Social Media and Comparison-itis

Mindfulness & Mental Health

Last week I saw a post in one of the Facebook groups I belong to. One of my fellow members has a son who has decided to look into to how much screen-time adults have, on the belief that adults are on their phones more than children are.

Well. I do believe he was right. For pretty much as far back as I can remember, I’ve been dealing with anxiety, partly about perfectionism, and partly social comparison. Over the past year or so I have noticed that the social comparison part of this has gotten worse. I am finding it harder to see other people’s success or talent and be excited about it, like I used to. Now, it feels like competition. And I’m usually the loser.

I really, really don’t like this feeling. It was wonderful to see someone do something awesome and feel inspired, or just respond to their work as a reader/viewer. This space of judgement sucks.

Last time I was in this place, I worked on my self-acceptance, and this feeling went away. While I am trying the same approach this time, I’ve discovered that I need to work harder to get the same results.

So back to the experiment. We were asked to download a tracker app onto our phones (I’m on Android so got QualityTime) which shows our usage. The first day I had SIX HOURS of screen time. Imagine what I could have got done in the time that I was checking in on my phone? My average for the week so far (Sat – Thurs, so 6 days) is 4h 15m, with social media taking up about 2h of that time.

Now, there is definitely value in social media. I have made some beautiful connections and very real friendships. It helps build my presence as an author / artist, and also helps sell my books. I can help other creatives out by sharing their work, too.

But do I really need to be on there for two hours a day? I don’t think so. Do I need to be researching, or checking emails, or getting advice from <insert expert here>, or whatever it is I’m doing for another two hours? Definitely not.

I feel that this has something to do with the feelings of comparison-itis. If I am scrolling through other people’s highlights for so much time in a day, and reading or listening to other people’s advice (people who I deem are higher up the food chain), then maybe it’s only natural that this feeds into my social comparison.

Phase one of the experiment ends today, when we will send our stats in and get back suggestions to reduce our usage. I look forward to sharing my reduced usage time with you, and letting you know how I am feeling next week!

From the Bookshelf: re-reading self help titles

Uncategorized

I like re-reading books. I am a definite re-reader. I’ve read the Narnia and Harry Potter series more times than I can count,  and I love indulging in The Hobbit. But I re-read non-fiction for a different reason.

Non-fiction, for me, is not an indulgence or a leisure activity – it is specifically to learn. The first time I read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it helped me out of the helplessness of depression / anxiety. This time, I want it to prevent me from falling down thst spiral in the first place.

It also helped me get my book written and published. My personal goals were around confidence and perseverance and the book guided me to build those traits, slowly but surely.

This time, it’s about courage to build my own ideal of what adulthood means (I’m at that funny age of 27 years) and to see myself as so.

The other book I’m re-reading is one I first read just a few months ago: Big Magic. It’s Gilbert’s memoir, essentially, but also a beautiful permission slip to go out in the world and create; to play and explore and celebrate.

It’s entitlement to be here; the arrogance of belonging.

And when the detachment of depression hits,  there’s nothing like a sense of belonging.

So there’s a pile of fiction teasing me with foreign worlds and delicious sentences, but this week’s for learning, and preventing the ‘black dog’ from setting its teeth in.

Focusing on the long term

On Writing, Thoughts & Ramblings

At the end of last year, I gave this year two priorities: production and publicity. As the year progressed, the strength of my focus on these priorities started to fade, and I believe this is what caused me to start feeling disillusioned about a writing career.

Production is important because I want to put my work out into the world – this is why I am publishing my work. Publicity, or ‘getting my name out there’, is equally important if anyone is going to hear about my work. I enjoy connecting with readers and other creatives, going to craft markets, and sharing my ‘writerly life’ with children. So what got me off track?

I had sales goals and social media goals that were supposed to be subsidiary to my priorities, but they became my focus. The fact that I was actually reaching my sales goals got me all excited – I had set them higher than I really thought I could reach, so it was a thrill to see it happen.

But I got *too* caught up in them, for several reasons. One was, as I said, that it was exciting to see them climb. The other was that my self-worth was a bit low, and so seeing numbers, and support, and lovely people being lovely became coping strategies.

