Attention Span Problems - Mind-wandering and Daydreaming Blog Post

The Most Common Source of Attention Span Problems and Distraction is...Imagination. Let's See Why.

The biggest source of distraction in modern society is non-medical in nature: simple human imagination, and has been the #1 cause of poor Attention habits throughout history.

The #2 cause of poor Attention habits, throughout history, is Mind-wandering, both of which we will explain shortly. We'll go over the nature of imagination, how it leads to distraction through perfectly innocent cognitive functions like Daydreams and Wandering Attention, how it destroys mental focus, and how to turn imagination from an obstacle to your Attention Span into its helpful friend. 

"When no other forms of distraction are bothering you, imagination ceaselessly carries on its unending activity, all of which demands mental resources that are rightly assigned - and belong to - your priority subject in that moment."
- T. Lavon Lawrence, Attention Span Training Expert

Why is Imagination the #1 Cause of Distraction and Wandering Attention Only the #2 Reason?

Because even if you manage to shut yourself off completely from external sources of distraction and tasked with simply breathing slowly, your imagination will still come at you with its usual cadre of mental malcontents in tempting efforts to lure you off the chosen Attention target.

When no other forms of distraction are bothering you, imagination ceaselessly carries on its unending activity, all of which demands mental resources that are rightly assigned - and belong to - your priority subject in that moment. Here are the usual list of suspects your creative ability de in its war to capture your notice:
  1. Chaotic, Unsummoned Thoughts - Imagination creates rising tides, whirlwinds, storms, and hurricanes of thought-based emotion-laced, reaction-causing content (impressions, memories, questions, worries, desires, regrets, fears, resentments, plots, plans, escapism, agendas, on and on, never ending...).

    Every rising tide, whirlwind, storm, and hurricane of thought-feeling in turn tends to initiate more thought-feeling content much like itself, always in an a doward spiral toward unhappy feelings, stress, and anxiety if not interrupted.

    Even when being caught up in thought feels entirely normal, like you're just doing your average daily thinking and and talking to yourself, the only reason it seems unremarkable is because you know of no other way for your mind to operate.

    As you begin training, you will see the truth of your so-called 'ordered mind,' with its inability to move in a straight line from A to B, and there find the motivation you need to do something about gifting your mind with true order.

    Attention Span Training is all about interrupting and breaking up imagination's status-quo dominance so that Attention - which is the concentration of your Awareness, begins its rightful march to the throne of Self-rulership.
  1. Daydreaming, Wandering Off into Thought, Escapism - Your brain despises boredom, yet because of undisciplined thinking, runaway imagination, and misdirected focus, it mistakenly CREATES BOREDOM where none exists. Once created (wired into the meat of your brain, and habituated into an ATTITUDE toward a thing), you have no choice but to UNCREATE your brain's boredom habit.

    Neuroscience reserach has PROVEN that people who daydream habitually lead unhappier lives. Otherwise, they wouldn't be addicted to mental escapism as a coping mechanism.

    The trick, then, is not that they are daydreaming because they are unhappy, but that they are creating unhappiness by daydreaming, which cultivates more need to escape in an Attention Span-harming spiral that can ruin your potential.
  2. Self-Talk, Inner Dialog, and Self-Conversation - You probably won't read this fact in Psychology circles, but the fact that you talk to yourself - communicate to yourself in thought, which actually sounds like an 'inner voice' to some people - all of it, that sensation that you are working out something as you chatter is your imagination, engaged, and operating.

    When either choosing a task or doing one because you must, any mental activity that draws you away from being fully connected with the task is distraction.

    Self-talk is distraction. Most people will simply refuse to believe it, and that's okay. Training will reveal all the facts you need to know about your Attention and what interferes with it, unnecessarily, and to the detriment of your own potential.

The good news is that with the kind of Attention Control Training featured here, you can have growing immunity from both the #1 and #2 historically problematic causes of a lousy Attention Span.

Your Imagination and It's Factory of Daydreams is Not the Friend it Seems.

Daydreaming  and Mind-wandering can negatively impact relationships and social interactions when it gets out of control, and by 'out of control,' we mean that daydreaming happens when it's no time for daydreaming, usually as a form of mental escapism to cope with a state of mental, emotional, or physical discomfort or discontent in the present moment.

Fantasizing and intentional 'mental wandering' into thought or inner dialog (or, typically, a combination of both) has its place in our recipe for psychological well-being, but too much of it can spell academic, career, and social calamity. When daydreaming turns into a living nightmare, we call it, "MALADAPTIVE DAYDREAMING," and it's a trap that's too easy to fall into. 

