Consciously following rabbit holes

“Following something that appears to be a distraction is not a waste of time, if—and it’s a big all-caps IF—you can do it consciously.” ~Havi Brooks

Havi Brooks, of The Fluent Self, made the statement above in her blog post for today entitled Follow the rabbit holes. She encourages the conscious pursuit of rabbit holes because these so often turn out to hold messages from our subconscious selves that wind up leading us in new directions or feeding our creative juices at critical moments. (The entire post is well worth reading.)

I must confess that I have a thing about rabbit holes.

On the one hand, I can find myself drawn to them like a child to candy. I simply can’t get enough. It’s part of what draws me to my love of online research—I can travel profitably from one rabbit hole to the next on my quest for useful knowledge. It’s what makes reading and learning and used book stores such a delight. I never know what I might encounter next!

On the other hand, I have an inner tyrant who cracks the whip and reminds me of my need to focus on “important” things every time I am tempted to follow a new rabbit hole that’s tugging at my heart. This inner tyrant has watched me fritter away enormous amounts of time and energy on tangents that have amounted to nothing and wishes to see me use my resources more effectively. That is commendable and helpful to a point, but it often leaves me feeling guilty and distracted as I slink off toward yet another rabbit hole I’ve found after denying myself for too long.

So the problem is that I either mindlessly indulge in my mania for rabbit holes or I deny myself hoping to be more productive. The missing key in all this is following the rabbit hole consciously. Not denying myself or withholding my impulses when I feel that inner pull toward something new, but also not allowing myself endless time to mindlessly wander off the path either.

I love the idea that productivity can be about play and enjoyment rather than all strain and fighting with myself. I am weary of spending so much effort trying to squelch my natural tendencies and enthusiasm. It’s often in the moments of loosening that best breakthroughs occur.

I also love the idea of setting limits around the rabbit hole to keep this tendency in check. Goodness knows that I can get lost in rabbit holes for hours on end, if I’m not careful. Setting time limits is a wonderful way to keep my indulgence in balance.

I love the idea of actively following the rabbit hole in a mindful manner, looking for the gift to which my subconscious is trying to lead me rather than floating along obliviously. It fits well with awareness and being present to the moment that I continue to try to bring to my life. It also honors my work to continue to learn to listen to my inner promptings.

Finally, I acknowledge (with much chagrin) her warning that being able to consciously follow rabbit holes online is something that requires advanced skills and practice. I am continuing to work to limit my time online and to make the time I do spend here more productive. This is definitely a place where time limits and carefully focused rabbit hole following is essential for me.

Even with the warnings, I am excited and encouraged to work toward giving myself the freedom to consciously and actively follow the rabbit holes that beckon to me without guilt or fighting or resistance. I look forward with great anticipation to relearning how to productively play!

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.

2 thoughts on “Consciously following rabbit holes

  1. I LOVE rabbit holes! They totally rock, especially if they have Mad Hatters at the bottom.

    And the veering between avoiding them completely and overindulging…oy vey. YES. Suddenly, you’d think I’d deprived myself of chocolate for a year, and suddenly, my face is smeared in it and I’m holding a giant bag of my favourite candy bars!

    I love how she sees them as not necessarily a distraction, but *as part of our paths* and perhaps even a shortcut if we follow them mindfully. I guess what I really want to do is tease apart when it’s a mindless distraction – which for me, might be something like avoiding real self-development work or a painful issue – and when it’s a new perspective/shortcut/real way forward. That kind of discernment must take a lot of trial and error, which (I have to admit) I hate.

    Or maybe it’s just listening to that inner voice/intuition. xx

    • Thanks for sharing, Irim. I’m glad you found Havi’s post helpful!

      I am hoping that the time limit idea will help me with the discernment of whether a particular rabbit hole is mindless distraction or useful new perspective. I think that for me having that limited time to dip into something in a focused way might help me do this better. Time and practice will tell whether that’s true, though.

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