One of the most popular movies of the last few years is the Disney film Frozen. It tells the story of a young witch princess called Elsa who is told to control her powers and lock herself away, so no-one knows who or what she is. She spends years locked away from the world. Because of her frustrations, her powers, instead of diminishing, only grow stronger as they are tied to her emotions.0*
Locked in her room, the years pass her by. One day (on her coronation no less!!) she finally snaps. She has to let it out, let it go. No matter what others think, she cannot be anyone, but herself. The song “Let it Go” is Frozen’s centrepiece and the central theme of the movie.
Let it Go!
It is no wonder that this movie has resonated with so many people, children and adults alike, because don’t most of us keep big or small parts from ourselves locked away from others and even ourselves? And don’t we all wish we could just “let it go?”
What we lock away from ourselves are usually things we are afraid of. Fears, unwanted desires, traumatic parts of our history we claim to have forgotten. We lock all of this in a box which we hide in the depths of our being and go through our days pretending that what we don’t know and feel does not exist. We succeed for some time, but later all this unfinished business comes back to haunt us.
An Identity Crisis
This is why beginning a journey to find ourselves and our true personality is hard for a lot of people, and too difficult for most. The start of the journey asks you to look inward, to open your box of fear and work through old negativity and pain. It asks us face your fears and deal with all the layers of conditioning you accumulated over the years. You have to reach your inner core, and the road to it can be long and painful To truly “Let it Go” we have to not only confront what we hide within, but also ask if our behaviours are truly ours. Is this who we learned to be over the years or is this who we really are?
Often our true identity gets “locked away” without us even noticing, because we want to be how we think other people that we love or respect want us to be. This is why many people face an identity crises later in life. They get to a point where they see half their life gone and have no idea where it went. They realise they have never (or rarely) done any of the things they truly wanted to do. They build so many versions of themselves to please others, they don’t know which one is their own. Often it’s the one they ignored the most. Which leads us back to that box of fear.
Lamed Aleph Vav
In Kabbalah they speak of speak of the road you must travel to reach Lamed Aleph Vav, the 11th name of God and The Great Escape that banishes the ego – meaning our fears, learned behaviours and hidden emotions. We become a new person changed for the better. Well, you don’t have to join the Kabbalah to go on this journey. There is an easier way to reach this stage. But be aware, it takes time, so the most important thing is that you have to want it. To begin your journey, try the following steps
Take a few minutes every day, that are just for you. Put on some music to help you concentrate, sit or lie down and slowly withdraw inwards. Look at the timeline of your life. Where and when did you begin storing things in your hidden box of fear and emotion? Why did this happen? Do you still agree with this?
If not, look further inward to find the box itself. Take the box in your hands and open it. Pick out one item at a time. Focus on it, realise what it means and what you have to do with it. Now ground yourself, like a tree and LET IT GO. Feel it sink into the earth.
You don’t need to go through every emotion at once. If you have a lot of pent up emotions and memories, stop after two or three emotions have been dealt with. You can come back to the box whenever you want to. Even if you have only a few issues to deal with, you may still need to do this a few times. But every time you do this, you will notice that there are less emotions to deal with. One day, the box will be empty.
“To exist is to change…To change is to mature… To mature is to go on creating oneself…Endlessly…” – Samuel Avital
Facebook is embedded into lives around the world. We use it to connect with friends, share important milestones, and check in with the news. However, what may seem like harmless scrolling can become harmful if it takes up inordinate amounts of time and turns into a Facebook addiction.
The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the symptoms and psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below you’ll find the common causes, and the good news is that, once you’ve identified them, you can implement specific strategies to get over your Facebook addiction.
Do you find that the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your phone and scroll through Facebook? Is it the last thing you see before falling asleep? You may have a Facebook addiction. Here are some more of the signs and symptoms:
You end up spending hours on Facebook, even when you don’t mean to.
You use Facebook to escape problems or change your mood.
You go to sleep later because you’re glued to your screen.
Your relationships are suffering because you spend more time on your phone than you do talking with the people you care about.
You automatically pull out your phone when you have free time.
You can check out this TED Talk by Tristan Harris to understand how Facebook and other social media gain and hold our attention:
Psychological Reasons for a Facebook Addiction
A compulsive Facebook addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are often root causes that push you into Facebook, which can ultimately manifest as an addiction once you become dependent on it. Here are some of the common causes.
Facebook can cause procrastination, but many times, your tendency to procrastinate can lead you to scrolling through your Facebook feed.
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, right?
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 likely doing it because you’re lonely and in need of attention or 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.
Social comparison is a natural part of being human. We need to know where we stand in order to judge our rank among our peers. And Facebook has made this all too easy.
When we get into Facebook, our brains are bombarded by hundreds of people to compare ourselves to. We see our cousin’s amazing vacation to Europe, our friend’s adorable baby, our brother’s new puppy, etc. Everything looks better than what we have because, of course, people are only going to post the best parts.
This extreme form of social comparison with a Facebook addiction can, unfortunately, lead to depression. One study pointed out that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others”.
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.
Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior if overproduced. 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.”
Fear of Missing out (FOMO)
Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your Facebook 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.
One study found that “a high level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are predictors of Facebook intrusion, while a low level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are related to satisfaction with life”.
Therefore, while you may feel temporarily glad that you didn’t miss something, research shows that FOMO will actually reduce your overall life satisfaction.
How to Break a Facebook Addiction
Now that you know some of the causes of a Facebook addiction, you may be ready to break it. If so, follow these 5 steps to get over your addiction and improve your mental health.
1. Admit the 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.
2. Be Mindful of Triggers
In order to discover the triggers that lead you to use Facebook, ask yourself the following questions. It may be helpful to write them down at a journal.
What did I do? (scrolling, sharing, notification checking, etc.)
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? (a stressful event, boredom, etc.)
How did this make me feel? (stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc.)
Once you’re aware of what pushes you to use Facebook, you can work on tackling those specific things to get over your Facebook addiction.
3. Learn to Recognize the Urge
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.
Have a plan for when you feel the desire to use Facebook. For example, if you know you use it when you’re bored, plan to practice a hobby instead. If you use it when you’re stressed, create a relaxation routine instead of jumping on Facebook.
4. Practice Self-Compassion
Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. 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.
5. Replace the Addiction With a Positive Alternative
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.
For example, download an app to help you determine exactly how much time is spent on Facebook so you know how much of your life you’re losing to it. Then, when you find a healthy alternative, you can feel good about all the time you’re giving to it!
Facebook addictions aren’t uncommon in today’s technologically dependent world. In the pursuit of human connection, we’ve mistakenly taken our interactions online, thinking it would be an easier alternative. Unfortunately, this is no replacement for genuine, face-to-face interaction in real life.
If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to tackle it. Get started today and improve your overall well-being.