Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I first conceived of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk back in 2007. It was born out of my own personal pain, and my own simultaneous a-ha moments that a) conscious and unconscious negative self-talk was what held so many women back from the life they longed to lead, and b) people needed a place to go to empower themselves to shift their self-talk in a real, lasting way that went beyond momentary feel-good affirmations and mantras.

I wanted to create a multi-faceted platform that addressed all kinds of negative self-talk – self-talk related to body image, relationships, work, community, self-worth, the narratives that are passed down to us by the people before us, and the narratives that are passed around to us by the people who stand beside us today.

WANT has come a long way since 2007. It’s a movement. It’s an editorial platform, a podcast, workshops, toolkits, and a vibrant community on both social media and IRL. It’s let go of podcast sponsorships in favor of spotlighting and amplifying organizations doing work on the community and global level to advocate for change – both change in policy and change in paradigms. WANT has never been my passion project – it’s always been my purpose project. And with time, that purpose has only gotten clearer and stronger. Not only the purpose…but the urgency behind it.

For anyone new here, I wanted to write this primer on why shifting your self-talk matters. For anyone who’s been here for a while, I wanted to post this as a reminder of what we – all of us – stand for, and why the work we do is so, so worth it.

~

Over the last few years, I’ve rejected the idea that shifting your self-talk is a ‘self-help’ issue. Sure, there’s overlap. But shifting your self-talk, to me, is the very opposite of the good-vibe-ness that self-help and wellness have become notorious for in so much of mainstream self-help/wellness conversations.

Shifting your self-talk is so, so much more urgent than that.

 

The work of shifting your self-talk – which is really the work of finding, being, and staying your Self – isn’t just about changing your life, in the long run.

It’s about changing life. Period.


Shifting your self-talk is about facing your shame, guilt, doubt, fear, frustration, and blind spots head-on and being proactive, not reactive. What does that mean? It means using critical thinking skills to listen, learn, and act even (especially!) when the stakes are high and you might fuck up. Because as Maya Angelou said, when you know better, you do better…but if you aren’t putting yourself in a position to know better, you will never, ever do better.

Shifting your self-talk is about finding, using, and owning your own voice whether people are watching or not – so that when you get feedback from the world, explicitly (like via words) or otherwise (like via emotions), you’re able to grow, learn, and be better in a way that’s sustainable.

We need major policy changes and systemic paradigm shifts. We need police and criminal justice reform, we need legislation passed that protects Black communities, POC, LGBTQ+, women and girls, people with disabilities, and allows equity to everyone.

And.

We also need radical personal changes.

It’s not an either-or situation.

It’s an at-the-same-time one.

We need both simultaneously, because there is no way that fighting for and creating the proverbial “change we wish to see in the world” will ever be sustainable if we’re constantly offloading our ‘hard’ emotions off on others by using hateful words or inflicting harm (side note, it’s really easy to sit back and convince yourself you’re doing something to change when in fact all you’re doing is criticizing the ‘people in the arena’ actually taking those steps forward. See: entire premise of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly), or shaming ourselves into silence because we’re overwhelmed or too afraid to make a mistake.

We think a future version of our Self will know better. Be stronger. Speak louder. Or that one day, we’ll be successful or self-actualized ‘enough’ to say what we truly mean instead of what we think checks all the right boxes. The stakes are too high right now, we convince ourselves. I don’t know enough yet. Like once we achieve a very specific self-dictated level of success or expertise, the conversational doors will fly open. When that happens, we say, we’ll use our voice. We’ll talk about the things that matter. Systemic racism. Gender disparities. Wage gaps. Mental health. When, when, when.

 

Yet each time we say when, we not only put our Self on the sidelines, we delay the very progress we desire to contribute to. Each time we say when, we reinforce the narrative in our mind that the ‘right’ time is far off in the distance.


Imagine if everyone in the world waited until their own self-determined ‘day whens.’ We would never have any change or progress. We would spend our years waiting around and call that a life.

The world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self. Click To Tweet

Society would love for you to keep telling yourself the story of your shame, your guilt, your self-doubt and your defeat.

Society would love for you to stay silent and small. It would love to keep steering you far from who you are and discouraging your growth.

But the world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self.

Will shifting your self-talk alone change the world? Of course not. But we must treat it like the vital puzzle piece of change that it is. We must practice using our voice so that when the chance comes to make a change, we speak up and out instead of shying away. And because what we say on the outside is a direct reflection of what we say on the inside – we must practice diving in, digging deep, and changing our internal AND external world simultaneously.

Shifting your self-talk is an essential piece of fighting for the world you actually want to live in, for yourself and for others.

The when is now. The right time is now.

Take your Self off the sidelines. You are so ready to get into the arena.

 

You Must Imagine.

You Must Imagine.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

A story.

Last year on our trip to Italy, we visited the ruins of Pompeii. As our tour guide gestured toward the empty rooms and half-demolished ovens and sprawling town squares, she invited us into the ancient world by using one phrase over and over: “You must imagine…”

“You must imagine, here is where the baker would ground the grains for his daily goods”

“You must imagine, this street was once was a bustling throughway from the docks to the town”

“You must imagine, it was a clear day…”

We walked through the town, imagining the kitchens and living rooms and baths. The celebrations. The rituals.

And the devastation.

The suffering.

The feelings of being scared and alone.

The imagination hurt. The imagination was necessary.

