working through shame

The way I’m going on about changing my relationship with my phone/ social media, you might as well make a drinking game out of it. But it’s really affecting the way I am and my life, so I think I should write about it.

It’s been a while now.

There are people I have been watching who have got rid of their smartphones all together and replaced them with old nokias or flip phones. I personally love hearing them talk about how they did it and how it’s impacted their lives. My favourite person to watch is Harmony Nice, she seems so centred and actually put the idea in my head to just bin off the phone. I watched her video the same day that I watched the social dilemma, and it really quickly shifted my ideas and made me question my life choices.

As I mentioned before, I got rid of all social media apps and turned my phone to grayscale. I access Instagram and facebook through my laptop but that’s the only way I use them.

I use my phone for messages, the camera, spotify and safari. Then there’s apps like NHS track and trace/ various uni apps that are there for convenience but not to just sit and stare at.

My screen time has been cut drastically and it has definitely made a difference to my life. Obviously I’ve been waking up and haven’t had a reason to touch my phone for ages, so I’ve just been getting on with my day. The other day I didn’t go on it until the afternoon, it hasn’t actually been attached to me. I’ve been able to read a lot more, focus better. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, so don’t want to say that I have it because I don’t want to disregard a persons struggle with it if it turns out I don’t. That said, it has been assumed by myself and people around me that I have it because the way my brain works is sometimes textbook ADHD when you read about it. I always need a task, I’m always thinking about a million things at once and if I get unstimulated or bored my brain doesn’t stop- I just get unbelievably depressed. I also don’t have much spatial awareness, but that’s unrelated.

Since being off my phone, my brain has quietened and become so much more manageable. I’ve felt better for it. I now reach to journal/read/paint or do something actually engaging where I would have had that knee jerk reaction of reaching for social media to post or tweet out a thought. I do feel like this is a far better use of my time, and when I got into that flow of scrolling through social media I would feel my brain whirring for hours after. By consuming so much media (especially at such a fast pace using apps like tiktok) I feel like my brain just never had a moment to be by itself- I could never think for myself or get things done. There would be some idea artificially planted in it, it just wouldn’t shut up. It could be really draining.

I have also felt a lot less hopeless. Social media can be very reactive especially in times of national crisis, and it is easy to become quite extremist in terms of belief and emotion. It can be easy to feel like the odd one out. In being alone and only talking to people through messages, I feel better about my relationships. I feel less alone. There are necessary barriers between my thoughts and the thoughts of those I enjoy the company of.

Because I haven’t had that noise, my creativity has improved. I’m doing this project at the moment where I draw the same thing everyday, apparently this helps creativity. I can see it working, and I have less distractions to throw me off. I have also been reading a book called ‘the courage to be disliked’, which is helping me come to terms with some important things. 

With all the pros of this life change taken into account, there are definitely areas of discomfort that come from not engaging with my phone the same way. Harmony spoke about how when she gave up her phone she was just crying for two weeks as she recognised that her phone was used as a tool to repress her discomfort. I can definitely see how that may be the case. I feel quite fragile at the moment. I am re-evaluating who I am as a person and feeling a lot of shame from the past come up. Shame about who I am as a person, what I’ve said and done. I’m also feeling kind of withdrawn and confused about everything. I think I’m just adjusting, it’s like coming off something in a way.

I am learning that the way to become at peace with your shame is to be more forgiving of hurtful traits in other people. We create separation between ourselves and others as a tactic for protection.

This year, I realised key differences between myself and others (including some friends). The way we are growing in different directions tells me that there are some people I have to let go of in order to keep growing without returning to a place of being triggered, or being treated like an outdated version of myself.

Sometimes being around people that no longer fit can hurt you more than it can to let go. That is not to say that letting go or surrendering to the separation cannot be hurtful too.

If we feel hurt from a situation, it is easy to take on the role of a victim. We can forget the role we played in hurting them, or making them defensive.

I guess if we run from shame and embarrassment, we feel the need to constantly prove we are good enough. We only acknowledge one side of the story or shy away from details. And one day it can all catch up to you that it’s all a bit of a performance. It becomes hard to take accountability.

Shame can be a side effect of taking accountability. In order to get to a state of balance, you must know that you’re not a victim- you are a player in an interaction between people.

You did things to hurt someone, or trigger someone- and you bared the consequences.

Part of taking accountability for your past is accepting the fact that there are other people going through what you went through, and they can be hurtful towards you.

I am a very sensitive and emotional person, which isn’t always obvious. Sometimes I have a superiority complex, but for a while in my past I had the inferiority complex. Emotions hit me hard and can often affect my perspective.

The authenticity of who I am and the image I am willing to accept and broadcast felt blurred towards the end. I think that’s what brought on this need to come off and clear my brain a little bit. I like learning to have moments with myself without the impulse to share everything for now.

The more I learn to accept myself and admit to others that I am far from perfect (which is how I gain wisdom), the more I feel deserving of asking for support.

I am a person who will listen to criticism and use it (even when it is hurtful) to look at ways I can improve myself. Because I am willing to face the nasty sides of myself, I need support in my personal relationships. Criticism, even in jest, when I am going through a nerve touching transformation makes me hurt and bitter. As I am working on myself, I feel more worthy to ask for encouragement in my relationships. There is an air of transparency and rawness between myself and the people in my life, which I enjoy.

I am learning to see that not everyone in the world is against me, and I am learning how to make relationships with boundaries.

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