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Managing Multiplicity in Today’s Digital World

July 7, 2016  Posted in: Articles & Media, Getting Help From LAP, How To's, Stress Reduction

Living the reality of 21st Century digital world has given us new and novel expanded platforms on which to conduct our daily tasks and provided us with unexpected association and insights into new ways of thinking and problem solving. In fact a paradigm shift has occurred that challenges us to transform from our more traditional forms of thinking as set out by the classical principles defined by Plato and Aristotle, to more flexible and adaptive ones that embrace the fact that everything is constantly changing and reality is a “becoming”. It is no longer true that what is “is”.  The term “multiplicity” which was initially used to describe phenomena of mathematics was adopted as a philosophical term by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995).  He used the term to describe thought phenomena that are in constant flux. He defined multiplicity as “an entity that originates from a folding or twisting of simple elements. Like a sand dune, a multiplicity is in constant flux, though it attains some consistency for a short or long duration. A multiplicity has porous boundaries and is defined provisionally by its variation and dimensions.” (http://www.sage-ereference.com) Deleuze maintained that it was the contemporary philosopher’s job to break from the singular Platonic linear framework of thinking which codified the common sense belief that human concepts match up with the simplicity we observe in nature.

The benefit of our newly evolving digital world has created the global economy which has delivered expanded opportunities for many. The burden of our new reality is that we now have increased global migration and market instability along with anxiety, depression, and stress related to job insecurity and the acceleration of demands in the workplace. Our new reality triggers the constant flux of our thought processes. With more information coming at us faster than we can process, we can easily become overwhelmed and overthink the reality of our situation. Never in history has the human brain been forced to track so many data points. Over-conceptualization and overthinking results in our nervous system being stuck in a loop of negativity and discouragement. The simultaneous release of stress hormones and adrenaline can result in health problems and even possible short-term memory loss. This can sustain sadness, impair problem solving, sap our motivation and interfere with concentration. It can seriously impair our productivity and foster negatively biased thinking. Those who overthink also attribute negative evaluations of self with negative events. This often leads to anxiety and depression.

Break the cycle of over-conceptualization and rumination by detaching from the overstimulation of the problem. To accomplish this and stop the spinning of thoughts, you have to connect with your breath in order to “reset” your body system so that you integrate your sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight and freeze or flee), and your parasympathetic nervous system (relax, reflect, respond). As you begin to bring your breath more deeply into your diaphragm and calm down, the connection with your deeper breathing brings your integrative function of the cognitive functioning of your brain on-line. This helps you self-regulate emotions without getting lost in them. Once you have grounded and centered yourself, check in with yourself using the HALT model. Ask yourself, am I feeling this sense of confusion and frustration because I am hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Or could it be all four?

If the HALT rubric does not provide you with a reasonable explanation, ask yourself if you are engaging in too much multi-tasking. The latest empirically validated research makes it clear that multi-tasking simply does not work. It actually reduces productivity and the ability to concentrate, focus and complete tasks. This leads to a negative impact on job fulfillment, and reduces IQ. In fact, a research study funded by Hewlett-Packard and conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that “Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers”. It is estimated that extreme multitasking and information overload costs the U.S. economy $ 650 billion a year in lost productivity. (Cited by Christine Rosen, senior editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society www.TheNewAtlantis.com.)

In order to handle the burdens of the new digital reality of our lives, we have to create and maintain protective techniques that enable or use a singular focus. In addressing a problem; 1. It is important to be attuned to the event or situation from which the problem arose. 2. Then observe your “self talk” or the story you told yourself about what was going on at the time. Did you have any distorted perceptions, assumptions, mistaken beliefs or self-defeating behaviours around the situation? Challenge those mistaken thoughts and reframe the story. 3. Name the specific emotions that bubbled up in the course of the occurrence. What were your physical and behavioural responses to the situation? Where in your body were you holding tension? Breathe, relax and calm yourself. 4. Then identify the possible alternative ways of dealing with the problem and develop an action plan of solutions and possible alternatives. This process takes work and practice. Be easy on yourself and persistent in your practising.

Here at the Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia we are available to assist you through Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Cognitive-Based Strategies, Problem Solving and Communication Techniques, and Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries. We confidentially assist you with integrating your thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way and assist with helping you engage with tasks in a productive manner. We also assist with issues associated with anxiety, depression, stress, and addictions that often stem from the overwhelming demands of today’s business world.

If you would like to speak to a LAPBC counsellor on a strictly confidential basis, contact us at 604-685-2171, or toll-free, 1-888-685-2171, or email us at info@lapbc.com.

 


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