Since that day in Pompeii, I‘ve done my best to catch myself when I say “I cannot imagine” and rid it from my conversations. I used to think it was a phrase of compassion – but it’s the exact opposite. Because to not imagine is my privilege showing. I CAN imagine, because I MUST imagine. There is no other way.

I’ve begun to realize the prevalence of “I cannot imagine” as not just a socially-acceptable response to a traumatic event, but as a way to perform empathy. But what I’ve also started to realize is that responding “I cannot imagine” is just that: a performance of empathy. An artistic interpretation. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, doesn’t matter. Stating “I cannot imagine” creates a barrier between us and the truth. 

You cannot selectively empathize. You cannot “not imagine.” Because altering your empathy and only allowing yourself to imagine the best of times isn’t really empathy at all. It’s ignorance.


Imagine #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor and #GeorgeFloyd and #NinaPop and #TonyMcDade. Imagine #ChristianCooper. Imagine how many cases like theirs occur that don’t ever get attention because there are no videos circulating on social media. Imagine all the cases that have occurred that never got attention because they happened when social media wasn’t a thing. Imagine #SandraBland and #MikeBrown and #AltonSterling and #TrayvonMartin and their families. Imagine what it means to fear for your safety every single day. Imagine outliving your child, or grandchild, and imagine them becoming a hashtag. Imagine. Do not shut off or opt out or create the imagination barrier.

To create lasting change – and to be actively anti-racist – we MUST put ourselves in each others’ shoes. We must feel broken apart by pain and suffering and injustice,and then GET UP and do the real work to unbreak our collective heart and reimagine our collective coexistence.

As Rachel Cargle says, “I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action.” The solidarity is important. The action is crucial. And it all starts with the willingness to imagine.

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

We must imagine so our eyes are wide open.

We must imagine so we don’t forget.

And then, we must turn our imagination into action.

 

The following lists are action steps: books to buy, places to donate, people to follow on social media, education tools to dive into – all of which I’ve also done myself. They’ll all, btw, lead you to more action steps, books to buy, places to donate, people to follow, tools to use to learn and unlearn, and more. I encourage you to keep going.

To be clear, I’m not the authority on anti-racism work or even *an* authority – there are many, many others out there who have been doing this work for years. I am this journey of learning and unlearning, too. So if I can be the middle-woman to introduce you to some of those voices, great. Be sure to follow them, buy their books, join their courses, donate, and support the work they do…

And then share their work with your communities. Have conversations on the phone and on FaceTime and at your dinner tables. It’s 2020, and sometimes it can feel like social media allyship is enough. But real change happens in the real world. Posts are very important, YES, but what happens outside of Instagram or Facebook is just as important if not (read: definitely) more important. A post or hashtag without action behind it is what’s called “performative allyship” (Google the phrase if you’d like to learn more). If you’re feeling lost and don’t know what to do, Mireille Harper has a great list of steps toward non-optical allyship that is so very useful.

On WANT, we talk a lot about diving in, digging deep, and “making shift happen.”

This is the time, more than ever, to dive in, dig deep and make shift happen on a real, lasting level.

 



THINGS TO DO (that I’ve personally done as well)

Join Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn
Buy these books:
Me And White Supremacy by Layla Saad (and then do the exercises – as she says, “it’s a book you DO”)
Antagonists Advocates and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
Dive into Leesa Renee Hall’s work (and Patreon!). You’re an HSP and feeling completely overwhelmed? She’s created work just for HSPs!
Donate to your local bail fund (Google “bail fund [your city or state]”) and/or The Bail Project
Support George Floyd’s family
Support Ahmaud Arbery’s family
Donate to Campaign Zero as they work to end police brutality
Donate to Unicorn Riot as they expose root causes of social and environmental issues
Donate to Black Visions Collective as they create transformative, long-term change
Read and put into action the steps outlined in Mireille Harper’s guide to non-optical allyship


RESOURCES + EDUCATION: PEOPLE + ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA

@ckyourprivilege
@nowhitesaviors
@reclamationventures
@mireillecharper
@austinchanning

@rachel.cargle
@laylafsaad
@diveinwell
@decolonizing_fitness
@decolonizingtherapy
@chaninicholas
@blackgirlinom
@blklivesmatter
@ibramxk
@iamrachelricketts
@austinchanning
@dr.kholi
@cleowade
@mspackyetti
@theconsciouskid
@nicoleacardoza
@wellreadblackgirl
@goodancestorpodcast
@sincerely.lettie
@glowmaven
@maryamajayi
@naacp
@colorofchange

*A note about social media: there are actual people behind these accounts that are putting forth massive emotional, mental, and physical energy to educate and fight for change. Treat them as such. They are more than just “resources.” Follow, learn, unlearn, pay them for their education and energy, and amplify their voices by sharing.

One more time for the people in the back:

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

cover image by @emilyonlife

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

My amusement park ride of choice as a highly sensitive kid was the carousel. No big drops. No unexpected moves. No aggressive sounds or strobe light effects. Just an expected gallop in the round. I could get on my favorite horse and, for three whole minutes (or more), escape from everyone and everything around me (or more).

I’m a Libra, and true to my astrological nature, I appreciate aesthetic. So of course, part of the appeal was that I loved how pretty carousels are. Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park or fairground knows: carousels are very, very pretty. Porcelain hollow horses and spherical moulding on loop.

