Technology, Self Esteem, and Boundaries

The effects of technology    

The effects of technology are starting to be revealed in our everyday interactions. The things that used to be done in person have been completely streamlined to the online world. Other examples are dating, socializing, employment, and entertainment. Let’s put this in perspective shows that in 2011 the average daily internet usage was 32 minutes. Three months into the year 2021, the average is 155 minutes of DAILY use of looking at our mobile devices. That’s a massive change into where we are today!

          As I continue to work with clients through their mental health journey, a trend has emerged in Gen Z clients and other generations. The anxiety surrounding social interactions and the shame and judgment developed from the unrealistic standards shown in social media.

          We are talking about the standards that life be displayed online, and approval will come from others. Portraying our lives online overshadows our self-worth and ability to provide ourselves with positive affirmations and validations.

WAIT! I’m supposed to give myself validation and worth!!?

          That’s right, yes! Our needs are best met by ourselves. The idea of looking within has been discussed by many such as Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Margaret Paul, and mindfulness and meditation teachers. They express the concept in different ways, but the message is still the same.

You must be able to sit with yourself and all your flaws and imperfections before you can sit with others.

The effects of technology on our self-worth can be interrupted by learning and becoming comfortable setting healthy boundaries. In the next blog, we will discuss our behaviors towards technology and options to start to create a healthy separation. 

 Let’s continue the conversation about the behaviors towards our mobile devices. What do I mean by this? When you get a text or a notification, what is the first thing that you do? Here are some options:

  1. Check it as soon as you see/hear it
  2. Finish your task and then check it
  3. Ignore it depending on what it is or who it is from

And then what do we do with that information?

Depending on what it is, you may spend several minutes responding or managing the notification, which can take you out of the present moment. This cycle of being notified, taking an action, and then returning to the present takes us away from being mindful in the moment and our life. It decreases our ability to tune into ourselves and our need to increase self-worth and loving behaviors. How can we stay mindful, present, and intentional about our smartphone usage?

  1. Turn on, do not disturb: The joys of do not disturb have introduced us to a way to use the phone still when needed but not to be interrupted from life.
  2. Plan time to respond to non-urgent message: That adorable dog picture or a meme that makes you smile from a friend doesn’t need a response right away. If you need to determine whether you should reply, think about the WHY, WHAT, and HOW. Why am I responding? Is it because of fear of shame or judgment? Or because I genuinely want to respond to the information? Then ask the WHAT, What am I personally getting from this exchange? (sounds selfish but here’s what I mean) Are you feeling validated, valuable, worthy, connected. And finally, the HOW. How does this exchange make you feel? Tune in to the body and see. Is there a positive shift, a negative shift, or a neutral feeling?
  3. Set boundaries and communicate them: Whether it’s setting the time for responding or turning off your phone completely, you decide what that looks like for your needs.
  4. Put yourself first: The desire to be connected with others is our human nature. The immediate gratification and dopamine shift from technology can make it challenging to set it aside, and remember that if you are not in a good space, then you can not be there for your own needs, let alone others. Listen to your needs and do your best to meet them.

There is so much we can get into with technology,

There is so much we can get into with technology, and while we are increasing our world online, we mustn’t lose ourselves through this process. The option to tune inwards and meet your emotional needs for yourselves will begin to show you that you’re worthy of your own time and space. I challenge you to set at least one boundary with your form of technology this week and see what it feels like to put yourself first.

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