Continued...🖥💬🙄 Internet Excess and 'Fair Use' Policies

When the web became a difficult place to be, I would notice this about myself: On posting, I felt a sense of relief for having completed whichever task I needed to complete to be able to share it. I felt pleased with myself for the 'completion'. Excited usually and nervous about how it might be received. Quite quickly I felt a creeping angst and impatience taking over me: I would need to know what the feedback for my offering was instantly. So I would check. Often. Reports might say . '12 people have viewed...' They might say '120 people have viewed...' It did not matter, because I will still wanted to know that the next time I would check -which would always be soon-the report would show an increase in viewings/likes/comments.

My subconscious brain got very excited at this point. It LOVED that it could tell me that whatever it is I had to share wasn't enough: not bold enough, not stand out enough, not true enough... Because the 1 or 100 views and 'likes' simply highlighted all the absences. All the people who didn't click, look or comment. And then I would get ratty. Ratty at the indifference of the internet. Ratty for thinking myself worthy and putting that stupid thing up online in the first place and then even more ratty at myself for making it matter so much. Because it doesn't, not in the way I was trying to make it matter and it was always ME making it such a big deal...

If I choose to let my subconscious mind help me govern how I use the internet then it becomes a dark and difficult place, where I am trapped in a grim cycle of emotional dependency on never-manifested validation. I walk the path of peeping into the lives of others to compare myself to them, again looking for evidence about myself and my lack of qualification to participate in this sphere. Basically, I beat myself up for not being a mermaid yet.

Let my conscious, rational, adult and able-to-be-self-compassionate mind be in charge, and I sit easily with the simple reality: I get to choose. I get to think about how I scroll or don't scroll. How I regard and explore the online lives of others and how they relate or don't relate to my life. I get to choose how often in a week/day/month/year I visit social media pages. I get to set the time I spend. If I notice that I use these places to feel bad about myself, I get to stop engaging. I get to decide what fair use is for and to myself.

When I felt proud of us as a species and the way we use the internet, I was right. It is a great tool for community. It is a beautiful place for ideas to be shared and freak flags to be flown! Its a great place for socialising with and even confiding in people you would never otherwise have met, a place to find your people and be accepted for the truth of who you are. I love using it and can't imagine myself without it. The convenient immediacy of being able to maintain friendships over seas and lands, the safeness of the space for sharing work is invaluable. All of these aspects make it so very seductive and hard to banish.

My decision to be more intentional about how I use the internet emerged organically. It feels so obvious on this side of my reflections. There is nothing else I recognise in my life that I keep doing if it makes me feel rotten about myself or induces such intense impulsive behaviours - and if there is, I need to take a long look at it and try to unpick what lies beneath, but crucially stop doing it. It feels appropriate and healthy to think through and shift my perspective on how to engage with myself and others through the web. As with anything of this sort, it takes effort and mindful focus but it really helps!

For reflection...

  • How does your engagement with the web/social media make you feel?
  • How do you feel when you reach for it?
  • What are you telling yourself about yourself when you use it?

Continued... 💭 Acceptance

Previously I have cringed in shame at remembering her or felt a sharp sadness for her, because I know how desperate she felt and how much she was trying to channel herself in the right way, without really knowing what she was looking for.

She was trying. She was failing and falling down and being embarrassing and breaking things. Somewhere in the mess of being, she was learning about how to be an independent person, how to stay safe emotionally and physically and that she could expect and aim for so much more than red faced mediocrity in every part of her life. Its too easy to remember those days and blush. This is where I need to continue to challenge myself to 'do the work', because if all I garner from those difficult and testing experiences is a sense of shame and an arsenal of tools for self flagellation, then I am missing the point. I am missing the opportunity to identify learning and personal growth.

The 'work' is thinking about what I did and the choices I made, using them to help me open up and know myself. This involves taking responsibility for foolish or self serving decisions that potentially hurt people or myself, but also being able to recognise that I did what I thought would work at the time, without having the experience, answers or hindsight to guide me. Each painful consequence to an action had something to teach me about myself and the world. It is up to me to reframe the way I regard my past self and acknowledge that every little battle fought and scar attained is as much part of my readiness now to fulfil my purpose as the celebrations, the successes and toothy-grin moments are. After all we are multifaceted and complex beings. Of course we are not made up of only sugar and spice.

Making mistakes, being selfish, getting it wrong and being embarrassing are things every human on the planet can own up to, yet as a default so many of us still feel a hot prickle of shame about our mistakes and return mentally to them, dwelling on the emotion of the event and using them them to beat ourselves with.

My past self is part of me now as much as she isn't. That tired, bewildered but determined young woman deserves more than my embarrassed pity. Sometimes, I can easily accept that she did foolish things and I can understand. Sometimes, I really struggle and I judge her harshly. The willingness to come back later and accept yourself right where you are, as the sum of the mistakes you have made as much as of the successes, even if you don't completely understand yourself, I am sure is the key to being able to move yourself forward.

To be able to be in a respectful partnership with yourself, to actively trust yourself for another try and another, even if the first time(s) something didn't work takes hard work and intention and effort. Forgiving yourself  for past mistakes and being able to regard yourself with compassion also takes effort. By returning to your own memories with new eyes and trying to pin down the learning, the important rites of passage, the revelations and finding a way to let yourself off the hook, you begin to work at accepting yourself. Its a daily challenge and for me still a work in progress. Meeting myself on the train to Cheshire and feeling a level calmness about letting her just be who she was, I realised that my hard work at all of the above is paying off.


For reflection...

  • Is there a decision or memory that makes you cringe or self flagellate?  (what if your greatest learnings came from those awkward moments?) Can you re-frame it and think about it in a different way?
  • What are the positives you can pull out of that experience? What did you learn?
  • Which of the memories that you rerun in your head can you set an intention to let yourself off the hook for?