July 13, 2014

Social Media, Anger & Mindfulness: Making Better Choices.

man chair sitting relax discomfort

I’ve dealt with anxiety and low grade depression for most of my life.

I am a very sensitive person.

Pictures and news stories depicting child and animal abuse send me into a spiral of emotional turbulence and it eventually required medication to deal with.

When I became ill (massive heart failure), the ills of the world became what my mental life circled around.

I was unable to focus on the singing birds, the spring flowers, the baby deer that would nest in the tree line in my back yard; I was unable to be fully present with my daughter who was just learning what life was.

Eventually I found my way back home to Buddhism and the path of mindfulness.

It was a profoundly moving home coming and one that helped me change my life in ways that I cannot begin to fully and articulately share. That being said, the cushion was not the full medical process that I needed in order to heal.

Years later, I have made a full recovery of my health and after continued therapy and meditation; I am also free of anxiety medications. This isn’t to say that I am 100 percent better, though.

Having to leave Facebook this past week showed me, however, that the tools of choice and will have a profound influence on my well being.

As luck would have it, the myth of things coming in threes seemed to support itself in my life. I went on to my Facebook feed and like absurd and cruel clockwork, the first thing to greet my eyes each time, was a picture or a video of an abused child or group of children.

I realized quickly that the feelings of anxiety, my triggers of doubt in the world, are still lingering. That slippery slope of wanting seclusion and to pull myself away from everyone and everything surfaced seemingly overnight.

I went outside to collect myself yesterday and there was that small adorable reminder of that part of life I refuse to see when I am shrouded in my own anger and self pity—new and innocent life.

Two baby deer were sleeping, curled up next to each other, only steps away from my patio doors. White spots graced their soft fur and the big eyes so filled with the promise of life and happiness when their mother came strolling back into view.

I decided that instead of pulling away from myself, I would remove the obsessions that I use as triggers to fuel my anger.

Instead of constantly looking at my feed to pass the time, I have been able to sit with myself instead.

I have been able to be patient with the world that flows around me and to partake in the joyous moments that do exist.

I am not saying that social media is the worlds new evil. I have made many friends via Facebook, who I have been able to meet in real time and in real life. Many coffees have been shared because I accepted a new friend request.

The choice that I made was to better regulate my habitual behaviors. To see my choices clearly as habits feed delusions. So, whether it is negative news for me or negative relationships for you, our happiness so often stems from the choices in our behavior.

So next time you want to tune out from life, maybe the better choice is to truly tune in.



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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Pixoto

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