Most carousels cost mere quarters to ride, so it’s easy to just stay on and go around in circles ad nauseam. A tactic I vividly remember employing on one particular trip to the Santa Monica Pier when the roller coasters and target-shooting games felt too overwhelming to even walk around. Those were scary. The carousel made me smile. So I stayed on.

But the thing about rides is that they need to end at some point. At SOME point, the carousel needs to stop. You get off your literal high-horse, and you’re faced with the world beyond the beautiful lights and porcelain fairytale creatures. And if you’ve stayed on too long, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble off a bit more than wobbly.


Our culture has a negativity problem and a cynicism problem – but it also has an optimism problem.

To be clear: Living with an optimistic outlook on life is a strength. No doubts there. Living optimistically usually means you’re forward-thinking and naturally see what could be. You find the beauty in the seemingly possible, instead of the darkness in the seemingly inevitable. No, optimism (lower-case-o, neutral tone) by itself isn’t bad at all.

HOWEVER. Just like anything, there’s a necessary energetic balance that makes optimism actually work.

If you pay very close attention, you’ll feel the disconnect when optimism starts to go downhill. When it happens, that once-proactive optimism will start to shut out the realities of life as a means of avoidance, and chalk it up to “looking on the sunny side of life” or a “glass-half-full” mentality.

How does this happen? How can something so inherently good betray us?

 

I call it Blind Optimism.

 

Blind Optimism is what happens when you rely on your positive outlook to ignore, shut out, fabricate and gloss over your life. It can minimize experiences and eat you alive – just like Casual Negativity, cynicism, auto-pilot pessimism, and projection. It can gnaw away at your spirit, your relationships, and roll a haze of oblivion over your existence.

Blind optimism makes me dizzy – just like carousels. Blind Optimism turns me away from facts and reality in favor of the shiny, pretty thing around the corner. I get onboard and go in circles over and over and over and over until I get dizzy and lose my bearings.


When you find yourself caught in a nonstop-carousel-ride moment of Blind Optimism, one of two things starts to happen:

a) The carousel stops being fun and eventually breaks down. There’s only so much you can give. There’s always a breaking point when it comes to extremes. Always.

b) The carousel becomes annoying, saccharine, and dismissable; something other people tire of and don’t want to go near. It’s cheesy and trite at best, ignorant and entitled at worst. You become a part of a fairy tale world playing on loop – one that’s in no way a reflection of real life. You find yourself alone, on a ride going nowhere.

We love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them. Click To Tweet

I’m known for being able to see the good in things. One of my friends calls me “aggressively optimistic.” And when we’re all stuck in the collective doldrums together, I’m often asked how I stay so optimistic.

The funny thing is – I don’t view myself as a glass-half-full Optimist. Pollyanna was admirable, but always bugged me for some reason (which made me feel guilty, of course – sorry Hayley Mills). I always loved the brilliantly crafted songs and rad penguin dance parties in Mary Poppins, but the Practically Perfect nanny was never relatable to me.

When asked for my “secret,” I reveal that I’m not really a bona fide Optimist (capital O, chipper voice).


My brand of positivity isn’t about what’s GOOD or BAD, it’s about what’s pragmatic and proactive instead of unrealistic and reactive.


Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and some moments will seem more hope-filled than others. So what can you do about it?

You can see the facts in front of you and the projected outcomes ahead of you, and you can root for the positive while still recognizing the negative. It’s not about putting on blinders and ignoring that things aren’t perfectly in place or might go awry – or maybe already have in a major way. It’s about taking in the world as is, seeing the full spectrum of its experience and existence, and choosing to proactively fight for an outcome that uplifts us collectively.

It’s like true love: we love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them.

optimism


To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, our love of life and love of self MUST transcend those pitfalls and darkness.
It starts by moving forward through things instead of around them. It starts with granting ourselves permission to let our Self-Like to ebb and flow (because it’s normal and because we’re human) and by viewing Self-Love as the kind of unconditional, unbreakable love that no high-high or low -ow can affect.

To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, we must let go of rushing into the search for how good things CAN be in the future (or not), and instead sit with how good things are right NOW (or not). We must begin to look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that’s being sipped from every moment.

Easy but nuanced. Simple yet scary. It’s not easy work, but it’s right work. And it’s the work that’ll lead us to finding our genuine smiles, without the help of the ceramic ponies and the carousel leading nowhere.

blind optimism and real positivity

Look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that's being sipped from every moment. Click To Tweet

 

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Experiential Longing: The Simplest Hack For When You Miss Things.

Experiential Longing: The Simplest Hack For When You Miss Things.

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

One of my favorite things in the world is sitting outside with a warm cup of coffee. A to-go situation works, but the best is with actual ceramic cups. There’s something so simple in the magic of watching the steam slowly rise in little loose tendrils, then disappear into the air. There’s something so calming about sitting with a delicately sculpted handle between your fingers staring out at the world and daydreaming. There’s something quite wonderful about those shallow pieces of everyday art you sip from a place other than your home – oversized or shrunken down, they’re usually shallower than usual, usually heavier than usual, and usually feel like you’re being treated to a tender moment by the barista or server in their home away from home. Over a cup of coffee, we soften and time slows down.

