December 26th, 2005


Avoidance Strategies

I have a book waiting to be read in the other room, and yet I find myself wandering back to the computer again and again, in a compulsive fashion, to see if anything is happening out on the great big interweb. Obviously, it being Kwanzaa, nothing much is happening, so I've been feeling perpetually frustrated.

Of course, the main question is, with interesting people in the house, good books to be read, etc., why am I on the Internet at all, let alone neurotically checking it every 7 minutes? And the answer is - it's an avoidance technique - a way of calming myself down, in much the same way that some people play with rosary beads or check the locks 5 times to make sure they closed their door.

This happens every Christmas, of course, when the place gets full of people and I just want to curl up somewhere and avoid it all - not all the time, I do enjoy bits of it, but often enough that I find myself in the study, hitting refresh on a regular basis.

And not just at Christmas - I've been doing it at home, and at work, and elsewhere - whenever my stress levels start to rise, and I feel my stomach tense, I reach for the thing that relaxes me - and that's checking the Internet to see if anything new has happened to distract me.

Now, I know that various people have told me that this is an unhealthy behaviour, but it's only recently that I've appreciated the extent of it, and that it's not just a useful thing to do when bored (because I do get a lot out of it - I absorb vast amounts of information that way), but a sign that something underlying is wrong, and that I'm trying to avoid feelings of stress that should be dealt with, rather than converted into wikipedia searches.

So... I'm going to march back out there, and talk to people, and when I want to retreat from that, I'm going to go read some more of my book. And try not to check every five minutes to see if one of you has commented on me...
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