It may not be the world’s most serious condition, but if you are feeling scattered these days, or perhaps every day, it gets you down.
Because I work with sensitive people, intuitive and empathic folks, the question of being too frazzled, too “A.D.D.” to get things done, arises frequently. These people are smarter than average, nicer than normal, more gifted and intuitive than most of us, but they struggle with time, details, tasks, priorities and planning.
The process of attending to the tasks you wish to address is something I call Smooth Focus. It is the ability to be present, to be real, and to dig into something when you wish to, instead of feeling like a random electron bouncing off the walls. Many of my clients have tried these steps and found them useful. Here are a few well-tested interventions in Smooth Focus you can try. See if they help you feel more settled.
1. Delayed Tasks Create Heightened Charge. Recognize that when you sit down to a task you have been avoiding, or even one that you have been forced to carve time out to tackle, the first thing you may experience is a heightened charge. You may feel electrified, anxious or like you are vibrating too fast. You may feel an overwhelming urge to get up and do something else. A thousand possible alternatives leap to the mind. You fantasize about cleaning out the garage, walking the dog or searching online for someone you have not spoken to in 15 years. In the face of this vibrating change, it seems like now would be a good time to jump up and do one of those other things.
Here is what is happening. In the first several minutes of tackling a delayed task, you have opened a door and the accumulated feelings and expectations associated with that task are coming at you like a freight train. If you can hang on, it will smooth out in a few minutes. But sensitives and empaths often believe that the way they feel at any moment is the way they are going to continue to feel. In response to the overwhelming charge that occurs when we approach a delayed task, even the most strong-minded among us dash off to do something else because we feel we may explode into spontaneous human combustion.
2. Breathe away the charge. If you find yourself with a rush of electricity in the face of tackling a focused task, use your breathing to ground yourself. Like a marathon runner, breath in through your nose and out smoothly through slightly pursed lips. Match this breath with the intention to slow down internally and smooth out your pace.
We have an acquired fear of thinking slowly and methodically, these days, as though we will be left behind if we actually sit still and work without drama. You may also want to create a little affirmation for yourself: “I can be still enough to do this,” “It is safe for me to do this,” “I can do other things at another time; right now, this is my time to focus on this task.”
3. Deliberately do one thing at a time. The idea of doing one thing, finishing it, and then selecting the next most important thing is like torture to some of us. Yet, many people tell me their morning flies by in a round robin of unfinished tasks as they ricochet from one thing to the next; each thing they pick up stimulates them and triggers a thought of something else. We joke about this, blaming age, frantic stress, hormones or cell phones. But this is not our natural way of being.
If you find yourself with the ricochet pattern, dare yourself to do one thing and not to waver from it until it is completed. Note how many times your mind comes up with an alternative and how automatically you start to put down what is in your hand to go do something else. You may have to resist the “go” impulse a dozen times before your task is completed.
It is not the case that multitasking is a sin, or that doing one thing at a time is more spiritual – the point is this: if we have become incapable of doing one thing at a time, then something is out of whack. Use some of your tasks as meditations and exercises in mindfulness. Start, proceed, let go of the flicker of alternatives that dance through your mind, and finish! Then, and only then, move on to the next big thing. If you can master this process, you will begin to free yourself from feeling scattered and overwhelmed.
4. Reward yourself for Smooth Focus. When you are able to smoothly focus upon and complete what you choose to engage in, then reward yourself for learning how to operate your own controls. At the back of our love affair/addiction with the frantic mode is our hidden wish for enhanced control and choice.
Once your subconscious mind recognizes that matching the focus to the task actually gives you more control and more choice, the inner anxiety-maker will start to let you off the hook. Completing tasks on time, without fear and drama is not a radical move on your part. It is going to be okay. This is a skill, nothing more and nothing less. Learning it is positive because you then have more options in your life and you will become more free. Do something nice for yourself after you engage in smooth focus practice. Soon it will be easier and you will be pleased to find that your modes of focus are far more under your control than you had imagined.
Good luck to you!