• The CalmPost


Updated: Jan 28, 2019

Traction. What is traction?

Recently becoming a master's student of counseling psychology, a common topic coming up between us students & professors is the topic of distraction. And procrastination.

"Procrastination is linked to shame," explains Dr. Ling Lam in his Foundations of Psychotherapy and Personality development class.

(While so often distraction can bring shame!)

As a very literal person, I am inspired to share my take on the topic by looking solely at the word distraction. Let's first start with the latter half.

Traction, in a way, is a lot like friction. Like distraction, friction often has a negative connotation. Though it doesn't have to.

Having a little friction - traction - on something you're focusing on is necessary. Like wheels to the pavement on a bike, or edges of your skis on the slopes. You need that mind-to-matter connection in order to make it come to life. Or even keep you safe!

Let's look at the word attention, for example. In order to focus on something so intently, it almost needs a bit of tension. Your tension at something... is at-tention!

So what happens when we undergo a dis-traction?

It means the intensity of what we were focusing on is no longer there. We have dis-stanced our focus from the task at hand.

So what do we do?

"If your mind has wandered, gently bring yourself back," I hear Dr. Shapiro so often guiding us students in her Psychology of Interpersonal Communications class.

And that surely is one fantastic option!

Another is to follow the tension. Where is your focus leading you?

An analogy I often use here is the cleaning the house example. I am curious if you clean firstly the kitchen, then the bathroom, then the bedroom... and so forth?

For me, this is not my way. I approach cleaning my house like a dance. Something in the living room needing to be brought to the bedroom keeps me in the bedroom until I find something that needs to be brought back to the living room. It's in the liberated free-flow I find myself cleaning the house at a much more succinct and quick pace as opposed to going room by room.

Surely it's a balance.

"Too much stress is damaging, but too little stress likely won't lead to change," explains Allen Ivey in his Intentional Interviewing & Counseling book. I find a commonality on his view on stress as I do tension.

It's when tracking what needs our attention, we may not find ourselves at such a dis-stance from where we are in the present moment.

(Did you lose track? Maybe reread!)

Of course! The mind needs discipline. We would accomplish nothing in a day if we let it off the leash and allowed it the run of the dog park.

But at least, hey! Something to think about.

Here's to not dissing our needed traction! #distraction

#befriendthemind #mindfulness #focus #tension #attention #newways #perspective #tracking

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