Just as I (Donna) sat down to write this week’s essay, my computer pinged me that I had two new emails. I turned off my email notice and started again. A few moments later the phone rang. I checked the caller ID and determined it was a robo-call, so I didn’t answer it. Returning to work, I wrote two sentences and my iPad signaled a breaking news report. I turned off my iPad.
I was ready to concentrate.
Moments later my phone’s mindfulness app chimed, beckoning me to take a few breaths and be present to the moment. How ironic. All I wanted was to concentrate for a couple of hours and write this essay. I was personally experiencing what a friend calls “weapons of mass distraction.”
Our clients tell us that one of the reasons they experience workplace drama is because of the constant distractions and the overwhelm they feel. The endless interruptions, dings, pings and rings are vying for their attention and contributing to their mental exhaustion.
You may be exhausted because your brain is constructed to respond to distractions. Your ancestors had to rapidly switch their attention back and forth, looking for unexpected danger. When the pace of life was a slower, the brain’s tendency to pay attention to distractions wasn’t as big a deal.
Living in today’s mass distraction environment, however, mental exhaustion is a big reason you may be living on the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™—-feeling Victimized by exhaustion, and Persecuting yourself for feeling so overwhelmed (or reacting to those “dings, pings and rings” as Persecutors), then Rescuing yourself with various ways to numb your exhaustion.
You may not be fully aware of the toll it is taking on you. Here are a few examples:
- Your ability to return to a task with quality attention, after being distracted, goes down dramatically, requiring you to spend more time and energy to get things done.
- When mentally fatigued, you have less energy to manage yourself. The temptation to reach for the donut or extra class of wine is harder for you to resist.
- Depleted energy robs you of the energy to make decisions, sometimes leaving you in a state of paralysis.
- Mental exhaustion prevents you from attuning yourself to your own emotional needs. If you are numb to your own needs, it is common to turn your attention outward, taking care of others (Rescuing!), further depleting your energy and causing burn-out.
Totally disengaging from technology is not realistic for most, although occasionally doing so is a good idea. More complex and amazing gadgets will forever be part of our future, so what to do?
It is essential that you reflect upon your relationship with technology. Are you energized and empowered, or do you feel mental fatigue because you have not set appropriate boundaries with how you relate to technology?
For example, do you check your phone or email to Rescue yourself from uncomfortable feelings (including feeling bored) in the moment? Do you allow yourself to feel Persecuted by your technology, getting overly upset if it doesn’t work properly? Do you feel Victimized by world events because you are addicted to checking your favorite news app every few minutes?
These are only a few examples of where you may be in a drama relationship with technology.
Life today has created a perfect storm, combining your brain’s natural focus on distractions plus the ever-constant weapons of mass distraction. Shifting your relationship with technology from drama to empowerment starts with you making an honest assessment of your relationship.
I (Donna) will be more honest with myself next time. I will set boundaries and turn off all my devices before I start to write.