Making space (part 2)

The daily pause and the dreaded phone

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my thinking on how I might incorporate a daily pause into my life.

This idea comes from the book Spacemaker by Daniel Sih, and it’s about finding moments within your day where you deliberately don’t use your phone, to give yourself a break from being online. Some of Daniel’s suggestions were to charge the phone outside your bedroom so you’re not looking at it last thing at night and first thing in the morning, and to make mealtimes phone-free.

I was going to write some more about this but I got sick and everything came to a screaming halt. But I’m feeling better now and I think it’s time to jump back into this work.

First up, I think it would be cheating to say that, because I never take my phone into my bedroom, I’m already making space for a daily pause and don’t need to think about it any more. There’s room for me to do a lot more in this space.

As well as not having my phone in my bedroom, we have a house rule of no phones at the table at meal times, which has been in place for a long time. It works well at dinner time but it’s not a thing when people are having meals by themselves, which is usually the case at breakfast time and lunch time, especially on weekdays when everyone’s on their own schedule.

After thinking about what Daniel said, I decided that I didn’t want to do this any more. It ties in with other ideas I’ve read about trying to be more mindful and present when you’re having a meal, which you can’t do when you’re constantly scrolling your phone.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I sat down for breakfast with the intention of not looking at my phone. I still had it in my pocket though so I could feel its presence and I knew I could reach down and grab it any time I wanted to . . .

It felt weird. I really wanted to get it out and start scrolling. I was feeling anxious that the phone was right there but I wasn’t allowing myself to have it. It was really hard to do, even though there have been times when I’ve been at the table with others and the phone has been there and I’ve had no desire to look at it.

I think it’s because, in that situation, I don’t look at the phone. There are other people around and we have the rule.

But in this situation, having breakfast by myself, where it’s become a habit to look at the phone, I really wanted it. My itch to grab the phone was a lot stronger than I had thought it would be and it took a lot much more will power than I had expected to not take it out of my pocket.

That surprised me. I thought I could resist the phone with no trouble at all. And I’m sure if it hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have been a problem, But just knowing it was there . . .

It was an interesting experience, having this urge and refusing to allow myself to give in to it.

The urge to take out the phone was uncomfortable, and I let myself sit there and be uncomfortable. I didn’t take the phone out and I tried not to fight the feeling but just to accept that this was how I felt. That in itself is a difficult skill to master, sitting with an uncomfortable feeling and not doing anything to change it.

What this showed me is that my phone addiction is perhaps greater than I’d realised.

Now that I’m back on deck, it’s time to take this a bit further and turn it into one of the habits I track.

 

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