I have noticed something over the last couple years that I have never been able to quite put into words myself. Something that I have even done myself and seen with close friends.
It can be a heavy subject because I see these small hints that are really clues to things much bigger in our lives. Primarily, on social media, when people start to grab for attention; specifically when they talk about pain points in their life and new habits/goals/realizations they are having and striving for.
This is an elusive
Multiple Motives Undermine the Nobler Ones
An Example from Myself – Laugh Away
Here’s an example of what I am talking about. Just a few years ago, I was going through some tough times (as tough as this privileged person can claim, at least). I was struggling with my personality, being an introvert and rather bookish. I hoped for progress in my relationships; romantic and friendly.
I didn’t catch it when I was in the act, but much later in life when I started getting ‘This day in your post history’ type reminders on Facebook. Sometimes, you read those posts and smile. Good times. Mostly though, you cringe, “Why did you ever say that Chris!?!”
You see, I use to post song lyrics of popular love songs. I usually put meaning to the lyrics and had particular people in mind. I would post the lyrics and hope that I passively communicated my adoration for the particular girl I fancied at the time.
There is always someone who commented on it and tried to figure out what the heck I was doing. My reply was the ever-clever, “Oh, I just like this song. Thought I would throw the lyrics up.”
I was trying to work past being shy, yet when I did things like this I undermined the whole process. I wanted a quick fix and resorted to passivity and a very low form of self-worth.
Growth and Maturity are at Stake
When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.John Lennon – Not someone I will Quote often
This is just one version of what I am trying to illuminate. There are things that we are working through personally that are really long processes of growth and maturity. Very often will we post something about it that has ulterior motives.
You know, those motives that propel people with above average fitness affinities to post a workout pic with the caption, “Some days I feel ugly. :p” We are trying to say one thing but masking it in another.
The closer that whatever you are posting about is related to your psychological health and maturity the more you undermine your best intentions by broadcasting those types of things.
Few Examples to Think About
Let’s think about it like it’s the scientific method. You have a great experiment running, to truly better yourself. But you broadcast feelings, emotions, and progress reports for the masses, which is actually leaking something into your experiment.
For your test to truly work, you have to make sure you are isolating one thing at a time. You have your constants and then your variable. If you add two variables, say an identity issue you are trying to overcome AND you are trying to be seen or gain popularity by sharing this, you are actually undermining your total experiment
You are contaminating your results.
As you watch the 23 likes come in and the 3 comments from relatives asking, “What’s the matter” you will feel for a moment like you are making progress. Except when the likes stop rolling in you are left feeling miffed and disappointed in how much other people didn’t pay attention to you.
While trying to pursue your main goal of running the experiment you find your ulterior motives; those longing for public consumption and popularity.
Maturity like a Publication
To continue this thought with another image, think about a newspaper that is known to be biased. They talk about current events that are actually happening, yes, but the story they come up with can never be trusted.
Why is this?
They tell just enough of the truth that when they interject their opinions, at first glance, the story seems plausible. It seems believable.
Given this fact and that most people aren’t privy to digging deeper for the real truth, the falsehood prevails and everyone except the newspaper or show loses. They make their ad money and you are clueless.
How does this relate to you?
When you are truly struggling with something but broadcast it, you are starting out with true events. But, what always happens is that in the midst of wanting to get other people to really pay attention, you embellish, you glamorize, you paint yourself as a victim, and/or change the overall arch of your story.
Yes, you are struggling. You are needing to make progress.
But when you broadcast these things, you are diluting your message and psychologically hijacking yourself at this exact point.
When you are in the trenches trying to work on things that you desperately need to work on, you are very vulnerable. Any little switch of mood or attention can change your motive toward your goals. It’s like resolving to not eat excessive amounts of sugar, but then tamper your intentions by choosing to just finish all the sweets and treats that are already in your home.
You pushed back your progress at least a couple of days and chances are, those couple of days are enough to distract you from this goal. You end up thinking about it a few weeks later and feel horrible.
