Your friends call you a perfectionist. As a child, you sat eagerly at your desk, awaiting the results from your latest exam. Despite most of your friends being content with a B+, you were only truly happy with 100%. While achieving 100% on school tests is possible, the habit of demanding 100%in order to be satisfied with your performance, may limit your learning later in life. That’s because real-life is not about perfection. In fact, if you regularly ace everything you try, you aren’t adequately challenging yourself. To remain optimally engaged in the learning process, you must push yourself beyond what you have already mastered. Otherwise, you will become bored and lose your edge.
Why We Learned to Aim for 100%
Society sets us up at an early age with a massive fear of failure. While most young children are willing to try almost any activity, we lose that enthusiasm by the time we hit puberty. We worry what people will think of us if we don’t do well, and we learn to give up on things that we don’t master right away. Yet, staying in that fearful mindset will cause you to miss out on both the joy of the learning process and your ultimate success. You are unlikely to grow if you don’t make any mistakes. Staying in activities that you easily master may give you a momentary feeling of comfort and security, but it will limit your learning in the long term.
Why 80% Success Is Better for Optimal Learning
In order to maximize your learning potential, aim for a success rate of 80% during the learning process. For those over-achievers out there, I imagine you are now twitching with discomfort. Yes, 80% means that occasionally you won’t be successful in what you try. The important thing to remember is that we don’t actually receive a grade in life. As adults, we get to decide our own measurements for success. Keep in mind that as soon as you achieve your goal, or learn what you set out to learn, you will naturally raise the bar. That keeps you engaged, allows you to learn faster, and constantly increases your skill. Consistently aiming for a success rate of about 80% will give you a feeling of mastery, while ensuring that you continue growing.
1. Write down what you want to learn each week
The simple act of writing down what you want to focus on will keep the information fresh in your mind. That way, when other things come up, you can stay focused on your specific goals. Remember to choose goals that will keep you at the optimum 80% success rate.
2. Keep track of how you spend your time
Before you start any new project or take on a new activity, spend some time writing down how you currently spend your time. You likely have a busy schedule, and any new activity will give you less time for what you already do. Decide what is essential in your schedule and what you would be willing to replace with your new activity. Be careful not to overload your schedule. If you are already working at full capacity, don’t add more. Instead, replace a less important activity with the new one you’d like to learn.
3. Increase or decrease difficulty based on your rate of success
Keep track of your success rate each week. If you are regularly mastering more than 80% of what you planned for yourself, consider increasing the difficulty of your activity. On the other hand, if you typically achieve less than 80%, ease up and make next week less challenging. In this way, you will stay optimally engaged on a consistent basis.
Don’t worry too much about the exact numbers. The most important part is to keep yourself stimulated by taking on challenges you haven’t yet mastered. The overachiever in you, who strained forward in her desk to see her exam score, may feel a little disappointed at first but that’s ok. Once you get in the habit of challenging yourself, the acceleration in your learning will speak for itself. Soon you will find yourself able to tackle challenges that your old perfectionist self never dreamed possible.
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.