Jeremy and I agreed that sipping slowly on a fresh brew was one of our favorite parts of our honeymoon in Italy. Every day at 4pm, we’d head to the Piazza Navona and order a coffee as we watched the street performers dance and the students chase after the flocks of pigeons. When we go to Positano, we treated ourselves to the luxury of coffee delivered to our room each morning. We’d sit on the balcony together, overlooking the ancient church and the bluest blue ocean, and life seemed as perfect as it would ever be. Sitting and sipping was already a “thing” we did here at home, but after that trip, we made it a HABIT.

 

We work so hard to create habits that uplift us instead of harm us. No one habit is right for everyone, but it’s a proud day when you realize you’ve found what works for YOU. We replace draining after-work beers with energizing barre classes (and maybe beers after but that’s besides the point). We wake up early with the sunshine instead of pressing “snooze” 12 times and then rushing to begin the day. We journal our emotions instead of making jabs that hurt others. When we feel screens burning our eyes, we replace them with pages of books. We go to therapy. We make – and keep – friend dates. We visit our parents. We give ourselves moments of pause instead of blazing through each day.

So when life turns those habits upside down and throws them out the window, it’s natural to spiral into sadness and miss things deeply. It’s not just that your routines and practices have been taken away from you – it’s that mindfully-built sense of pride and self-appreciation that’s bruised, too.

I was looking through our photos from Italy last year, and got SHARP PANGS of sadness that not only would our next travel-adventure be postponed till who knows when, but that even the ritual of going to my local coffee shops, cafes, and diners, and slowing down over a perfect cuppa was a thing of the future and past but definitely not the present. I can’t even visit the hole-in-the-wall down the street, get my brew to-go, tip my favorite barista generously after bonding over the late-90s playlist crooning at us over the sound system, and sit leisurely on a bench with that tiny luxury in hand while watching all the world go by. I had done such a great job at honing the art of the peaceful pause and implementing our Italian habit back here at home.

As I scrolled through my Camera Roll, cried a little over the photos of us smiling on the Il San Pietro terrace, and laughed at the forgotten videos taken in the middle of the streets, I was ready to craft an Instagram post following suit of many of the people I’m seeing: posting a carousel of snapshots, accompanied by a caption titled THINGS I MISS. It was 8am. What I wouldn’t give for a delicate cup and saucer in the fresh air…

 

My “oh, DUH” moment came to me about about 8:02am. Wait a second. We have cups and saucers we bought in Italy! We drink coffee every morning! What if…what if we upgraded from our typical mugs to these delicate, fancy, unique pieces of art?

It obviously wouldn’t solve anything major…but, how would it make me FEEL?

 

We pulled out the ceramics from the top shelf above the sink – two hand-painted cups and saucers that had been sold to us in Ravello by the owner of the family-owned shop, Cosmolena (“My father was Cosmo and my mother was Lena!”), just after he’d demonstrated to us their indestructibility by banging them onto the top of the iron display table. Red stripes and blue florals wrapping around the sides. Plates perfectly spun on a potter’s wheel with the love and care of someone who takes great pride in their generations-long history of craftsmanship.

And just like that, my sadness turned into gladness. I felt time slow down as I balanced the saucer in my hand, careful not to let the coffee spill over the shallower-than-usual sides. I took a sip and was transported to the cliffs of Positano, and the piazza in Rome, and the restaurant in Ravello, and the balcony of the hotel where we spent our honeymoon, and the random cup we stopped to sip in Amalfi. My heart warmed (or maybe it was just my esophagus) as I thought of all the cups of coffee we’ve sipped throughout our time in NYC, and got excited for when we’re able to do it again.


You know to call someone when you miss them. But what if what you miss isn’t able to be dialed on the phone – what happens when it’s EXPERIENTIAL LONGING?

When life feels tough and you’re missing so many things it feels like your heart might shatter, find something that reminds you of something else you miss, and put it to use. Why let them collect dust when they could be bringing you joy? No, it won’t make the thing you miss magically appear – BUT, it will trigger at least some of the positive feelings associated with it. And right now, that might be just enough to get you in a proactive, not reactive, head-and-heart space.

When you miss celebrating birthdays and weddings, use the fancy dishes you got for your wedding or wear your favorite “celebration” outfit. When you wish you could hug your family, use the serving tongs that were passed down to you from your grandma (and send a picture to your sibling or cousins to share the moment with them). When you’re longing to go on vacation, drink out of those glasses you bought on your last adventure. Heck, when you’re missing window shopping, put flowers in the vase that has been hiding in the back of your closet for years!  It’s so small and simple but makes just the right amount of a difference when you’re in the middle of Missing.

Nothing is too nice to use now. If you’ve deemed it “too nice to use,” it probably also holds some sentimental value, since we’re way more reluctant to use the really nice things that MEAN something.

But if not now, when?

i miss this coffee cups

6 Ways To Set Boundaries + Stay Sane On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

6 Ways To Set Boundaries + Stay Sane On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

I’m what’s considered an Older Millennial, which means I’m a part of the age group that both grew up with the internet and vividly remembers a time without it. I still remember the ancient dial-up chords of the Prodigy and America Online-era World Wide Web, the rush of excitement when you finally made it “online” (because that thing was SLOW), and the hope that someone wouldn’t pick up the landline, break your connection, and ruin it all. “Inbox Zero” wasn’t the badge of honor – a full inbox, however, was. Hearing the words You’ve Got Mail were like digitized music to your ears.

You had MAIL!!!

On your COMPUTER!!!

