Take an inventory of your headspace
What is cluttering your mind today? What is taking up space that you need for other projects, other relationships or just space to breathe? It could be social media, it could be shopping, video games, anything. I will share that for me, I needed a Facebook break. Let me paint the picture of my addiction. I am one of those Facebook users who did a hard stop and then it crept back into my life again. I wasn't going on to post anymore but I would get caught up in my personal feed and "lurk" as they creepily call it. I had all sorts of justifications of why I "Needed" to check it:
- FOMO, being a big one.
- I have family all over the world and how would I ever keep up?
- Even with my friends locally, their lives are much more trackable in a way through FB since I can't keep up by phone in a reasonable way.
- I "Needed" to keep up on current events, especially in this infuriating political climate. How would I know the latest piece of warfare to take action on without it?
Yes, I had all sorts of reasons. But the truth is I needed a break more than I needed to stay on. And that took some mindfulness and authenticity to myself to figure out. You may not be in my situation. You may be like my husband who can use it only when he feels moved to and without getting caught up in emotions that may be harmful for him. But if you have an inkling that you are like me and need a break, you need to know that there is life on the other side. And if you don't have a social media account, you really can make this applicable to other areas of your life. I am just using this concrete example today.
There are usually some advantages to any habit we continue. And with Facebook as well, there are some tangible benefits. I have experienced those. A sense of belonging when we can be isolated in our homes, our lives. A sense of trust with communities when we share our feelings. I am experiencing ironically these now with a Facebook Gratitude Community I started with this blog. I am moved by the inner work members of the community are doing and then sharing. I am heart warmed by our ability to support each other. It really is a wonderful thing. And ironically, this community has allowed me to once again get off my personal Facebook feed. I have been able to get all of the positive benefits without getting sucked into a time warp of my personal feed which can leave me sometimes feeling empty. So now I just go on to this community page and nowhere else on Facebook and can honestly say my mood and spirits are lighter. So it's not that social media can't be helpful, if used in a way that serves you.
The neuroscience is starting to explore this phenomenon. There was a very small study using functional MRI with Facebook users and showed stimulation of similar brain centers we light up with substance and gambling addictions. This notes what a large "reward" we can get when we go on to check our feed. At the same time other studies have looked at the wellbeing and mood of regular Facebook users. A study last year replicated earlier studies that show people feel worse after Facebook use in terms of life satisfaction and even physical health. The really astounding thing to me was this was irrespective of how they used their feed.
Today is not the day I am going to try to interpret this data and say whether Facebook is "good" or "bad." I don't think it's that simple. What I do think is that there is a lot of information coming into our sensory awareness from so many sources. And it is our job to be mindful of what serves us and what does not. That is very personal.
And I don't have a randomized control trial to prove this, but I honestly think the only way to know if you need a break from something or not is to try your life without it and see what happens. If it is a social media account, take it off your phone even. Try to be on it less. Or just take a detox break for 2-4 weeks and see what it feels like.
I can tell you that I am grateful to be off my personal Facebook feed. I feel lighter and more importantly, like there is less clutter in my mind. And I was fooling myself that my feed was the only way to keep up on news. What I was really doing was getting caught up in the analysis of current events by everyone on my feed. Recently, I voluntarily gave up some big work responsibilities which were hard to do and I really grieved letting them go. But I found what was a more powerful release than even the time I didn't have to dedicate to them was that I had cleared out the headspace they had occupied. It has been the same way with Facebook. It occupies less mind space and that gives me more room for clarity and lightness.
I am grateful for the Gratitude Community we have created. It gave me a space for all the positive benefits without the clutter I had with my larger account. I may go back one day to the feed, I miss all my peeps over there. But for now, I am mindful that I need and love my break.
This week, I am serving as a reminder to you that there may be something in your life that is taking up too much headspace, be it a social media account or an obligation to a project you are not passionate about or a relationship that does not serve you.
What can you let go of today that may allow tomorrow to be lighter?
It's worth doing an inventory of your headspace every now and then.