Maybe you have the same feelings I do about social media: love and hate. I love getting to stay connected with my friends who live in other states and countries. I love seeing photos of the children in my family. I love supporting friends and family through celebrations and disappointments. I love reading inspiring quotes, finding cool new people, exploring awesome business offerings like workshops, events, courses, and books, and participating in close-knit groups.
But I hate how addictive social media can be with its endless scrolling. I hate its negative social impact particularly on the self-esteem of teens and children as well as the spread of misinformation and incitement of violence in recent years. I hate how it can easily be a superficial front for our lives that lacks depth, intimacy, and realness. I hate how for many people it replaces real-life relationships like hanging out in person and talking on the phone. I hate that it’s too easy of a distraction from life in the flesh with all its human messiness.
And yet, I see a real opportunity for me. One I’ve been chewing on for quite some time. What if I could use social media in a way that was an extension of my soul work? In other words, what if social media could be a tool for my own healing?
Last spring I embarked on a series of personal growth experiments. At the time, I had started writing again on my blog so I charted my course with several posts to capture my lessons and learnings. The experiments started with giving up watching shows and movies whether on television or the computer.
It was such a successful experiment I decided it only made sense to keep going and kick social media next. My findings were incredible. In fact, I’m having one of those moments now where I read something I wrote in the past and think, “Hot damn! Who’s the wise woman who wrote this!? Not me, surely.”
My experiments didn’t lead me to completely give up TV or social media. I still use both. The difference now is that I have a far more conscious relationship to these common addictions than before. I know when to turn off the TV and put down the phone. I’m clear that social media is a way for me to stay connected with people I may otherwise not, like coworkers and friends in other states.
I’m very pleased with my relationship with social media today except for one thing. I feel trapped inside my own social media accounts. What do I mean by this? My social media is a reflection of my relationship with other people. And with many people in my life, they don’t really know me.
What they know about me is super one-dimensional. Like my work friends know who I am at work. My family knows more about me but it’s still super 2-3D. Their views of me are often lacking the biggest parts of who I am, mostly due to differing worldviews, which I’ve been working to improve over the last several years with success.
Because I’m friends with many people on social media who don’t really know me, like the parts of me that actually matter to me, I don’t even bother to be or share these parts in that space. That’s not the case all the time. I have shared several intimate, written pieces from time to time, but it has always taken immense courage and a period of intense vulnerability hangover afterward.
Ultimately, I opt to not share those sides of myself. Instead, I keep it safe and play the basic game. You know the one? Where you share updates about your dog, recent vacation, or an upcoming change at work. Maybe you post photos of your graduation, the family dinner for grandma’s birthday, or the really pretty flower growing in the flowerbed next door. Basic. Ass. Shit.
Yes. The picture I paint for everyone is super basic. There’s no one to blame but myself for that. And yet there’s sooooooo much more to me than these basssiiiiccccc things. This basic shit isn’t the whole picture. Yea, but, if I’m tired of sharing basic ass shit, then what would I share instead?
Easy. My writing. My contemplations about life. My passions. My interests. I’d write on Facebook or Instagram. I’d share my thoughts more publicly rather than sequestered away in my own little corner of the internet. (Yes, I do share my writing on Instagram but it’s a writer’s page and I don’t share about my writing on my personal page very often, if at all.)
Why don’t I share more of myself on my personal social media accounts? Because I’m afraid! Ahhhh!! Real Monsters! I’m afraid to expose myself to unwanted negative attention. I’m afraid of revealing myself and others not liking what they see. I’m afraid of losing “friends.”
Ironic, are they really “friends” if they don’t know the real me or if they would stop being a friend if they knew? And do I even want them as a friend if they don’t like the real me? Yes, logical inquiries arising from a logical mind. Now back to the illogical, wounded child…
I’m afraid of offending people. Specifically, I’m afraid of offending coworkers and losing respect. I’m afraid of judgment. I’m afraid of being seen as “too serious” or “not fun.” I’m afraid of being seen as “uncool” or for being “too deep.” Because being deep isn’t cool, apparently, in a culture that idolizes the funny, lighthearted, and energetic types over the quiet, inquisitive, contemplators who wonder about the mysteries of the universe.
[Yes, thank you, all my personal criticisms are on clear display here. You’re welcome. What are yours? 🙂 ]
What I ultimately come to in this inquiry is that I’m waiting around for others to make it safe for me to share more of myself in the public space. The absurdity of this is ridiculous when you consider the fact that most people aren’t even capable of creating psycho-spiritual safety for themselves. Why on earth would I believe they are capable of creating it for me? Here we have clear evidence of the illogicality of my wounded child.
In reality, it’s my responsibility to make my social media accounts safe enough for me to post. It’s my responsibility to make the relationships in my life safe enough for me to share my truest self. I need to be the nurturing parent my wounded child is looking for in these situations. No one else is going to do it.
What does this even look like? It looks like allowing my sensitive, truer parts of self to come out and play more often. It looks like working with the nurturing parent (NP) archetype to be the chaperone of these experiences, the curator of a safe container, which demands that I have a fully capable and fully resourced NP to begin with. Which I do, now.
The NP would keep an eye out for any behavior from others in my social sphere that doesn’t feel good to these more sensitive parts. The NP would intervene to ensure these parts know that it’s still safe and that she has their back. The NP would speak up for these parts and establish boundaries where needed. In my internal world, the NP would keep self-criticism at bay and encourage only loving, compassionate, and supportive self-talk.
The NP would be prepared ahead of time. She would anticipate that people’s adverse reactions to what these sensitive parts share. The NP would fortify my sensitive heart and create healthy distance for anticipated in-person encounters, creating space for the transformation of relationships, for better or worse, as affected by online content shared by my truest self.
The NP is the savior here. I know she can help save my wounded child. I also know that she can resurrect my social media persona; the authentic me. And if she can do that, maybe I can completely transform my relationship with not only social media but with myself.
What have we learned here? Yes, I do think that social media could be a profound tool for self-healing. Does this make it any easier to embark on this journey? Hell no. It’s all fine and dandy sitting here with you, talking about it in my own little, secure corner of the internet. But the work comes when I actually employ the NP and work to heal my wounded child.
Why, though? Why do any of this? Because I want to go to the next phase of this soul journey. I want to know what my soul’s gifts are and contribute them to this earth community. Part one of this journey is healing these childhood wounds and maturing psychologically into the one who is fully resourced physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But right now, this piece plagues me. It’s the piece calling for my attention. It’s my responsibility to heal it.
Yes, social media is scary. It’s scary for more reasons than one. And right now, it’s one of my tools for healing.