Ah, the olden days…

My family got America Online – or AOL for the kiddos reading – in 1997. Soon thereafter, my tweenage self found a special corner of the not-so-dark internet that seemed to be reserved especially for me: the musical theatre message boards. In each thread detailing touring companies of Les Misérables and each challenge asking your Top 25 cast albums, I found a community where I was able to be ME. Never once did I think twice about who I was talking to or the validity of the information shares – and I certainly didn’t ever consider that I could fabricate a personality online that was different from than who I was IRL. The outside world what where I pretended. This new, magical online space was where I could fully exhale and bring all of my nuances, quirks, and passions to the (pixelated) table.

One of my most vivid and impactful memories of the dawning of the internet is when my high school English teacher had to explicitly tell us that Wikipedia was not a reliable source to credit in research papers. WHAT?! There is stuff on the internet that isn’t true?! There are people who aren’t who they say they are?! Well geez. This takes the fun out of things. No more message boards, I guess.

The digital socialization that happened in the message boards and chat rooms of the late-’90s was the precursor to what we now know as social media. I remember MySpace, I remember Friendster. LiveJournal, anyone?

And then, the summer before my first year of college, I signed up to get an invite to an exclusive website connecting me to all my future classmates. It was called The Facebook.



The internet – and social media – have evolved a LOT since the 90s and early 2000s and the days of yore when Facebook had a THE before it and only allowed you to update your status in ways that completed the sentence “So-And-So is…” And with that evolution, we’ve had to reinvent what it means to be MINDFUL, over and over again.

Maybe you’re already mindful IRL. You’re present in your conversations, you live for the now, and you’re all about savoring the moment. Some might have trouble tuning into life when today’s technology provides such a fun distraction – but for you, the fun is right in front of you in real time.

But here’s the hard reality: social media, smartphones, and being in-somewhat-constant-contact are not the exception anymore, they’re the norm. Whereas outlets like Instagram and Twitter were once fun escapes, they’ve become a vital component of connection in the world we live. And while we’re not necessarily living for another moment because of social media…the moments we are living for are the same ones we’re expected to stop, drop, and document to keep our “brand” alive, both online and off.

Whether you’re looking to grow your business, or are the average social media user catching up on cute baby/puppy pics and posting funny memes, the social media overwhelm is REAL. So many people to keep up with! So much news being thrown at us! It’s almost too much to handle, especially if you’re the type of person who likes to savor the moment.

And then, enter the For-Now-Normal of the last few weeks. With so much on hold, it can seem like social media is one of the ONLY things that’s kept on chugging and churning as expected. Maybe your social media usage was mild or moderate before all this…but day by day, you’ve seen your screen time go up and felt your anxiety follow suit.

 

It’s not just that social media is a distraction – it’s that it makes us question how true our truths really are.

Just like a baby slowly learns that crying isn’t just a mode of calling for help but a surefire way to steal mom’s focus, social media can suck you in and make you feel as if every update, every post, every link and every Boost is a make-or-break scenario.

While I’m all about the power of a double-tap, it’s vital we learn to stay SANE on our smartphones. Here are six solid social media tips + strategies to follow (no pun intended) so you can have your life and post it, too.



6 Ways To Set Boundaries + Stay Sane On Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN SCROLLING:


1. QUESTION NEWS SOURCES.

Many times we’ll see a headline, gasp, and share so someone else can share in our rage/elation. But how often do you look at the URL where it came from? Is this source credible? Is it from a viable news outlet, like the New York Times or CNN, or is it from a site called something like icantbelieveitsnotbetter.com ?? It’s called “click bait” for a reason: its main point is to lure you in so you will click and BITE.

You can usually see the news source in the link preview. Train yourself to look at THAT first – yes, even before thinking about the headline – then decide whether you’ll click and share. If it’s real news, there’s a good chance it’s being reported on a more credible news site where you can find real reporting – if it’s not, then it’s not worth reading anyway (no matter HOW much it’s playing to your emotions).

2. PRACTICE COMO: CELEBRATION OF MISSING OUT.

Feeling envy bubble up when you see someone else doing something you with YOU could do or have, too? True jealousy, by definition, is a reaction to the threat of LOSING something you have. Envy, however, arises when you find yourself LACKING something someone else has. (*If you’re unsure which is which,here’s a primer on distinguishing the two.)

If you find yourself being envious of someone else on social media, ask yourself what about that thing resonates the most. What is it you want? And then CELEBRATE it for the other person. When you choose to celebrate what you want, even when someone ELSE has it, the universe takes a little mental note that you know that opportunity isn’t a limited resource. If you see scarcity, you get scarcity. Only those who recognize that there’s space out there for them can actually FILL it. Plus, in the words of Call Your Girlfriend hosts Ann and Aminatou’s Shine Theory, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

If it's not the kind of social interaction you'd want to have offline, then why are you having it online? Click To Tweet

3. ENGAGE WISELY.

It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to encourage us to be SOCIAL. Would you socialize with someone that made you feel icky? Differing opinions is different than downright bad vibes. Choose wisely what and who you engage with. Make sure your engagement does more good than harm. Basically: If it’s not the kind of social interaction you’d want to have offline, then why are you having it online?


SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN POSTING:

4. BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.

Posting reactively is the adult equivalent of the temper tantrum. We see or experience something and get so overworked and overwhelmed that we share something, ANYTHING, to let others know how we feel.

