I took the month of July off from social media.
It had been a long time since I had unplugged. I would like to tell you that I used all those moments that had been taken up by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram to practice yoga, meditate, spend quality time with my family, and so on—and, yes—I did do those things.
What was also revealed was an old pattern of escapism. It is a part of my personality that I have some shame around. I’m proud of the parts of me that dive right into tough emotions, the complicated stuff in life, and that I can stay 100 percent present both to myself and others. I like this me, and this me receives tons of validation for doing the hard emotional lifting.
We all have our outer persona—the face that we put on publicly. This was precisely what I was tired of with social media. I was tired of the posturing with others and by myself. I was tired of the righteousness of who is right and who is wrong. I wanted to let all of that go and do a deep dive into my spiritual world of bliss. And the universe laughed.
Sure, I had moments of joy, connection, and forgetting that the challenging world of 2020 existed. But reality came screaming back in, as I was surrounded by mask-wearing people; or sitting with my daughter’s heartbreak about not going back to school in person; or dealing with my own fear about parts of my business. Getting off social media did not make COVID, racial injustice, or politics disappear as I had wished.
Everything was still there, including my pattern of escapism.
Instead of scrolling, I found myself spending more time binge-watching shows or movies. I still wanted it all to disappear. And if I’m being honest, I wanted my emotions to disappear. I wanted my thoughts to quiet—the type of quiet that can happen in meditation, but unfortunately is not guaranteed. I rationalized that binge-watching was harmless. I reasoned that forgetting everything and enjoying a movie is wonderful—and it is until it is used again and again as an avoidance tool. And I was doing just that.
I’m a fan of the 80/20 rule. My query to myself is, can this rule of doing the “right thing” 80 percent of the time be mixed with an addictive behavior 20 percent of the time. And yes, binge-watching shows or scrolling through Facebook is an addiction. We are not all addicted. Just like we are not all addicted to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. I know when something is a problem. You know when something is a problem. We know.
We know when the unwanted behavior is there to mask, avoid, forget, and numb. It takes great courage to peek under the carpet of our own behaviors. I might desire to do the heavy lifting, but sometimes it touches places so old, so wounded that who would not want to run away?
I do not have any miracle answer, but here are things that I find work for me:
Do you notice that when we hide something, it grows in intensity? It becomes bigger and bigger in our minds.
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” ~ Brené Brown
This is the antidote—share your behavior, your story with those whom you love and trust.
Put things on your calendar that are life-affirming to you. For me, it’s scheduling a walk or a phone call with a friend. This locks me in.
There are probably a thousand different ways to find support. Find what works for you: acupuncture, yoga, psychotherapy, AA, support groups of any kind, forest-bathing, energy healing, chiropractic, spiritual retreat, coaching, and more.
I believe that beneath many of our undesirable behaviors is a deep need for love and connection. Unfortunately many of us, for various reasons, feel unconnected, unloved, unlovable, or unworthy. The behavior does not bring us any closer to love, but for a hot second, we can forget our deep yearning for love, connection, and understanding. So the number four on my list is self-compassion.
Brené Brown says it so well:
“Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy.”
I would love to hear your tools. We are not alone and can learn so much from one another. We are all imperfect beings trying to do our best. We are loved, and worthy of love even when we think otherwise.
Love is our birthright, even when our behaviors and our shame seem to tell us otherwise.