I recently went on a lovely, week long, tropical vacation with my husband and a couple of our dearest friends. Before I left, I promised myself that I would spend the week in the moment or in a good book. No mindless internet, minimal email and absolutely no Facebook. Why was I so adamant about this? Because more and more, I find myself filling every down moment cuddled up with my smart phone. Standing in line? Better check my phone. A lull in conversation? Better check my phone. Sitting at a stop light? Better check my phone. You get the pattern here, right? I bet you do, because I see many of you doing the same exact thing!
I realized awhile back that this pattern was becoming my new normal, and I didn’t like it. So I started paying attention and realized I turn to Facebook every time I get a spare moment. All the time! I find this rather funny (in an odd way), because I love quiet and solitude. Why would I fall into a habit of avoiding it?
Truthfully, I have no idea why. There is just something about the constant contact that is addictive…maybe it’s the fear I might miss something “important”. But it really doesn’t matter why…the point is that I decided to take a break while I was on vacation. But I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Are you wondering if I was successful? Are you a bit curious? Did I struggle or cheat? What did I think of it? You probably know the answer already...It was awesome! I checked for emails once a day, twice if I thought there might be something from my daughter. But I did not open Facebook, despite several emails from them. Facebook quickly became aware of my absence and started emailing me…to be sure I was aware of the growing number of notifications I was missing out on. LOL. I was pretty sure none were too earth shattering!
Vacation came to an end and we returned home. A day later, I finally logged in to like something I knew my husband had posted. I didn’t care to look at anything else, so I didn’t. The next day (2 days after return) I logged in to acknowledge a post I had been tagged in, but I didn’t care to look at anything else, so I didn’t. 3 days after my return I logged in, did a quick 5 minute scan of my notifications, liked a couple pictures people posted for Father’s Day and that was it. I am really loving less Facebook in my life. Over a week later, I am checking Facebook 1-2 times a day, for 5-10 minutes. Does this give me time to see everything in my newsfeed? Nope…and I’m okay with that.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook has some wonderful qualities!! I love seeing pictures of friends and family I can’t visit often enough, I love my friend’s inspirational posts and I love some of the funny ones as well. I love learning of new books from my favorite authors, meditation programs offered by my mentors or herbal tidbits posted by other holistic practitioners. All of this stuff is great! Luckily, I have made it a habit to unfollow people that post things I don’t really appreciate, so my newsfeed tends to be pretty positive and happy, but it still seems like many of us are falling into the trap of confusing Facebook with real life.
So I am making a commitment to myself, to increase my mindfulness…and the only way to do this is to decrease time spent in mindlessness. I am committing to minimal Facebook. I encourage you to do the same. Maybe your Facebook isn’t your thing. What is your mindless poison? Too much TV? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? Snapchat?
Could you spend a little more time being present in the moment rather than reaching for your computer, tablet or phone every time you have a moment to yourself? Maybe instead, just sit and enjoy that moment of peace. That is certainly what I’ve been doing, and loving every minute of it.
Here in the U.S. we have a holiday weekend coming up. Consider putting social media in timeout for the weekend…to just relax and enjoy living in the moment. Try enjoying real, live socialization with friends and family, or get out in nature for a solo walk. Enjoy some introspection, read a book or watch some fireworks. Often, life is better when you live it unplugged!!!!
Enjoy the peace!
A few days later I was finding myself cranked up, frustrated, resentful, overwhelmed and downright grouchy. These negative emotions were lasting for days and were starting to overwhelm me to the point that I was seriously thinking I might not be far away from a breakdown. My overwhelm was bubbling to the surface and I was afraid soon I may lose control and do something rash (and probably counter-productive).
Have you ever felt this way? Like your never ending to-do list or your relatives, coworkers, business partners, kids, grocery clerks, etc., may just push you over the edge? Like the world is conspiring to drive you crazy? That you alone carry all the responsibility while everyone else seems to just be leisurely going about their day?
Then, in a moment, I had an epiphany that led me to relook at everything. What happened? I was driving along the highway, when a deer almost ran out in front of me. She changed her mind at the last minute and turned back into the median. But then I realized she was trapped and she was panicking. She was trapped in a small median with 2 lanes of 70 MPH traffic on each side of her. She was scared and confused and didn’t know where to go or what to do. She was completely overwhelmed by the movement in her path and didn’t seem to know what to do. At any moment she was going to make a wrong move and the results would be detrimental.
I quickly took a deep breath and tried to will her a sense of peace and calm, imaging her panic eased before she made a wrong choice and ended up in front of a car. I attempted to somehow support her telepathically, because I was unable to do anything else. As I did this, it occurred to me that I have been feeling just like her. Freaked out, frustrated and completely overwhelmed by situations surrounding me. I was dangerously close to making decisions from this place (rather than a calm, well thought out decision) But then I realized, while her stressors were real (she was in a dire situation), mine were almost all in my head.
I’m overwhelmed with a to-do list of things that will not kill me if they go undone. I am resentful of situations that really aren’t a big deal (it’s just the principle of the thing). I am overwhelmed with balancing family, job, my business and still have some time for me. All of these things stress me only because I let them. I am stressing myself out…I can’t put that on anybody else.
I happened to be lucky enough that day to be meeting a coach for coffee. We hashed out my experiences over the last few days and discussed a few tools/concepts about responsibility and resentment. (one is the Responsibility Square, the other is the Mastery Grid- check them out if you ever feel resentment).
This is the Mastery Grid below...
I sometimes struggle with these concepts because as a rule, I am a nice, helpful, supporting and ambitious person. If something needs to be done, I can’t relax until it’s complete (or at least until there is a plan). This often leads me to do things for people, to take over tasks and to just stress out about things, even when they aren’t mine to worry about. I choose to take responsibility for others and then I feel resentful and frustrated. I lose balance. Ever do that???
So I am reminded this week, to notice when I’m out of balance and taking on things that aren’t mine…to stop and put it in perspective…Nothing is trying to kill me, I’m not on fire and I’m not trapped like a deer in traffic. I sit in meditation and send myself the same peaceful, calm energy I was sending to that deer. Reminding myself to be calm and relaxed, and make the decision to do or not to do, from a place of centered clarity. Sigh…feels good.
And because life is better when we can laugh at ourselves....
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.