Before you lose your cool on the web, ask yourself if what you’re posting is the Communicative Quad-fecta: Kind, True, Helpful, and Necessary. If it’s not, then maybe give yourself a time-out (counting to 20 taking slow breaths helps) to refocus and regroup.

5. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

Like, really, what you truly want to say. When you post a photo or update, what’s the overarching message you want to share with your followers? Do you want to share a snapshot of something you love, spread joy, inform others – or are you trying to keep up with other people’s posts, or use social media as your emotional dumping/venting ground? Do you want Likes and comments, or do you want to impart an actual, meaningful message? Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to social media.

A great picture or quote should support a main message or tell others about who you ARE, not steal the show and tell others what they AREN’T. Set a clear intention before you post, and be honest with yourself about WHY you are posting what you’re posting. And guess what? You DON’T have to keep up with the social media joneses and flood the feed. Authenticity in intention always trumps abundance in action.

6. SET IT AND FORGET IT.

After you’ve posted, let it be! It’s tempting to check your activity log every half-minute, refreshing the page to see if someone else has “Liked,” commented, or retweeted what you’ve shared. Not only is this a time-suck, it’s a strain on your emotions. If you don’t get a surge of attention within minutes, it can seem as if what you had to say or show was not a success, leading you to doubt your credibility, obsess over what you did right or wrong, and agonize over how you can tweak your strategy moving forward. It becomes an abusive relationship that makes you feel like crap.

To keep yourself in a proactive space, it’s vital to set boundaries with your social media. Make a pact with yourself to only check your various social media outlets for activity at specific, limited times throughout the day. Respond, comment, and strategize during these times and these times only, during quiet moments when your attention is not needed elsewhere. Take your pic, share your post, then go make your mark on the world – no filter necessary.

 


WANT Yourself:
Do you have any social media tips and tricks to help you stay sane WITHOUT disconnecting completely? Post in the comments and let us know!


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We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

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In the last five days, I’ve retracted my RSVP for a cousin’s wedding which was later put on hold, cancelled a trip to L.A., postponed a workshop I was co-leading, cancelled my fitness class recording sessions, postponed friend-reunions, skipped out on a networking event, and gotten news that many friends who were debuting their films at SXSW, shows on Broadway, and books into the world would have to press hold on celebrating their art out in the world in real life with other humans.

I’ve also finished two books and started a third, written over 10,000 words for a secret project, attended a funeral via live stream, set up a home studio to record remotely, scheduled aforementioned friend-reunion dinner over Zoom (planty foods and cocktails of choice included), spoken to my therapist, ordered delivery from local restaurants I’ve always wanted to try, cleared my inbox by 50%, bought new books just making their debuts, downloaded multiple independent films on multiple platforms, started to buy tickets to shows I can’t wait to see, and made pumpkin seed butter from scratch.

I’m finding that it’s easier for me transition to this Homeward Bound lifestyle than a lot of my friends. Not because I’m better at managing global crises – but because I’m an introvert. My home is my favorite place in the world. I’ve also been working primarily from home for most of my adult life. Even as a kid, I preferred locking myself in my room and playing silently than going out with my peers. I texted a friend, half-jokingly: THIS IS MY MOMENT!! This is what I’ve been PREPARING FOR my whole LIFE!

However, there’s one thing I’m still struggling with, no matter how many jars of pumpkin seed butter I make or chapters I write: my sponginess.

 

SPONGINESS.

I’m what’s called a Highly Sensitive Person, which means I see things others can’t and feel things others don’t. I can feel fear or freedom just by looking at your Instagram post. It’s been both my downfall and my most prized resumé point.

Jeremy calls my high sensitivity my “sponginess.” I sponge up everyone else’s emotions and everything else’s intensity and hold it within me in my pores and fibers. It’s been a great way to explain to him how I’m feeling when I don’t have words – I can just tell him I’m having a majorly spongey day and he understands my heaviness. He also knows my sponginess is my superpower – so instead of trying to change it, he celebrates it while helping me squeeze out what doesn’t serve me.

When I first moved to NYC, the abundance of FEELING was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. I tried to soak in EVERYTHING and it broke me down. I tried to cut myself off and it numbed me out. I had to find a balance and boundaries, and ways to wring myself out at the end of the day. A warm home. A riveting book. Deep breaths by the river. Lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling.

Eating disorders, I’ve heard, are a kind of OCD – a way to count, clean, and control, control, control. In my early days of recovery, I got into an all-or-nothing habit of either cleaning my entire house top to bottom then back again, or leaving clothes and papers and plates and dust to pile up for days, sometimes weeks on end. I once left a sponge sitting at the bottom of my sink in a shallow pool of water. After a while, I finally went to pick it up and realized it had started to mold and disintegrate.

Boundaries are hard. But my job is not to clean up everyone else’s mess. And my job is not to sit in the dark underneath the sink, dry and numb and unmovable, either. Sponges don’t work down there.

 My job is to absorb enough water that I can soak up the muck and make things shine, but not so much that I submerge myself and it breaks my fibers apart.

 

IN SPONGEY TIMES SUCH AS THESE.

The sponges are feeling it BIG TIME right now. They’re feeling the fears of their neighbors, the triggers of anyone who has ever experienced an eating or body-related disorder (this is a VERY triggering state for ED-prone people to be in), the anger of the over-60 set who are pissed that they want to go outside and are also pissed they’re being referred to as “elderly” maybe for the first time in their lives, the frustration of the kids of the over-60 set who don’t understand why their parents just don’t GET it, the snarkiness of the people who believe it’s all a sham and prefer to make fun of the people who don’t…it’s all so, so very much.

