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How I Stopped Letting Social Media Manipulate Me (And Why You Should Do It Too)

How I Stopped Letting Social Media Manipulate Me (And Why You Should Do It Too)

As a blog editor, getting inspirations from different sources including the social media is simply what I do every day. I love reading all the interesting posts and videos on Facebook and looking at the amazing photos on Instagram; they’re all stimulating and can always inspire me the next topics to work on.

But there’s a downside for visiting the social media too often — you somehow get addicted to it easily. One more photo, a few more posts, and maybe a few more videos, and that’s how I’d just keep scrolling down the feed on Facebook at 12am.

It’s not healthy, for my eyes, my brain and my soul. I knew it, but it’s just hard for me to stop checking it so often because it’s really what I needed to do, it’s for my work, and it’s not really taking me that much time…

Well, that’s obviously an excuse.

Because as I was on Facebook, I saw the whereabouts of my friends and the exciting lives they’re leading. I also reacted to different kinds of things like the funny videos, the cute pet images and the latest music videos etc.

I couldn’t help but always craving for the latest updates of everything, and I felt like what others had in their lives were the things that’s missing in mine — that’s when I knew it’s time for a social media detox.

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We get triggered easily by what the social media shows us, leaving us little time to process our emotions, especially the negative ones.

Even though you somehow know that most people only show the world what they want others to know and how they want to be seen in the social media, you can’t help comparing their lives with yours the moment their stories pop up in front of you — being sweet with their partner, hanging out with a bunch of fun friends or traveling around the world.

If those people are your friends, maybe it’s easier to know if the pictures are a lie or not; but a lot of times, we’re following public figures we don’t actually know in person, and we have no idea how these people’s real lives are. That’s when we easily fall into the trap of believing in everything they portray in social media and letting them make us feel bad about ourselves.

Our brain is wired to want to be “in the know”, so we’re fearful of missing out stuff if we’ve got used to knowing everything in the social media.[1]

I guess that’s what happened to my brain when I went on the social media too often. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

The more I wanted to get to know the latest stuff, the more I couldn’t put off my phone to just browse over my Facebook and Instagram. It’s like an addiction and I felt bad about it because I didn’t feel like I was in control of this. I didn’t feel good about it.

Then I remember someone said to me before,

If there’s anything that makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Period.

So I decided to stop being passive about what the social media gave me.

The first step to make me feel better was to get rid of the things (and people) who made me feel bad.

The friends who we never interact with in real life or online, the friends who are just posting too much about their personal life, and the public figures or pages who may just be exaggerating too much of their lives or spreading negativity around, I unfollowed them.

Then, I muted all the social apps’ notifications and hid them inside a folder on the last page of my phone.

Yes, this is what I do:

    The benefit of doing this is that every time when you unlock your phone, you’re on the first page of it and you don’t get the temptation to randomly go over any of the social platforms so easily.

    This really works for me.

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    I also set social media time limits; but instead of just restricting the time of using it, I kept the time without social media interesting.

    Instead of setting rules like 1 hour of social media usage per day or social-media free weekends, I focused more on how to make the time so interesting and fulfilling that I wouldn’t have time to check on the social media.

    Activities like hanging out with friends, talking or dinning with your family, reading a novel or playing sports or playing an instrument almost need your full attention, leaving you no time to go on Instagram or Facebook.

    Whenever I hang out with friends, I put my phone inside my bag and try to enjoy the moments I have with them. And do you know what’s the best part of this? When you’re not taking out your phone to check out the updates on Facebook, your friends do that too!

    I do have a stricter rule I set for myself though, it’s to keep my phone away from bed so I know when it’s time to sleep I should really go to sleep.

    I’ve stopped letting the social media control my life, and I can still get writing inspirations from it.

    You may ask, “what about your work? what about the inspirations?”

    I’m not quitting social media, I’m just limiting my use of it and its bad influence on me.

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    Social media is not evil, it’s how we use it that makes it have bad influence on us.

    Since I’ve already unfollowed the things and people that would make me feel bad, I can focus more on what really matters to me — be it the news, information, knowledge, and even people.

    And I no longer have the urge to never stop scrolling the feed on Facebook or Instagram because I don’t really have that much time to restlessly looking at those things. I have an interesting life with lots of real and amazing friends, a lovely family and plenty of hobbies.

    I didn’t think I could make it but I really did. And I didn’t even need to completely quit it to take control of the use of social media. Try it, I think you can make it too!

    Reference

    More by this author

    Anna Chui

    Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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