Do you constantly fall short of any sort of real achievement because you can’t overcome distraction? And then secretly suffer from feelings of depression and hopelessness as a result?
While it can be easy to resign yourself to just being ‘the scattered sort’, or buy into the notion it’s now normal to be distracted because of our new internet lifestyles, there is often a real answer to the question “why am I so distracted?”
Recognising the real reason you can’t focus can be the beginning of gaining clarity of mind and the ability to finally create the life you want.
5 REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T FOCUS
1. You have Adult ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often wrongly thought to be something just kids suffer from. Adult ADHD is real and can manifest slightly different symptoms which means sufferers can be overlooked. For example, adults are less likely to struggle with hyperactivity. They are, however, more likely to suffer inattentiveness and poor concentration.
Not everyone who struggles with focus has ADHD, though. While the label of ADHD might fit your desperate desire to put a face to your distraction, self-diagnosing if you don’t really have ADHD might stop you from finding the real reason you can’t focus and thus stop you also finding real solutions that move your life forward.
If you are concerned you have ADHD, it’s best to seek a proper diagnosis. If your doctor seems uneducated on the subject or unwilling to deal with it, consider privately hiring a psychiatrist who specialises in ADHD. It will cost, but not as much as years of distraction can when it comes to your career and finances. Or research if there is an ADHD clinic in your city or nearby – some are covered by national health services.
Sleep is in some ways still a mystery, with ongoing studies and new research still coming in. Being tired is obviously bad for anyone’s focus – but why?
A recent study at the University of California on people with sleep apnea – a condition that causes disturbed sleep – made strides on the reasons by linking sleep deprivation with raised cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are known to impair cognitive function.
If you suffer from distraction on a daily basis get honest about whether you are getting enough quality sleep, not just quantity. For example, if you are sleeping eight hours but having a few glasses of wine every night, which is known for disrupting your patterns of sleep, its likely you are not getting as many REM cycles as you need to feel refreshed the next day.
Relationships, even after we’ve had a breakup or heartbreak, can often throw our brain into addictive patterning. They can leave our heads full of obsessive thought patterns that mean we have scant room for clear thinking towards other parts of our life.
And sadly, this sort of unhealthy distraction is easy to not take seriously, because the media promotes ‘crazy love’ as something desirable and exciting. But there’s nothing exciting about living in poverty because you’ve sabotaged a career opportunity due to relationship drama, or having a traffic accident because you are so distracted, or about being emotionally abused or worse.
If you worry you are in an unhealthy relationship, are addicted to another person, or are in a cycle of codependency, it’s important to not just think it will pass but instead seek some form of help. Consider finding support and information in online forums and reading self-help books. If your situation doesn’t improve, see if there is a support group in your area, or seek help from a counsellor or therapist.
4. You suffer from repressed experiences and emotions.
Have you ever tried to hold a beach ball under water? It takes all of your concentration and effort to stop it from popping out again. This can be what it’s like to hide past experiences you are ashamed of or keep down emotions you are afraid of.
Without realising it, all of your attention and energy can be going to repressing whatever it is you have deemed undesirable about yourself and your life experiences.
If you are often tired, have a poor memory when you think about your past, have emotional responses to things in the present that seem over the top, or have repetitive nightmares and panic attacks, it might be that something in your past has occurred that you have repressed that is leaving you always distracted.
Or you might know exactly which past experience has caused you to feel unworthy or damaged in some way, but not realise how much of your energy withholding healing the emotions around the situation is costing you.
While it might be difficult to face your fears and your past, and you might indeed feel worse before you feel better, try to take a long-term vision. Why just get by, when seeing a counsellor or therapist to work through old issues in a safe environment will in the long run lead to more peace of mind as well as energy and focus?
5. You are afraid of success.
Sometimes we choose distractions that keep us away from moving forward because on a certain level we are choosing to sabotage our own success.
There would be reasons you are afraid of success that are keeping you in the pattern. For example, you might on a deep level worry that if you were too successful you’d have less friends, your family would not feel comfortable with you, or everyone would increase their demands on you which would wear you out. Looking at your core beliefs around success is a good starting point.
Do you have troubles concentrating? Have a story to share about how you deal with it, or what you think might be causing it? Post below, we love hearing from you.
Photos by Mike Mozart, Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, Andrew Braithwaite