What a weird time to be someone who is not typically an alarmist, but simultaneously wants to be the very best, most mindful community member possible. I know that while I don’t fall into the most vulnerable demographic, any trace of Coronavirus/COVID-19/Beer Germs (get it? Corona? Virus? Beer? Germs? I’ll be here all week folks) that I catch could be passed onto someone else whose body might not be able to handle it nearly as well. Not to mention the overwhelmed healthcare professionals right now who are trying to take care of as many people as possible but have a fraction of the resources needed to do so.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been asked many times what I “think of all this,” how people can take care of themselves, and what my general take is on living day-to-day life when it looks and feels anything but normal. Instead of posting a million times to Instagram or spreading my responses out over emails, texts, DMs, and social media updates, I figured it might be useful for you if I just posted everything here, all in one place – for the sponges who need help with sponging, for the people who are struggling finding normalcy and motivation at home, and everyone who’s dealing with a little bit of everything.


9 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) During Coronavirus And Beyond

 

LIMIT YOUR NEWS INTAKE

We can’t always control what we see, but we CAN control what we pay attention to. Sometimes it feels like we’re at the mercy of news updates and social media feeds, but now is a great time to practice a Thank you, next! Ariana Grande-style philosophy and dismiss what does not serve us.

I’m not a huge fan of jumping straight to a cold-turkey digital detox, especially while so many of us are feeling isolated. Not only do I think it’s unrealistic for long-term mental health management – it’s probably not the best idea to make yourself feel even MORE cut off from the world and disconnected from your loved ones right now than you already are.

If going cold-turkey works for you, fantastic. But for the rest of us, limit your Beer Germ updates to THREE PIECES OF CONTENT A DAY. Why three? Four feels like slipping too far down the internet rabbit hole, but one or two feels like there’s no chance for redemption if you DO start to go down a dark path. Consuming and paying attention to three pieces of news updates – whether it’s about Coronavirus or any other hot-topic news item that makes you feel nervous – empowers you to mindfully choose what’s worthy of your attention. How do you want to design your day/week/outlook? Maybe you’ve give two doom-and-gloom articles your attention already – actively SEARCH for a more positive and proactive note to end on (this post is a great one!).

 

BRING BACK THE REIGN OF THE HOBBIES

We all say it. All. The. Time.

If I just had more time…

If there were two extra hours in the day…

Okay, so you’ve been granted your wish. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you don’t currently have a “commute time,” or a busy, distracting office to spend the day in, or non-essential errands like getting a haircut that you “have to get done.”

So what is it? What is that THING you always say you’d do if you had more time? Cleaning your pantry? Writing poetry? Making salsa? Reading a book? Organizing your computer desktop? Draw? Paint? Showing your kid old photos? Learning how to play a new game? This is your time. No excuses anymore. Do your thing. Do that one small thing that’s been lurking in the back of your mind. Whether that’s fixing something broken, learning something new, delving into a meaningful project, or getting back in touch with one of your lost hobbies (REMEMBER HOBBIES?!). I made pumpkin seed butter and am writing like a fiend. What will YOU do with this time given to you in your one wild and precious life?

 

BE A GOOD COMMUNITY MEMBER

And I mean the people who are negatively affected BEYOND not being able to find toilet paper or your favorite shampoo on the shelves. I mean the local businesses whose livelihood depends on in-person interaction, the service industry workers who don’t get paid if they don’t have a shift, the cab drivers who are driving around for hours on end looking for passengers. If you have the means to, order takeout from your local restaurants and tip generously. When you need groceries or home goods, buy locally instead of on Amazon when possible – or call the store! – and then ask if they’ll deliver to your home. When they do, tip generously. Order cabs (there is usually a glass divider between the driver and the passenger), bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down the seats and handles if you choose to, and then – yep – tip generously.

And if there’s a mistake – your cab driver turns down a wrong street, your delivery order is SLIIIIIGHTLY off, tip anyway. Because they’re also a human, just like you, doing the best they can right now. I ordered takeout the other night and my fries were replaced with dumplings. Would I have preferred fries? Yes. Would I be fine with the dumplings? Yes. Now is not the time to snap at each other. As Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it’s because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other.”

 

GET MOVING AND GET SUNSHINE

Exercise is proven to boost your mood AND your immune system. The beauty of this day and age is that we have so many digital options available, at all price points and experience levels, to help us get high-quality workouts during this high-quarantine time.

Exercise isn’t about the workout. Not REALLY. A class, workout, or session isn’t  just fitness training – but LIFE training as well. The more resilient you can be in the face of a challenge in your workout, the more resilient you’ll be in the face of a challenge out there in the world. The kinder you are to yourself while you’re sweating, the kinder you’ll be to yourself when you’re not. In these confusing and emotionally spongey times, it’s important to lean into that mental aspect of fitness, and lean into it HARD.

That doesn’t mean you need to crush it on a treadmill. Keep your distance from others – but get outside! Soak in sunshine on a brisk (or not-brisk) walk or run. Do some stretching in the grass. Make the most of your surroundings.

