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Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m an email addict.

I wrote a little on this yesterday, I know, but this modern affliction of information overload is something I wanted to address just a bit more deeply (Not too deeply though – because I might miss an important email 🙂  )

Seriously though. Of course I’m using the word “addict” loosely. An addiction to checking email and RSS feeds is not at the same level of an actual physical addiction, and I don’t want to gloss over the serious nature of drug and alcohol addictions. However, I’ve always known I have an “addictive” personality – and perhaps that’s not the correct terminology because I’m referring to being psychologically addicted rather than physically.

Whether it’s sweets, coffee, gin & tonics, weed, or now email – once I get in a habit with something I get attached (addicted) to having it ALL THE TIME. Well, I guess email is the only one of the above that makes the “all the time” cut, but I’ve been known to turn to each of those things on a daily basis during certain periods of my life.

When I try to stop I get anxious, grouchy, something’s just not right. I might wake up and tell myself that today I won’t touch whatever the offending substance is – only to break down hours later. (I’m usually full of resolve to be a better person in the early morning moments – unfortunately it usually only lasts a few hours.)

I’m just a creature of habit. Habits and routines make me happy. Well, they make me comfortable. The problem is they make me stuck. At least the ones  that no longer serve me do. (One ‘addiction’ that I’m glad I’ve developed is to exercise. But that’s another, more uplifting, story.) Over the years I’ve succumbed to so many ‘addictive’ habits, and I guess they served their purpose to help me through particular difficulties. Even if that purpose was perhaps counter-productive, for example numbing my feelings so I don’t have to dive into any pain.

God, I hate pain. Physical, emotional, mental – I can’t stand any of it. Who doesn’t? I know.  But sometimes I wonder if I’m particularly wired to avoid it even more than the average population. I’ve sure done a pretty good job of it for the last five decades.

Trouble is, that very avoidance, that push to avoid pain at all costs, has cut me off from countless  opportunities. To grow, to live more fully, to stretch into my true potential.

Wait a second! This post was supposed to be about my addiction to email, RSS feeds, and reading blogs. I wanted this to be light and funny. Oops. Strange where the writing takes you. I’d never really thought of my email addiction as a method to avoid pain. Could it be? I just thought it was about procrastinating and avoiding more challenging work.

I’ve made some progress in harnessing some of these other ‘addictions’ (although I slip more than just occasionally). But this email thing is kind of new. It’s got me in a tight grip. Within seconds of waking up I start to wonder what might be in my in-box. Who may have responded to something I sent? Who might have a creative or inspiring story to share? What’s the biggest news of the day?

Since I started my Meditation Experiment I’ve forced myself to stay away from the computer until I’ve done my 10-15 minutes of quiet time. So, I’m slowly weaning myself I guess. I get up, do some morning routine activities such as making tea, emptying the dishwasher. I do my meditation, and only then do I open up that revered in-box.

My goal though is to tackle some activities that challenge me more before checking in on that cyber world! I’d like to do at least do some writing before I get lost in link-land. And ideally, I would actually “eat the frog” – an expression I learned from a blogging friend – and deal with a task that I’m resisting because of fear or lack of self-confidence (or whatever.)

I’m not making any promises here. Baby steps. This addiction has still got me by the throat. At least my Gmail account doesn’t ping every time a new one comes in. Otherwise I would have left already to go take a look.

Baby steps. At least I’m not at the computer the instant my teeth are brushed. Maybe in the weeks to come I can report that I’ve found the will to delay my email gratification until after I’ve written my blog post or my 500-1000 words.

Anybody else out there deal with this? Have you found any workable solutions to email overload and addictions?

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