all about the journey.
What new things are you learning about the reasons for escaping and distracting? Are you guilty of it, too? What are your go-to methods for getting back on track? I’d love to hear from you.