When I was focused on my long term goals, building the base for a career, and actually producing creative work, I was happier than I am now, and the business side of things flourished naturally. Art-making comes first, sharing my work comes second, and everything else builds organically from there.

Personal Growth: Getting used to the new you

Thoughts & Ramblings

If you’ve been following my posts at all (whether on here or a social network) you’ll know that I’ve made some leaps and bounds in personal growth. I’m more confident in myself and my abilities, I try new things, and I believe I am – and can continue to be – successful.

The last few weeks have been particularly fantastic. Kicking off with the NZ Book Festival where I met some inspiring people, then the New Lynn, Mt Eden & Hospital markets, where I sold a grand total of 31(!) books. On Friday I met with two shops interested in my work, one of whom has ordered a stack of colouring books, and finally the Colour Your Own Adventure exhibition for ArtWeek Auckland.

On top of that, I attended a brilliant seminar on independent publishing from the perspective of the art & design world which left me enthused to start some zines (Wikipedia: “a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier.”) I’ve decided that this is a better format for me to express my writing journey and learnings than a traditional book, though I may make the zines available for purchase digitally as well.

And just in case that wasn’t enough, the wonder of a person that is Jacqui Be approached me with the idea of an author seminar on mindset and marketing, which I immediately said yes to, and is full steam ahead now. I’m chuffed to be working with Jacqui and so looking forward to sharing my personal mindset shift with other writers (Facebook link: Action Authors).

BUT. The last few weeks I have also felt frustrated, angry, depressed, anxious and upset. I realised yesterday that this is just a side-effect of the personal growth. I am not the person I was five years ago; I’m not even the person I was this time last year! I’m a whole new person now, more true to myself than I ever have been, but I’m finding it hard to adjust and put the ‘new me’ out into the world.

I know it will settle, and I’ll be stable for a while until the next round of personal growth kicks in, but right now I’m struggling to shed my old skin and let the new one shine. I’ll hang in there, and in the meantime, count my blessings 🙂

 

There is nothing you need to do

Thoughts & Ramblings

In my ‘Monday Musings‘ (title due to change, maybe. Or not. We’ll see.) I mentioned a workshop I had been to over the long weekend – in bio-dynamic cranio-sacral therapy.

After that weekend, I felt GOOD. I felt free – my body felt free – and I felt more grounded (which sorta makes sense, because we did a lot of meditation based on grounding and centering).

This leads to the point of this blog post. As I said, we did a fair bit of meditation. Cranio-sacral therapy relies on the practitioner being in a state of balanced awareness. This allows them to really listen to the needs of the client, and respond with gentleness and specificity.

The meditation & grounding was guided. Twice, the line ‘there is nothing you need to do’ came up. The first time I heard it, my reaction was, ‘Yes, there is!’. I could probably have rattled off a list right there on the spot of at least ten things I ‘had’ to do. (I didn’t, of course, but I stored that line away for later reflection).

And now I am bringing that reflection to you. I find one of the biggest hindrances of my own progress is the worry I feel about the other things that I need to be doing. Like, right now I am writing this blog post, but in the back of my mind are voices telling me I should be catching up on filing, or writing, or painting, or tweeting people I haven’t tweeted for a while, or replying to emails, or going for a walk, or… I think you get the point.

This comes back to mindfulness as well. Fellow writer Amanda Staley and I have talked about this on many occasions (she also picked up on the theme in The Caretaker of Imagination). Mindfulness is the art of living in the moment; of appreciating where you are right now, and doing what you are doing. It is something I need to consciously make an effort to do, or I get lost in thoughts of what else I should be doing – and ironically means that I get nothing done!

Right now I am blogging: there is nothing else I need to do, there is nowhere else I need to be. All I need to be doing is immersing myself in this post, in this idea, and trying to communicate it in a way that brings out the heart of the matter & hopefully prompts you to think a bit more about it.

So, whatever you are doing now is all you need to do. I’d love your thoughts on this topic – please do leave a comment below ❤