A recent study by researchers at University of Virginia and Harvard published July 4th, in the journal of Science, found that many people would rather be doing something, including hurting themselves, than be alone with their thoughts. In one experiment two-thirds of the men and twenty-five percent of the women actually preferred to give themselves a mild electric shock (an average of 7 times in 15 minutes) rather than just be with their own thoughts. The shock was hurtful enough that every person had previously said they would pay to avoid it. And, yet they were willing to intentionally experience pain to avoid being thoughtfully alone.
Unfortunately, as a society, we don’t encourage a wondering, wandering mind. Being self-absorbed is simply defined as to be absorbed in one’s own thoughts or interests. And, yet, the synonyms for self-absorbed include egoistical, egomaniacal, narcissistic, self-centered, self-infatuated, self-involved, and selfish. Who would want to experience solitude if this is how we define self-focused thought?
There is also much to distract even those desiring time for self-pondering thought. To be honest, sometimes too much of my alone-to-ponder time is spent playing Angry Birds or scrolling through Facebook (although I did find this blog topic while scrolling).
I think the problem is that for the majority of us, the thinking we do while alone is negative, painful and draining. If all we think about while alone is about our fear, our anxiety, feeling inadequate, blaming others for our situation, being critical, suspicious or feeling pressure, why would we want to spend any time there?
Here’s an idea. Let’s tweak the definition of self-absorbed to make the time spent there more enjoyable and effective. Self-absorbed (Clarity definition) is to be absorbed in one’s own lights-on, energizing, effective thoughts or one’s vision and passion driven interests. Sounds pretty good to me; spend my solitude time thinking about all the things that light me up, things I’m curious about, things I’m grateful for, and my confidence in my ability to create the peak experiences I want in my life.
We also need to modify the synonyms for this new definition to include self-directed visionary, self-centered and aligned with life, self-infatuated and confident, sacredly selfish by serving others from a life full of celebration and joy.
The answer to increasing your desire to spend more time with your own thoughts is to give yourself an internal electric shock – follow your own lights-on, energetic thinking.
In self-absorbed (Clarity definition) thought,