Whole self counselling conversations often turn to how we’re using social media these days. Many clients want to talk about their use of social media and how it’s impacting their day-to-day lives, for the better, and at times, for the worse.
This is just to say, if you notice that you’re comparing your social life, your business, your products, your services, or your lifestyle to others on Instagram or Facebook and feeling bad as a result, just know that you are not alone. Most people are doing that. It goes with the territory.
It’s not a “bad” thing, to make comparisons between yourself and others. It’s more just an “automatic” thing. Social media is so new, really, that we simply haven’t had the time to integrate it “fitfully” into our everyday lives. In other words, to “automatically compare yourself to others” might just be a bit “1950s”. Perhaps we can think of “comparing ourselves to others” as a kind of hangover from times past when marketing was geared towards “keeping up with the Jones’s” – bigger car, bigger house, better life.
It might not be that way, anymore, not in this day and age of “be yourself” and “be unique”. There is freedom, in this. A lot of the messages we get these days are good, and we can take them up, and live into the messages that align with our values and work for us. It’s funny, though. On the one hand we can be so free, individual and unique, and on the other: so curtailed, self-conscious and almost paralyzed.
And, it remains the case that: we are sensitive, us humans. I often wonder if it’s true, when people say, “I have a thick skin”. For the most part, from what I’ve experienced of human nature, people are generally quite sensitive: and this is a good thing, isn’t it. Sensitivity keeps us agile and responsive to our environments, keeps us honed, awake and tuned-in – all of which are life-enhancing, and potentially life-saving abilities. Who wants to be unresponsive, unmoved and insensitive – about as lively and happening as those concrete dividers in the middle of the highway?
We are designed to be sensitive. So, we need to take our sensitivity into account, to acknowledge it. If we’re sensitive, and we are, then “boundaries” becomes a thing. Personally establishing, and maintaining, our own boundaries. Most articles you read about social media say the same thing: it’s not the social media that is the issue, it’s “how you use it”. Same with alcohol, the Internet, sugar, credit cards, Netflix, lottery tickets, other substances, other processes. Every “thing” is innocent, and: “it’s all on you – how you USE it”.
Anything that involves a dopamine hit – like getting Likes on Facebook – can get you hooked, depending on how you use it. There seems to be no free lunch when it comes to dopamine: if you want to partake of it’s sweet hit, you have to shore up your boundaries, to ensure that you are the one, always, running your own show. Social media is no exception. Using it in a life-enhancing way requires you to galvanize your personal sense of self and how you set, and maintain, your boundaries. Strengthening your prefrontal cortex helps. Keeping your body healthy and strong, helps. Social media is the horses, and you are the one holding the reins.
What IS your relationship with social media, and with technology, overall? How are you doing in this area of your life? How can whole self counselling make a positive difference to your daily experience? I am sure that you have some clear ideas about the quality of life you are living – and/or would like to be living. What do you notice about your ability – or lack of it – to focus? To what degree is distraction disrupting your day? When you imagine living into a life, day to day, that works better for you – what do you see?
Imagine the kind of person you would be if you consistently channeled your focus into your own arenas of choice. How productive, how satisfying that would be. See the others in your life that engage with you day-to-day. What difference does it make to them when you are less caught up online and more available for quality connection?
These are your hours, your days. How do you want to be living them?