Can you imagine a day in your life where you were not interrupted?
I think I would jump with utter unbridled joy. I struggle with interruptions; it is almost as if my concentrating brain goes deep into those inner recesses and to pull out and view the world takes herculean efforts sometimes.
If I am deep in thought I find it an enormous challenge not only to engage with the nature of the interruption and accept it with grace, but also not to let my immediate emotion cloud my initial reaction (usually a hint of the grumps as I'm sure many of my dear work colleagues will have spotted 😉).
For many people home-working, life as we are now finding it really isn't without it's interruptions, they may just be a different flavour 'muuuuuum I've locked my brother in the shed because he was annoying me' to Holly on This Morning complaining about her partner and his over-zealous typing skills.
Phone calls, instant messenger, colleagues, loved ones calling for a chat to check in, zoom calls, pings and dings …Interruptions are our day! However, they are a great way of bringing ourselves into the moment – and to notice what arises for us when they do.
When we are feeling stressed or anxious our ability to handle these interruptions may lose an element of skill. We may find ourselves irritated, snappy and distracted – thereby giving the worst of ourselves in that moment. To add a further layer of challenge, we may also hit ourselves with a big stick for being so ungracious when you are knee-deep in a document that needs finishing and your favourite aunt calls for a chat!
So next time you are interrupted, or are the person interrupting someone else! I know, imagine that. Notice and feel that rise of irritation, frustration/stress – whatever is with you, and invite yourself to choose in that moment to take a pause and breathe out.
Use it as a chance to connect with yourself, to deepen your connections with people, to be kind toward yourself for whatever arises. To practice patience! What does patient look and feel like – where do you notice it in your body? What thoughts arise, and can you let them pass by without getting caught up in their story?
If you notice your unwillingness to engage with the interruption, what is unwillingness bringing to the party? The interruption has happened, so can you accept it, and be present?
Or if necessary to practice pushing back with kindness, and putting your needs into the mix 'thanks for calling to check in, it's great to hear your voice, I'm just finishing up this task which is consuming my focus right now but can I come back to you in half an hour?' for example. Even as I write that I am looking on in awe and wonder at the person that can do this! I struggle to put my needs first, so if you are like me this one may be a challenge. But that's where the magic happens, give it a bash, sit with the discomfort, ask yourself how discomfort looks and feels, and you start to notice there are small parts to it that don't feel as bad as you may think.
And if you are one of those chilled-zen types who has no negative reflex – use interruptions as a wonderful opportunity for momentary mindfulness, listen to the noise the ring of the phone makes, tune into how you feel when your loved one's name pops up on your phone screen, spend a little time in gratitude for them in your world.
Let me know how you find this practice.