What I Really Mean by ‘Broadcasting’
I keep saying this in terms of ‘broadcasting’ yourself. Here is what I am really meaning by this word. You may have to reread the entire article again to catch what I was really trying to say.
Broadcasting is something you do when you are trying to send out a piece of communication to a large consumer base. The point in broadcasting is for 1) your message to reach as many people as possible and 2) get as many of these people to pay attention to what is being communicated. Lets call these two things, reach and popularity.
In broadcasting, something specific is being done with the information that is being sent out. It is being tailored to make the biggest impact that it can.
Why are television shows so fast paced and comedic? When do radio programs try to get callers to join a conversation? Why do instagram promoters send out the most luxurious pictures they can get a hold of? Attention.
On top of this, the more current the technology we are using the more metrics and data-driven it is. While on social media, the whole ecosystem is rigged to grab your attention and to have you create
Everything has to be hard-hitting or else everyone stops showing up. That means, when you want something to be seen, you need to make sure it is shocking, beautiful, pitiful, vulnerable, or inspiring
How many of our day to day live’s fits any of those descriptions? Few. How many of our posts try to portray that? Most.
That means we are the masters of spin. When we broadcast our emotions and our ‘authentic selves’ we are hijacking the progress we are trying to make. We are spinning our stories and psychologically paying the price.
Spin is Rewiring Our Brains
When we spin these stories we are literally altering the way our brain is remembering these events. The brain doesn’t ‘store’ memories. It remembers them. And every time it ‘remembers’ a story, a motive, a moment, it is actually rewriting that memory.
The stories we spin, over and over again, are the stories we start to believe because those are the only stories that we are remembering.
Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event but what you remembered the previous time. The Northwestern study is the first to show this.From https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2012/09/your-memory-is-like-the-telephone-game
Now, that you know what broadcasting is doing, I want to give you a few ways to get things off your chest but not alter your motives and subsequently destroy the progress you are trying to make in life.
Real Ways to Talk about Your Progress and Struggles
The researchers concluded that telling people what you want to achieve creates a premature sense of completeness. While you feel a sense of pride in letting people know what you intend to do, that pride doesn’t motivate you and can in fact hurt you later on.From https://www.inc.com/melissa-chu/announcing-your-goals-makes-you-less-likely-to-ach.html
What we want to do is make progress and grow in the areas we are most wanting to grow. If we shouldn’t tell everybody, what should we do?
Journaling for Growth
Probably the first thing that I would recommend you try is journaling. And I am talking the spill your guts kind. Why?
I think one of the things we are most needing to do for our psychological health is telling the truth. But, more specifically, telling ourselves the truth. Now, I don’t want to try to explain this in detail because I don’t think I could effectively. But, when you write and are brutally honest, you start to make some progress.
A tool that I want to give you is this paid program. Self Authoring Program. I will let that website tell you the details, but essentially it is guided writing, that if taken seriously and with a good investment of time/thought it is proven to help. It has a few components, but of note, the first deals with your past and making sense of it in light of what you have taken from it.
The second is the future authoring, and that helps you articulate a path forward. The research is solid that this helps you. It helps you articulate where you are at and what sort of trajectory you can determine would be helpful. This is a really interesting tool that I hope you at least look at.
Accountability Partner Helps Maturity
Having just one person you go to (or rather they come to you) is very important. This person will help you be honest with yourself and not let you get away with the small things that you both determine are important.
This person is someone who you give more access than most people in your life. It is good to even start the whole thing by giving them permission to ask the hard questions. Just make sure this person is trustworthy and will be more help than not.
Set Limits on Social Media Use for Self-Health
A general thing that helps is to just stop the comparison train right where it happens. Slowing down or temporarily jumping off of social media is probably one of the simplest ways to give yourself a boost in your short term mental health. There have been a lot of studies showing that different aspects of social media turn you into a sub-par version of yourself. Ditching it might just be a great thing for you today.