Maladaptive Daydreaming Destroys Your Attention Span.

Maladaptive daydreaming is a phenomenon in which individuals engage in vivid, prolonged, and often unrealistic daydreams that interfere with their daily activities and responsibilities.

While daydreaming can be a positive and useful tool for creativity and relaxation, maladaptive daydreaming can have a negative impact on an individual's overall quality of life.

Research has shown that maladaptive daydreaming can negatively affect every area of an individual's personal life. For starters, it can lead to social isolation, as daydreamers may prefer to be alone in order to indulge in their fantasies. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction, and a weakened sense of connection to others.

An addiction to daydreaming can also impact an individual's productivity and decision-making abilities. Excessive daydreaming can lead to forgetfulness, reduced concentration, and difficulty completing tasks. This can have a negative impact on academic or professional pursuits, as well as daily responsibilities at home.

In extreme cases, maladaptive daydreaming can lead to self-harm or harm to others. Negative daydreams involving harmful actions can become particularly concerning and dangerous. This is especially true for individuals who struggle with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Moreover, maladaptive daydreaming can also have long-term negative consequences. It can lead to a lack of motivation, decreased self-esteem, and difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. For example, maladaptive daydreaming can replace human interaction, leading to a further decline in social skills and emotional intelligence.

In conclusion, maladaptive daydreaming is a problem that negatively affects every area of one's personal life. It can lead to social isolation, reduced productivity, weakened decision-making abilities, and even harm to oneself or others. It is important to recognize the signs of maladaptive daydreaming and seek professional help if necessary.

Through Attention Control Training and Mindfulness (or other meditation form) a daydream sufferer can build the self-awareness and appropriate management techniques necessary to easily and quickly step out of even the most tempting, pleasant escapism in order to learn how to get more pleasure from reality.

When you have strong control of your Attention, reality feels so much better so that you have less need to run away into your own imagination.

Mental Meandering and Attention Span: Why Mind-Wandering is Wasteful.

Mind-wandering is when your thoughts shift away from the task at hand and become focused on unrelated topics.
 It is a common occurrence that can occupy up to 50% of the waking day and is often referred to as "daydreaming" or "fantasy." However, the preferred term is "mind wandering" as it unifies language and eliminates confusion.

Mind wandering is a spontaneous and unintentional shifting of attention from a primary task, and it can happen in varying degrees.

If it's intentional, it's not Mind-wandering, it's daydreaming, or, as they label it in the science research labs, "goofing off."

Unintentional mind-wandering is caused by the cognitive control system, precisely when the expected value of whatever the individual is doing decreases. So, boredom, or lack of stimulation.

Why is Mind-wandering such a problematic source of distraction? Lots of reasons.

While imagination is generally considered a positive attribute, uncontrolled mind-wandering and undisciplined imagination can negatively impact productivity and mental health. Some problems that can occur from habitual, undisciplined mental drifting include:

  • Decreased attention and memory retention.
  • Decreased productivity.
  • Higher dissatisfaction with mundane activities even if they are important.
  • Scientifically shown to cultivate negative emotions and decreased well-being during wandering incidents.
  • Impairs performance on cognitive tasks.
  • Linked to decreased happiness and increased stress.
  • Causes increased risk of accidents and errors in tasks such as driving.
  • Ruins social, academic, and business performance, increases chance of 'choking' in a performance.
  • Cause short-term adverse consequences such as increased 24-hour heart rate on the same day and difficulty falling asleep the subsequent night.
  • Individuals with mental health disorders may be more prone to mind-wandering and its detrimental effects on mood.

Mind-wandering can lead to impaired perception, lower cognitive performance, and greater unhappiness. Moreover, research suggests that a higher frequency of undisciplined mind-wandering episodes can have negative implications for mental health and cognitive performance in the long run.

Therefore, it is important to manage mind-wandering by recognizing when it occurs and refocusing attention if necessary.  

Turn Excess Daydreaming and Mindwandering into Unshakeable Mental Focus!

Using the many Attention Control Training Drills, Mental Concentration Training Drills, Mental Focus Training Drills, and Mindfulness Training Drills found here, you can begin to exercise the part of your brain that have control over your imagination, and even deeper parts of your mind that are completely immune to the desire to daydream, drift off, and waste life in empty delusions.