Behind the wheel, in the shower, in the kitchen or at the office, some of us can’t help but have a background sound. It could be the latest album from our favorite artist, a podcast episode or a cult movie. Anyway, this habit can have a psychological origin.
As Jenna Carl, clinical psychologist, points out to our colleagues at HuffPost (source 1), permanently living with background noise” can be used to repress unpleasant emotions and thoughts“. In other words, according to the expert, we seek to saturate our attention span by external stimuli not face reality.
If this technique may seem life-saving, it nevertheless establishes a vicious circle: the background noise relieves and limits distractions. So we end up not being able to do without it. And this mechanism can turn out to be unhealthy: “If you permanently avoid all forms of negative ideas, you reinforce your anxiety, because you push it away without even overcoming it“, warns Jenna Carl.
The importance of facing your emotions
No coping strategy is inherently “good” or “bad,” emphasizes Jenna Carl. But distraction must be used knowingly, sparingly. “It’s good to contain ruminative thoughts and worries, but you also have to know how to recognize the negative underlying emotions and approach them in healthy ways”, insists the psychologist.
Indeed, it is better to confront your feelings, rather than putting them in the closet. One of the most popular methods is mindfulness meditation, which allows you to embrace your emotions without passing judgment on them. “This method consists of labeling each negative or useless thought that runs through your mind to better tolerate it. And all this, by focusing on your breathing”, explains the psychologist. Other mindfulness activities can help, such as sophrology, knitting, coloring, etc.
If you feel able to confront your fears and anxieties, you can also bet on the cognitive restructuring, a technique that allows you to question your thoughts. Some people also manage to confront their fears by exposing themselves to them. “If a lot of your thoughts are worries, allow yourself to imagine the worst-case scenario,” Jenna Carl said. “Your anxiety decreases or disappears through repetition.”
In short, listening to a song, podcast, TV episode or TV show while working, driving or doing daily activities is often just a distraction. . But If you notice this urge taking hold of you when negative thoughts surface, take precautions.