There is nothing easier in the world to distract than a child. A child can be distracted by a shiny object, a sweet, a puppet or more commonly, an iPad or the tablet of your choice.
This seems to be a simple formula for many parents, myself included sometimes – the child has skinned their knee and is upset, or is causing a scene in the restaurant or anything else that is, to be honest, just what children do, and we immediately try to distract them by giving them a toy, making a funny face, or turning on the iPad.
The child is now quiet.
But this is the lesson we are teaching our children when we do this: When you are faced with an uncomfortable emotion, distract yourself.
And so we have been raised, and are raising, generation upon generation of people who choose to distract themselves from their problems instead of dealing with them.
When someone breaks our heart, we have a drink or go shopping.
When we hate our job or school or college, we come home and put Netflix on and begin the endless the scroll through our phone.
When there’s something in your life that you need to fix that you’re just not fixing, you can just book a holiday or start a fight.
I am not against having fun, or relaxing or entertainment.
I am against distraction. Because our problems don’t go away.
They stay there until the day we deal with them. And to keep them at bay, we will have to keep being distracted.
When I’m a good parent, which I try to be as often as I can, and my daughter skins her knee, I sit with her and I say, “That must have really hurt.” and she nods and she cries and she hugs me. We talk about what it felt like and within a minute or two, she feels better, and she carries on running.
Entire industries and technologies are built around the idea that you would rather be distracted than actually deal with any of your problems. So this will be hard but – Look at how you’re feeling today and instead of ignoring it, acknowledge it.
Whatever we feel in our minds and in our bodies is there to tell us something.
Don’t distract yourself.