Do you ever feel that itch to reach for your smartphone when you have spent a couple of minutes without having checked it?
I remember attending a conference (back in the day when we attended live conferences) where the organizer had a stringent “no cell phone” policy. It was written everywhere – on the agenda, on the welcome powerpoint slide, on the registration table. I must admit that I felt my fellow attendees and I were under war-like surveillance! I also remember thinking that there were likely penalties for infringing on the rule (like public humiliation if caught!), and I looked and looked all around the seminar hall for the cellphone police but couldn’t find them! “They must be undercover!” I thought.
Fifteen minutes into the presentation, the modern itch began. I define the modern itch as the nearly uncontrollable physical and emotional urge to reach for our smartphones when boredom presents itself ever so slightly.
The itch is a physical sensation. I first feel a pressure on the upper back right side of my head. Then my hands start patting my body in a desperate need to, at a minimum, feel the phone. As I locate the phone in my pocket and touch it, the itch diminishes, but by no means does it completely disappear.
The urge is overwhelming! My dark horse (the immediate gratification, indulging self) starts asking – What messages may have come in? What emails are now waiting for you? How did person X respond to your last email?
The dark horse tries to convince me that a little peak won’t hurt… that when no one is looking, I can place my cell phone under the tablecloth and no one will notice. But my charioteer reminds me of the signs and messages about the no cell phone policy, and this also reminds me that I wrote a book on the subject.
I mentally scan some of the strategies in my own book to help me self-regulate but somehow none immediately come to mind! I take a couple of deep breaths. Then I remember the Reappraisal strategy-- I paid to be hear and the message from the presenter is more valuable than any incoming messages. I also remind myself that the break is approaching. The urge subsides. Thank goodness for breaks (and for reappraisal)!
When we work from home, the modern itch seems to be even stronger, after all, no one is looking. We check our phones every 15 seconds or react to every incoming push notification. Your Dark Horse loves it. Make sure you also establish regular breaks, just as organizers do at conferences. And you might want to write out and post your own “no cell phone” signs around your home office, just to remind yourself not to give into the twitch to itch for your phone before your break time arrives.
Before I go... nothing better to focus your Dark Horse than some good 'ol Trance. Follow my playlist on Spotify: Dark Horse Tamed; Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7q3LC6VsoYPXr36zkwKmke?si=Ap9-31VZRpSpzbED7hHo6A
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