A few weeks ago I talked a bit about social media. About how it’s becoming more and more overwhelming. How it started to become less fun and more of an obligation. How it made me feel more disconnected than connected to what I was doing and those around me.
So over the past few weeks I’ve taken a step back from it. Only posting occasionally. Not checking as frequently. Taking the pressure off from needing to share everything.
And I’ve been learning a few things. I’ll mention more tips in a later post, but for today, here is one of the most useful tips for creating a new relationship with social media.
Retrain Your Brain
One thing about bad habits that we fail to remember is that we’ve trained our brains to behave a certain way. We’ve done something so much that we’ve created a neurological pattern to keep that habit alive.
When we go to change that habit, we don’t give ourselves the time or the effort to reprogram.
I’ve been reading The Power of Habit, a book I highly recommend, by the way, and it talks about a habit loop. There’s a trigger, an action (the habit), and then a reward of some kind.
The key to changing a habit is to keep the trigger and reward, but change the action. And to do it long enough to rewire the bad habit.
So with social media, we’ve created a trigger (being bored at a stoplight, downtime at home, etc.) an action (checking social media), and a reward (receiving likes, reading a funny article, catching up on the latest Facebook drama, etc.).
And the clever folks at the various social media platforms know all of this and keep creating ways to keep you hooked. To give you a greater reward. They are like evil geniuses, really.
But we can play their game. The key is to create a different habit that can still give us that level of gratification.
This will look a bit different for everyone, but my main go-to is mindful breathing. When I get the craving to grab my phone to check Instagram, I use it as a reminder to check in. I take a few deep breaths, notice my surroundings, tune in to something else that I need to be doing, and feel refreshed afterward.
My next one is a bit silly, but I also replace the habit in a “stick it to the man” kind of way. When I’m tempted to open those apps, I replace that desire with, “No. I don’t need this. I’m not going to give in your addictive services, you sneaking little minx.” And my reward is the satisfaction of breaking the habit. Of not adding clutter to my brain. Of not feeling like crap because my life isn’t how it looks on everyone else’s feed.
Our brains are AMAZING things. And it’s functional capacity is beyond our comprehension. And yet, what do we fill it with? Crappy YouTube videos, worthless articles, pictures of some random friend’s baby.
Now there are great things posted on social media, and as I’ve talked about before, I do love being involved in social media, but it oh so easily turns to crap. And takes up way too much time. Way too much of our amazing brain space.
Just think of all of the things you could get done instead of mindless scrolling? Think of the conversations to could have or the ideas you could nurture or the projects you could complete.
And it all starts with setting ourselves up for success with reprograming our habits. By working with how our brain works.
I invite you to give it a whirl. Notice your own habit loop. Get creative on what you could replace the habit with. It’s actually kind of fun. And like always, let me know how it goes in the comments.