An interesting word for today right? Well, It has not come about by accident. That’s just in case you were wondering. It was a word that came about through feedback. A person was described as one who got thoroughly immersed in any activity they performed. It was a compliment actually. I always like to think that once in a while it is interesting to get feedback about how we come across to others. This was definitely an exciting one. Until that point in the discussion, I would have never ever thought of describing the person in question as one who enjoyed being immersed in any activity. I was wrong because right now, the more I think about it, the more I find it to be an extremely suitable description.
So let’s turn to Merriam Webster my trusted side kick when it comes to defining terms. She offered me many definitions but the one that I thought was most suitable for the purpose of this discussion was the third definition. Here it comes…
I like that. For one to be described as having a tendency to be totally absorbed and involved in an activity must be a good thing. Right?
Personally, I like not only to do things but to experience them. To do something feels more external than experiencing it in my opinion. I like to watch how things make me feel when I do them. I like to be aware of how I form my opinion about the things I do based on how they make me feel as I do them. I also like to compare my feelings over time … how am I feeling about this now compared to how I felt previously? I can hardly participate in things without deploying all my senses. This creates a lot of internal dialogue which can sometimes be distracting.
Feel things from the heart don’t just be a partaker …
That’s like an unspoken motto of mine. But that also comes with its baggage. You see not all activities we perform make us feel anything to start with. Especially when they are in their infancy- when we first start to do them. When we are still learning to do them, it can be difficult to feel excited about them. It’s easy to think that someone possesses a mighty dose of absorbing involvement in an activity when they are enjoying what they are doing. This can lead to the assumption that this feeling occurs with every activity they participate in. It can even make us feel that we do not possess as much potential for being completely absorbed in the activities that we ourselves are involved in.
Well, not so my friend, not so….
That absorbing involvement you witness in others is expressed mostly when people perform enjoyable activities. There are many things that can distract us from experiencing the same level of absorbing involvement that we admire in others. I like to think of them as internal and external distractions.
Let’s start with the internal distraction. Do you remember how I told you earlier about how I need to experience and not just do things? Well, that’s a classic example of a potential recipe for distraction that originates from within. I cannot count how many activities I have been robbed of because I have been too impatient to allow myself hop over the learning hurdle and into the enjoyment phase. The need to immediately enjoy and feel can be a distraction from the whole process and objective of simply participating in many activities. In fact funny enough, many of the activities I am currently admired for were those that I learnt when I was very young. I have no real recollection of what the learning phase was like or the resistance I may have put up. I was very young when I acquired those skills and what’s more the responsibility for making sure I mastered them was not mine. My parents and teachers would take full credit for those. Writing, sewing, tidying up, playing an instrument, saying my prayers, reading my bible etc. With those skills, I hear people say I have super immersive tendencies.
Now that I am solely responsible for acquiring new skills to help me participate in new activities, I must confess to you that I have found myself as shamefully wanting as any one else. I cannot even learn to play the Wii with my son because I lack the patience to learn what all those buttons are for on the controller. Worse still, the functionalities keep changing with the games and I simply cannot keep up. What happened to just colouring or painting things? So you may see me doing things like that diligently and looking totally absorbed in those but don’t be fooled. I don’t enjoy or feel anything when I play the games because I cannot get myself to be patient enough to learn them. As a result, I safely stick with familiar patterns.
In order to reach a point of immersion in the activities we perform, we need to find ways to remove distractions and create a focusing environment in which the so- called activities we get involved in can thrive.Not many of us are able to kill all the noise and things that tend to push and pull us as we perform various activities. This leads to an inability to be absorbed or completely involved in them. In the end, we end up avoiding or even neglecting them.
This brings us nicely into the external reason for distraction which is mainly peer pressure. This distraction originates not just as a result of an internal distaste, lack of enjoyment or feeling for the activities we perform but from people whose feelings we put before ours. In trying to please them, we compromise on our personal desires regarding the activities in question. The need to yield to these external peer pressures also fuel the need for conformity. This means that many activities we will ordinarily participate in, enjoy and become immersed in may suffer as we neglect them to make room for the ones other people ask us to do.
This is not always a bad thing because we are not perfect either. We also have to exist alongside others. Although some activities we perform are orchestrated by them, we will hardly participate in them if there was absolutely nothing in it for us. They may also be for our benefit as much as it is for them. Our brains are there to help us analyse the suitability of different activities. It is good to have an absorbing involvement in activities but not to the extent that we create an island within which we alone exist while our friends, families, colleagues, peers and so called pull forces in our lives are ignored. We do not exist in a vacuum.
By accepting listening to this description of my friend I have now become more aware of this unconscious tendency that we sometimes possess to varying degrees. Now with a note of caution to self, I am keen to make finding the balance rank high on my agenda and so should you. It’s a bit like the introvert extrovert argument. Who is better? Well, they are as bad as each other until they find the right balance. The point at which they feel more able to switch in and out of those tendencies to suit the contexts they find themselves in should be more desirable.
So ….once again…that word …. Immersive.
Are you sometimes immersive and absorbed in the activities you perform?
Thank you for reading
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