January 25, 2017

Between Love & Anger: 5 Steps to De-escalate Social Media Madness.

Love trumps hate. We all know that.

Even the ones who we don’t agree with know that.

So why does my naturally loving self get so worked up when I see a social media post that screams intolerance?

It’s been a long time since I cared what people thought of me, yet I find myself caring what people think about politics a little too much.

When my blood starts boiling, the valve to my rational mind shuts off. I am aware of it. Even in the moment, I am painfully aware that I am ticked off at something that is no real threat to me, physically, spiritually or otherwise.

Through trial and error, and at times, through repeating errors, I have concocted a handful of steps that I walk through when the going gets tough.

Let it all out—to your local, state and federal government, that is.

We have vast resources at our fingertips and the ability to reach out and be heard like no other time in history.

Let’s make our voices heard to the officials whose offices are tallying constituents’ concerns.

Find, Like and Follow the social media pages of our leaders and make sure they know we are watching them. Our votes and concerns matter.

Here are five ways we can de-escalate social media madness:

1. Walk away.

When I am baffled by a comment that seems to create division and I am feeling deeply affected by it, I leave it. By moving my entire body (not just my fingertips) the blood moves back into my brain and I notice that I have allowed a few words to temporarily take control of my biology. I don’t want to live like that. So I take a walk, or dance, but I don’t leave a comment that buys further into the division.

2. Win the war, not the battle.

For me, part of living well is when I honestly let go of what I cannot control, and I am gentle with myself when I struggle. Life is continually about coming back to the breath. In times of great stress, I have occasionally forgotten to breathe and then suddenly let out the deepest exhale I didn’t know I was holding in. All we can do is breathe, move through our lives, and repeat.

3. Find and watch puppy videos, or if you have a pet, go pet it.

Pets can have a positive impact on us. The mere act of petting a dog or cat can lower stress hormones and actually be good for the animal too. My friends know they can share dog videos with me and I will gratefully watch them.

When the world is getting me down, there’s nothing like a short video of the awkward sleeping positions of dogs to instantly put a smile on my face.

4. Think of a person that triggers you, then wish them well.

Somewhere along the way I learned this phrase “I pray for the happiness of______.”

When I am feeling a lot of pressure and the release valve is again nowhere in sight, I pray out loud for the happiness of the person I am most focused on in the moment. And then I continue.

I pray for the happiness of myself, my neighbor, my client, my family.

I pray for the happiness of the policeman sitting in his car pointing a radar gun at me, the politician waving a sign, and even the 5:00 a.m. garbage collector.

Energy moves through us faster when we are moving, so I occasionally do this practice while driving. It’s incredible how many prayers I can fit while running errands.

In the immortal words of Alan Watts, “What is discord at one level of your being, is harmony at another level.”

5. Breathe, move through, repeat.


Author: Lori Stitt

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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