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On Becoming Anti-Social and More Connected!

7 months and counting! Feels like I’ve overcome an addiction - probably because it is. There are many sources out there giving us the science behind what social media is doing to our brains, mental health and society. How the dopamine hits impact us and how the algorithms manipulate our feed, sending us the content aligned with our interests to keep us scrolling. (See the 2020 docudrama on Netflix titled The Social Dilemma.) Studies even show how much we agree it isn't good for us, for our children, for our productivity, yet, it is HARD-TO-STOP! I decided I needed to call it quits - again. I was finding chunks of my day gone. Time to take a social media break. This was, at least, my third time removing the apps from my phone to prevent the mindless scrolling I would lose myself in daily. I had tried different approaches, too. Burying the apps in a file titled FASTING to help me stay away, adding more steps to access them. My fingers just figured it out, would go through the steps automatically and I'd find myself back, scrolling again. Setting the app timers to limit use to 20 minutes, seemed like a good idea. Know what happens when you hit that timer limit? It asks you if you need 10 more minutes, which of course, I always did. Then another 10 would lead to another 10 and you see the issue, maybe you've lived the issue?

 

October 2023, I uninstalled all the social media apps from my phone. I kept access on my computer just in case someone was attempting to reach me. Although, it should be noted I rarely spent time on social media via my computer as, luckily, I don’t spend all that much time on a computer to begin with. How’d it go? There was a real sense of withdrawal at first, FOMO - fear of missing out is real. In fact, it is the leading cause for youth to keep scrolling. They say if everyone would stop they'd be game for stopping but since everyone is doing it they have to, too. (Check out anything by Jonathan Haidt, author of The Anxious Generation. I’ve listened to him on several podcasts.) After 2 weeks, I visited fb to see if I had any notifications I needed to acknowledge. Outside of missed posts, there was nothing directed specifically to me. A relief, and a realization I wasn’t really missing out. A month later, and again since then, showed me similar results.


Feeling less fearful of missing out, feeling success in overcoming this addiction and feeling far more connected, I thought I'd share with you my experience of disengaging from social media.

I became aware I’d reach for my phone out of habit when those moments of boredom would happen. On second thought, it wasn't boredom. It was just a pause in the busyness of my day, or maybe when a pause was needed? A point in my day where a pick-me-up or a moment to numb-out was appreciated. These are not bad things, I just let them get out of control. It would feel so good to step away into the positive and encouraging posts, and the dopamine hits, that I'd scroll a little more, and more. I’d enjoy a few posts, even be enlightened, then by the 5th, or 10th, I’d forget everything I’d seen prior and they no longer had any real meaning, just another hit. Time would escape me and I would then have to make adjustments to my day or my expectations of productivity. Now having nothing on the phone to go to in those moments I’d take some deep breaths and lean into the pause instead of seeking to numb it. I figure I’ve gained back about 10 hours a week. What would you do with 10 extra hours? Or even just one more hour a day? What did I want to use this new found time for? How did I want to be on the other side of this threshold? I re-committed to doing my inner work, including more time in nature with me and for me. I got re-engaged with my vision for Your PATH Coach and how it can be a gift in our world. I started taking action steps rather than pushing things off to tomorrow.


One major benefit of my unplugging - my creativity is back! Boredom is the birthplace of creativity. When we drop into that scrolling feed during those low points or pauses in our day and allow the posts of others to fill our minds it prevents us from being the creative beings our world needs us to be. Instead of allowing boredom, we are numbing. Joanna Macy says, “We have no future if we choose to numb.” Feeling the desire for true connection, I started reaching out to fellow coaches, to friends I missed spending time with and started seeking collaborative opportunities and reconnections. Following the pull for knowledge and awareness I started listening to audiobooks and podcasts, joined book circles and support groups. Making new connections by reaching out in areas of my life I want to grow in, seeking mentors to walk my path with me. The Nature Practices for Self Discovery retreat my friend and fellow coach Joelle and I are offering on June 15th would never have come into being if I was still socially engaged. Several other offerings are also in the works. Watch for an upcoming 8 week program on transforming within a Harmony Spiral Course, free Wonder Wander Pop-ups all summer and a Work That Reconnects / Active Hope offering this fall!


Wondered why I envied those who did not have social media accounts, yet could not understand how they lived their lives without them - now I know and am embracing that that way is not my path. Of course, with all change it doesn't take much to relapse, as the old patterns are strong. A favorite from our boys growing up years… “Why do we fall down? So we can pick ourselves back up!” Yes, thank you Batman.


Ultimately, my decision to become anti-social was a choice in support of my mental health. Unplugging has provided me with true connection and has been instrumental in my pursuit of living into my personal accountability to harmony - my PATH! 


My goal through Your PATH Coach, where PATH stands for personal accountability to harmony, is to guide seekers through healing and nature connection to living into their fullest expression. What would living in a state of harmony mean to your life, loved ones and world? Let's connect and see how we might journey together along your path.

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