I teach for Aaptiv, and it’s been an absolute joy and mega comfort to see how many people are taking our trainers’ classes and getting a mood boost from them. If you’re not a member, go to aaptiv.com/save50 for 50% off a yearly membership – that’s $49.99, which is how much I’ve spent on dinner and cocktails with friends before, and literally 1/4 of many regular gym’s monthly dues. I teach outdoor walking, running, spin, elliptical, and treadmill classes galore, but there’s also strength, yoga, Pilates, meditation, and more.

Can’t afford $49.99? There are so many free workouts available online and being hosted on IG right now (Sadie Kurzban of 305 Fitness has some phenomenal dance classes that have happened so far!). Use this as a chance to discover something new, or lean into a long-forgotten physical source of joy (hello jump ropes!).

 

GET YOUR ART ON

So many concerts, book tours, theatre debuts, and film releases are being cancelled or rescheduled right now. These events usually take months upon months to prepare, after usually years and years of work and sweat and tears and heart given by the musicians, authors, actors, and filmmakers to make their art come to life.

Since you’ll probably be listening to music, reading, and watching movies anyway, why not support those artists who worked so tirelessly – only to have their art be put on hold or cancelled?

My friend Lynn Chen (you might remember her from The Recovery Myth or our L.A. panel a few years back) was slated to make her directorial debut with her film, I Will Make You Mine, at this year’s SXSW. She wrote beautifully about the heartbreak of her premiere being cancelled here. The GOOD news is that many of the films, albums, books, and shows that were cancelled or postponed either already exist out there in the world (books and albums), WILL be available for wide release soon (films), or will have their IRL events rescheduled at a later date. The very best things you can do right now are:

A) Sign up for their mailing lists so that you’re up to date with when you can enjoy their art (Lynn’s movie’s list is here!). Here is a list of SXSW films that were supposed to premiere this month.

B) Buy new book releases, stream new music, watch new movies, purchase theatre tickets in advance if possible. Your dollars and views and streams COUNT. As far as books go, Glennon Doyle has a fantastic thread of new books that were just released going on her Twitter feed.

 

EMBRACE THE ART OF THE VOICE TEXT

I LOVE voice texts. I can send them at any time, no matter HOW much time I have available to me, and I can have a voice-to-voice interaction with my friends. Phone calls can pile up (and sometimes become a game of “Call me back!!”), texts can be void of emotion (unless you’re a gif master), but voice texts are almost like a modern day walkie-talkie.

As someone who can feel very guilty about returning phone calls “too late” AND would rather have a multi-hour-long conversation than a quick 10-minute catch up (I am not a 10-minute catch up kind of gal unless I’m forced to be), voice texts feel like a great, no-pressure way to connect and share thoughts, feelings, and ideas in real time. Try it – I have one going on my favorite group chat right now and it’s bringing us all so much joy. And, feels like a great way to have energetic boundaries if you ARE a muti-hour phone convo person like me. Which brings me to…

 

SET CONVERSATION BOUNDARIES (AND HONOR OTHERS’, TOO)

Something I’ve had to learn and re-learn, and teach and re-teach my loved ones, over my many years of Homeward Bound work, is that just because I’m around doesn’t mean I’m available. If you need to talk about your stresses or fears, please please please don’t hold it inside. But if you need space, assert space. My mom literally just sent me a “Call me” text – and since we’ve had the conversation before about me freaking out and jumping to worst-case-scenario over “Call me” texts, she knows to let me know if it’s urgent or not. This is not urgent. I responded: “I will in a few!” Simple as that. I talked to her a few hours ago and this follow-up can wait, and she knows I still love her and WILL call her back (follow up is important). Whether you’re busy writing, reading, or just soaking in some silence and contemplation time, you are allowed to take the space YOU need to feel the way YOU want to feel.

In the same vein, be mindful of how you connect with others right now. Maybe they need some space, too. While almost everyone is in a heightened emotional state, honor if your loved ones need some space, too. This is a wonderful time to practice clear and kind communication both ways!

 

CREATE NORMALCY IN THE ABNORMALITY

Working from home and not used to it? Some quick tips: Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Put on real clothes. Schedule your days in your calendar. Take lunch breaks. Find your New, For-Now Normal instead of throwing all structure out the door until further notice.

 

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING

Do The Next Right Thing. It’s a common piece of advice for overwhelm, depression, and anxiety. Look way past the moment you’re in, and get clear on how you want to feel way after this has passed. Look at the moment you’re in and what’s being asked of you (literally or figuratively), and ask yourself how you can simplify your response to it. And then do the next right thing.

Who’s to say YOU are not the Next Right Thing the world needs right now? Who’s to say you writing that one poem, or reading that one book to your kids, or speaking up and staying home, won’t change it all for someone else? That poem might reignite your love for writing that leads you to your first book. That book you read might spark your kid’s imagination and lead them to develop a new passion. Speaking up and staying home might give someone else the courage to do the same, and that someone might be someone who later finds out they were carrying the virus that’s spreading like wildfire. It’s usually not the big grand gestures but the small seemingly ordinary ones that make the biggest impact. As Joan Didion said, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” Your ordinary instant might be the change you wish to see in the world. YOU might be the Next Right Thing.


WANT YOURSELF:

In the comments, share what books you’re reading, films you’re watching, recipes you’re cooking, workouts you’re doing, hobbies you’re enjoying, projects you’re completing, or any other way you’re being proactive and not reactive during this time! With so much up in the air (no virusy pun intended) some of us need your inspiration to help turn our days around right now. Let’s create a nice list for anyone who needs it!

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