Is distracting myself a good thing

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Is distracting myself a good thing

Today one of the most popular advice in the self help world is "distract yourself" or "find something that you like then do it". Whether its a breakup or a severe depression this advice usually doesn't change but it only takes different forms.

Sometimes its called keep yourself busy
sometimes its called exercise
and sometimes its even called just don't think about it.

So can preventing yourself from thinking about a problem that is bothering you help you feel better?
Before i can answer this question let me first tell you few facts about the way the mind works and the way emotions change.

Why do we feel good when we talk about our problems

A study has shown that most people feel better right after talking about their problems even if no soloution was offered from the listener. In fact, about 50% of the mood improvement people experience when they visit psychologists regularly happens because they find someone to listen to them. (see also How to coach people)

Now the question is, why does talking about a problem make us feel better? Is it just that we need someone to listen to us and acknowledge our pain?

No its not just that. When you bring the problems that are bothering you to the surface you signal hope to your subconscious mind and tell it indirectly that you are trying to get help to solve it. And when it comes to ending bad emotions hope is the magical word you are looking for.

Ever was so hungry but didn't find food in your home? Now didn't you notice that a great deal of your hunger went away as soon as the delivery you ordered arrived? Its because a great part of the hunger was fueled by your mind's worries about not being able to find food.In other words your mind was trying to motivate you to find food using hunger.

Now imagine that you felt so hungry, didn't find food in home then decided to exercise, watch a movie or hang out with a friend. Won't you feel much more hungry? Exactly because you will be killing your mind's hope in finding food.

Its all about bringing hope

When you tell your subconscious mind indirectly, by taking actions, that you are trying o solve your problems it will withdraw a great deal of the bad emotions you are suffering from. Now what if you went on doing everything else except the things that might provide your mind with this hope?

Your mind will become more worried and as a result it will keep reminding you of your problems by sending you horrible emotions every few minutes. This is exactly why you remember your problems every few minutes while you are distracting yourself. (see also Why do i feel down all the time)

Its because your mind is trying to tell you that this is the last thing on earth you should be doing now. Its because your mind is trying to tell you that unless you work on solving these problems not burying them that it will bring you peace of mind.

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