Historically, the phrase going down the rabbit hole or falling down the rabbit hole, is defined as a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or troublingly) surreal state or situation.
The phrase going down the rabbit hole has come to mean entering into a new and strange place or situation. It can be used to describe experiencing something surreal or fantastical, or even just something that takes you out of your normal, everyday life.
Today, on the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extraordinarily engrossing and time-consuming topic.
Let’s assume it is something wonderful, like researching your dream vacation spot. You start by reading about the history; then you move on to reading about the culture and customs, then you find yourself looking at pictures and videos of the beautiful scenery. Next thing you know, it’s been two hours, and you’ve barely scratched the surface!
Perhaps going down the rabbit hole is an excellent choice, especially for artists, writers, creative people, etc. Many advertising and marketing firms set aside special time to “go down the rabbit hole” or if you prefer, “brainstorming.” It allows them to explore their imaginations and create new and wonderful things.
Unfortunately, it can also be a great way to procrastinate! Trust me, as a writer, I am certainly prone to it!
Rabbit hole in creativity and innovation
Let’s go back to that idea of going down the rabbit hole being a great thing, especially for creative people.
If you’re a creative person, you’ve probably dealt with the following problem: You get so engrossed in the creative process that you find yourself slipping away from reality. Although this might sound like a minor problem in the big picture of life’s problems, but for creatives, it can suck up all of our time and leave us mentally and physically drained. So then what happens to me is that I start procrastinating, which is a hug, time sucker!
I often end up unsatisfied with everything I’m creating, overanalyzing, and ending up with nothing after working multiple hours. A friend sent me this flow chart a while back to help me with my procrastination problem:
Flow chart for procrastination
1. Do something right now
3. Do it anyway
It made me both laugh and get inspired. I use this “chart” when I find myself procrastinating. The following are some tips for helping to stay out of the rabbit hole and/or procrastination trap:
- Stop what you’re doing: Easier said than done, I truly understand! Set timers and find the balance that works best for you on how long and when to stop.
- Do something physically active: Physical activity goes to the wayside when we get too caught up in creative works. Move a muscle; change a thought!
- Give yourself time to process: Being creative does not always follow an exact time or pattern, and the process can move slowly. So taking that time away just might be the push you need to get through that “stuck” spot.
- Do something intellectually stimulating: If I can catch myself before falling into that rabbit hole, I intentionally pause and move on to do something else more stimulating.
- Revisit your work: Walking away always works for me. In writing, in learning a new musical piece, in creating a presentation, etc., once I step away for a period of time, I revisit my work with a fresh, clear mind.
What is Rabbit Hole thinking?
We’ve all been there. It’s that moment when something challenging, frustrating, painful, or just plain confusing happens, and you suddenly realize you’ve been sitting there analyzing and dwelling on it for a half hour. Your mind’s Inner Antagonist has sucked you down the rumination rabbit hole.
In the story “Alice in Wonderland,” one day, Alice was sitting by a river when she saw a white rabbit run by her. She followed the rabbit into a hole and found herself in a strange place called Wonderland. Wonderland was full of peculiar creatures like talking animals and playing cards that came to life.
Alice had some fantastic adventures in Wonderland, but eventually, she wanted to go home. So she found the rabbit hole, climbed back up, out of Wonderland, and back into the real world.
But rabbit holes can also be much more troubling than wonderful as portrayed in the movies. Some people with mental health issues have an especially hard time with this. They must conscientiously make an effort NOT to go down the rabbit hole because they tend to go dark when they go there “alone” in their own head.
Depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts can make going down the rabbit hole terrifying. There’s a saying that people in recovery say about going down the rabbit hole, “Your mind is a dangerous neighborhood. Do not go on there alone!”
And then there are the conspiracy theorists who go down rabbit holes of their own making, never to be seen again by the light of day. Suppose you’ve ever debated with one of these folks. In that case, you may have discovered that it is impossible to reason with these people because they are so far down the rabbit hole that they will believe anything, and it doesn’t matter how absurd it is.
What mental disorder does Alice in Wonderland have?
The White Rabbit has General Anxiety Disorder, “I’m late,” and the tiny Alice is afflicted with Hallucinations and Personality Disorders. The Cheshire Cat is schizophrenic because he vanishes and reappears throughout the narrative, distorting reality around him, leading to the breakdown of other characters in the tale, and driving them mad.
The Queen of Hearts is wounded by egotism and narcissist syndrome, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar by drug addiction, and the Mad Hatter simply because he’s insane. For ten years, at 6 p.m., he repeats in an obsessive-compulsive way the “celebration of our beloved Unbirthday.” He has no sense of time as he continues to grow older.
What happens when you go down a rabbit hole?
In conclusion, going down a rabbit hole can be adventurous and fun but also dangerous for some people. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and don’t stay down there for too long! It can be a great escape from the mundane reality of everyday life.
But it is important to remember that, like anything else, moderation is key. Too much of anything is never a good thing. So if you find yourself going down the rabbit hole, just be aware and make sure you come back into the light quickly!