Researchers speculate that at least some of today's rise in growing mental health issues can be linked to technology...technologies that heighten our self-focus. Here's what I'm talking about. Facebook is all about expressing our opinions; Pinterest is about collecting things we like; LinkIn is about our accomplishments. And Twitter can be used for all these things. As well as for dissing those we don't like or approve of. Self-focus means paying attention to how YOU feel, think, react, and behave. it's about your beliefs, your attitudes, and your traits. Being self-focused isn't inherently a bad thing. It can broaden our sense of who we are, what we believe; it can make us more self-aware and that can lead to deeper introspection. We want to know who we are and why we do the things we do. This can help us to improve our lives and enhance our well-being. This is all good stuff...unless we take them too far. Then it becomes, "It's all about ME!"
A heightened sense of self-focus can cause us to notice any slight dissatisfaction, anxiety, or general "malaise" we might not have noticed otherwise. By bringing attention to these things, we amplify them. We risk becoming absorbed with all the little things that aren't "perfect" in ourselves or our lives. So how do we find the happy middle ground? Here are four strategies that can help.
1. Stop asking questions. Instead, challenge your answers. Google, and other search engines can answer just about any question we ask. The problem is, it feeds us back the answers we want because it searches using our exact words. Case in point: Search for "Is climate change a hoax?" What you will get are the answers that say yes. Why? Because it searched for climate+ change+ hoax. "By exploring the ideas, perspectives, and experiences of others, you enhance your communication skills and emotional intelligence."
2. Stop humble-bragging. Instead, share for real. Somewhere along the line, sharing became humble-bragging. So instead of telling your audience about the really cool thing you did, the 4-star restaurant you dined in, or the fabulous party you attended...why not share advice, a lesson you learned the hard way, or say few words of support for someone in need. These are things you do in empathy. the end result is that you'll feel better as will all those around you.
3. Stop focusing on what you can get. Instead, focus on what you can give. Most of the time when we see the posts of others exclaiming about their latest purchase or next fabulous vacation, we tend to see our own lives as lacking. We feel like failures in comparison. Instead of posting all this "braggy" stuff, why not focus your attention on helping others? Pick a cause that stirs your passion and sell t-shirts, note cards, candy or cookies to raise money to support them? When your birthday comes around this year, ask for gift money to be donated to your favorite charity. There are all sorts of things you can do that help the world and won't make others feel "less than."
4. Stop taking "selfies." Instead, take "friendies." Selfies are no longer spontaneous, have you noticed? Humans take lots of time primping and posing before getting just the "right" shot to post on social media. All to impress others or to make themselves look good in their own eyes. Constantly worrying about how we look...or how we don't look.... lowers self-esteem and serves no useful purpose. Instead, try taking pictures of your friends...friendies...then try to highlight the awesome things they do and what makes them so special. "By finding ways to be kind to others, you'' spend less time thinking about the pimple on your nose or that grey hair you found this morning. The biggest bonus of all, though, will be that your relationship will strength and grow by leaps and bounds.
Social media is a lot like marriage, for better or for worse; it never works when the relationship is all one-sided. Sure, technology is great. I can't imagine my own life without it. But it can cause us loads of problems, too. if we're not careful. Technology can eat us alive or it can connect us to the import people, things, and ideas in our lives. Don't use it for shameless self-promotion. Instead, use technology to make the world a little nicer for everyone....including you!