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5 Psychological Reasons You Are Addicted to Facebook and 5 Ways to Break the Habit

5 Psychological Reasons You Are Addicted to Facebook and 5 Ways to Break the Habit

Hi. My name is Daniel and I am a recovering Facebook addict. Whew, it felt good to admit that out in the open. With that confession out of the way, I’d like to help you understand why you are addicted to Facebook. I’ll even provide some easy steps that you can take today to break the habit and be more productive.

The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below are five common ones that I know very well.

1. Facebook scrolling is a symptom of procrastination.

Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing. Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, huh?

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2. Facebook over-sharing is a symptom of loneliness or indecision.

Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it. You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re doing it, because you’re lonely and desperate for approval. Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

3. Facebook creeping is a symptom of misplaced affection or unhealthy self-comparisons.

Facebook makes it easy to be a creeper. There are two primary causes of creeping and neither of them are pretty. If you’re creeping the profile of your ex, then you’re probably living in the past. Seek professional help if you are struggling to let go. If you’re browsing the profile of a crush, then you’d be better off actively pursuing them. Send them a thoughtful message to get a conversation started. If that goes well, ask them out on a date. Creeping could also be a form of self-inflicted misery. It’s already hard to resist the human urge to compare ourselves to other people. Facebook makes this convenient to do.

4. Obsessive checking of Facebook notifications is a symptom of impatience or people-pleasing.

Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things like food, sex, and drugs. Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry. If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like”, your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

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5. Obsessive refreshing of your Facebook feed is a symptom of a fear of missing out (a.k.a. FOMO).

Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your feed during a date, because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive, because a friend might have something exciting to share. Never mind that you might turn off your date or wreck your car and die. The possibilities are endless, so it’s totally worth it. That was sarcasm if you didn’t notice. I’m being dramatic to demonstrate how reckless these behaviors are.

If you’re ready to break your addiction to Facebook, follow these five steps.

1. Admit you have an addiction.

You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed. Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

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2. Be mindful of the triggers that provoke the habit.

Every psychological trigger I discussed here won’t necessarily be relevant to you. That’s okay. Focus on the ones that are. If you’re not sure, here’s a reflection exercise that might be helpful. It will reveal why you’re having such a hard time breaking the habit. Record the following details in a diary or journal until you identify some common trends:

  • What did I do? (scrolling, over-sharing, creeping, notification checking, or feed refreshing)
  • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
  • What happened right before? (if a stressful or upsetting event occurred, that could be significant)
  • How did this make me feel? (use a descriptive adjective to describe your mood before and after the incident)

3. Consciously acknowledge the habit for what it is.

This step will break Facebook’s hold on you as long as you can be consistent. Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior — NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step #2, because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

4. Practice self-compassion during the process, no matter how frustrated you might get.

Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Psychologists consider procrastination a misplaced coping mechanism. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted. Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless, because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

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5. Replace the habit with a positive alternative that you can track or measure in some way.

It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed. The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste. Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

This is going to sound ridiculous given the subject of the article, but…

Would you please pass this along to your friends on Facebook? I don’t mean to demonize the website entirely. It’s a great place to stay in touch with the people we care about. Even so, it’s time to break our addictions so we can achieve our purpose and enjoy the company of the people right in front of us.

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Her iPhone Outside/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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