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You can lose your true self in information overload

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First, I do not have a rotary phone, my internet connection isn’t dial-up and I’m not still listening to cassette tapes (although, I may still have some). I am moving forward with the information and technology age, but in my way. I use what is necessary and helpful for what I do. That being said; I try to beware of the tsunami of useless information that is flooding our lives.

Two good reasons for developing this awareness are 1) being able to maintain a clarity in thinking and decision making and 2) help in staying connected to your true self.

I hear from coaching clients, and read in blogs and forums, about decision and indecision on issues in the yachting world. Discussions like, “should I stay or should I go?”, “what should I do about this captain,” or “how do I handle this crew member’s behavior?” Others are thinking about what to do after working on a yacht.

The list is extensive and two of the best tools for dealing with a host of issues are clarity and staying connected to your true self. I have worked with people through this process and have seen enough proof of positive results to confirm this.
So, what does this have to do with information overload? Well, what I can state is in my study, research and working with clients, a distracted mind struggles and many times these days, it is distracted by information overload. Too much Internet, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texting, it’s simply too much. It’s like your life is one big game of Trivial Pursuit.

There is a big difference between information and knowledge. All this information, my friend, is not making you wiser, more insightful or more compassionate. On the contrary, it can stifle all those valuable character traits and it happens in a constant stream of other people’s opinions, judgments and negativity.
Add a barrage of advertising and slick marketing and our minds are suddenly binging on a diet of junk food for the mind.

It should come as no surprise then that when you need to decide some things for yourself, you may not even know who “yourself” is anymore. I have seen perfectly intelligent, competent, lovely people; stuck, overwhelmed and overloaded.

They can barely stay afloat in a sea of useless information.

Sensory overload is a powerful thing and we do it to ourselves. We cause a paralysis from over-analysis. The good news is it can be undone. But, you need to open the levee and let some of this stuff go.
Like this quote from historian, professor and writer, Daniel Boorstin, “technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge”. What can happen in this fog is that our connection to who we really are and what we truly want goes wandering. Your radar gets shut down.

So, who or what is this true self I am talking about? It is the part of you down a little deeper, the part unaffected by the noise and distractions. The true self is beyond the chatter, the opinions and the judgments of others. It’s below the surface and lots of folks don’t want to or have forgotten how to dive. It is a place of clarity and calm. We all possess it, and in this “information age” it is the most powerful and valuable gift to remember we have been given.

When facing decisions, be they career, personal or relationship; being true to thyself is still the key. It will move you past many a hurdle. But, you must know who thyself is.

All this is not reluctance or railing against technology, rather a reminder. We get so busy, we get so caught up, and yes, so distracted, that we need reminders. I find myself there as well.

What I also find in coaching and writing is that I’m often offering up reminders. Plenty of people know this stuff I write about, but it gets lost.

So, I like to remind. I also hear from people who are just getting introduced to some of these concepts and are open and interested. And that’s great. I encourage exploration for the mind. But here is just one more reminder; explore for knowledge not just information.

Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

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