I had a problem and yet I knew that I was not the only one. I went into Facebook to send a message to someone. Instead of sending the message, I was in the news feed for a good 15 minutes to then log out, realizing that I did not do what I originally intended to do. I was shocked at how easy it is to go unconscious on social media. I logged in again, accomplishing my mission by completing that message and sending it off.
I noticed an increase in social media use after my cat’s death. This distraction was normal and okay for a short amount of time because it helped me cope. It was a good way to numb out the intense feelings of loss and grief. As an empath, I feel a lot and deeply. Perhaps you can begin to see that this type of social media checking is not all bad because it would be too overwhelming to process grief/loss all at once.
There comes a time when you and I need to face the music; meaning we need to sit with the feelings, deal and heal. When is that time? The time is when you or others become aware of what you are doing and are no longer comfortable with it. If you do not notice your over usage, you may hear comments from family or friends. Not only can it cause problems in relationships, the longer you avoid your feelings, the more disconnected you become to your own soul and that of the Divine.
Social Media Boundaries
I am not here to tell you what the proper boundaries are for you concerning social media. I believe that you as much as I already know that answer. Trust your instincts, get off social media and do something else. What I will do is share some definite warning signs to be aware of. Many of these can be applied to abuse and addictions behaviors of all kinds.
- If you spend more time with your nose in your phone than talking to your significant other or family.
- If you need to check social media first thing in the morning, all throughout the day and last thing before bed.
- When your friends’ social media responses or lack thereof starts affecting your mood in negative ways; anger, depression and sadness.
The Psychology Behind this Habit or in Some Cases this Addiction
When any habit gets rewarded, it increases the likelihood of you doing it again. Every notification, like, reaction and share reinforces our social media checking behavior. Guess what? When you are stressed you rely more on your habit system as a way to feel in control. It is understandable why during times of high stress; grief, loss, unemployment or illness an increase can be found with social media use. Even positive stress can trigger an increase in usage such as a move to a new home, new job or a book release.
Here is the kicker, the reward does not even have to feel pleasurable in order to repeat it. This is what happens in all addictions. Clients tell me I don’t even enjoy using yet I can’t stop; why is this happening? When you repeat a behavior, the brain gets rewarded with a release of a chemical called dopamine. This dopamine sends a signal within your brain that says whatever you just did, do it again regardless of whether it has a positive or negative outcome. This creates a compulsion to repeat that behavior.
How do you get out of this behavorial loop? You need to slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and then respond. Now you have the power to choose what you want to do next. For some it is shutting off notifications, deleting the app from your phone or taking days off from social media. If you continue to have difficulty, there is no shame in seeking professional psychotherapy.
The move from Mindless to Mindful Usage
Sit down and pick a goal for your social media use. Is it for fun, business or connecting with friends? Yes, it can be different each time you log in. Think before you post; what is the purpose of this sharing? Does it fit with my overall goal of social media use?
Notice your mood prior to logging in and stay aware of how it shifts and changes. Do you log in when you feel bored, alone, empty or to calm your nerves? When you feel stressed, aggravated or numb that is the time to log off. If you are using it to boost your self -esteem, remember the real work is within. Social media is a place to express not to impress. If you are trying to feed your ego, it is time to sign off.
When you are in the present moment, you are awake to what you are doing and what is happening. Anytime you notice your distraction, like I did in the opening paragraph, use it as a reminder to get back into your body and connect. After all, that is what we are truly searching for when we go online, an authentic connection. When you don’t find it online, make time to connect in more direct ways through meditation, prayer, phone calls or in person meetings.
More about Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empaths who want to recharge and refill their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others. As an intuitive psychotherapist and certified angel car reader she helps her clients find realistic life solutions that work whether it is health concerns, work or relationships. To get her FREE 10 page E- book, 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos Now visit www.lisahutchison.net