Not only was I addicted to social media, I had become a yogi fraud

Lying in bed and holding mobile phone

Over the past 4 years I have been a freelance writer, blogger, marketer and social media manager. During that time, I have managed over 50 social media networks (including my own), clicking from one page to the next, finding enlightening clever things to write all-day every day and constantly checking performance, engagement… are we liked? Which even for the most confident, can quickly turn into, am I liked?

Growing online communities from 5000 to over 30,000 in a few short months, I even developed a Facebook following of over 20,000 people for my own personal blog, constantly chasing this fleeting sense of belonging and approval. Attached to my cell phone and computer like a baby’s blanket, seeking comfort in the form of likes.

The companies that I work with are all conscious businesses and/or nonprofit organizations, all offering products, services or events that brought something extremely positive to the world. The things I personally wrote about were about how to create and live a healthy life. My clicking motivation was heightened at the thought that with each new like, our networks were growing and somehow one step closer to changing the world, even in a small way. As I have come to learn, good intentions without mindfulness can quickly lead to the social media dark side.

The Social Media Dark Side

I would sometimes catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror after a “clicking session” only to see a frazzled, crazy haired, fuzzy eyed mess. I would walk away from the computer, and immediately start clicking on my phone, right back into the ridiculous social media hamster wheel of intermittent reinforcement that we all are trying to “win.”

As a regular practicing yogi, psychology major and someone who was literally posting the very messages intended to snap people into a heightened perspective or higher vibration each day, it’s not like I didn’t have the knowledge of what was happening. The conditioning gods of social media had officially infiltrated my brain.  Clicking, clicking and more clicking. I was in it and my self-worth started to be in the hands of random strangers liking my posts at 11am on a Tuesday.

How could this be happening to me?  I work with yoga and wellness companies, promoting healthy living through articles, social media, workshops and consulting advice. I promoted good health, mindfulness and the practice of yoga and meditation to tens of thousands of people on a daily basis. However, somehow, my tight shoulders up to my ears, stress levels, weird breathing patterns and frazzled mind would suggest I was working on Wall Street (aside from my yoga pants and perpetual messy top knot hair-do). Not only was I addicted to social media, I had become a yogi fraud.

I truly love to write and share and I really value the power of social media to share positive messages, promote real change in the world and to stay connected to the ones you love. I truly believe in everything I was writing about and saying, the issue was, I just wasn’t living it. Posting and writing about how to live your life, all the while I was an over-stimulated social media junkie.

It was at that moment that I decided it was time to focus on getting back to the place where I could speak truthfully from a place of presence and calm when putting anything out into the cyber world as myself or on behalf of any of my clients.

This isn’t a story of completely unplugging, although my first notion was to delete every social icon off my phone (which of course I did at first). Learning how to have a healthy relationship with everything in your life comes from harmoniously integrating it into your life, not letting it consume you or cutting it off completely. Here’s how I did it.

Social Media + Your “Real Life” Together in Harmony

10 Steps for Pro-active Care to Escape or Avoid the Social Media Dark Side (Remember, you are so much more than your “likes”)

Practicing yoga in bed

  1. Ground yourself. Before you get on social media in the morning, make sure you do something to ground yourself. Whereas the first thing I used to do in the morning was check social media, I started meditating, surfing, or going to yoga.
  2. Live what you say. i.e. If you write or post about yoga, meditation and living a healthy life, go to yoga, meditate and do healthy things.
  3. Be mindful, posts have energy too. What we put out into the world in any form (even a social post) has energy. Be mindful of what you are putting out there and what you’re giving away. This can be an effective way to reinforce your goals and aspirations, but can also create feelings of personal misalignment if your posts are not backed by authentic energy (as in my case). This is true whether you are posting on behalf of yourself or for a client.
  4. Unplugged weekends. Incorporate unplugged weekends into your life. No social media (or even better no computer at all) from Friday night to Monday morning.
  5. Leave your phone at home (It’s ok, you can do it. I do it all the time now). This forces you to be in the moment, and not capture it. Nothing to distract you from the people you’re with. If you have a compulsion to be “liked” just ask the people you’re with for some love.
  6. Send a powerful message to yourself. Go watch a sunset without your phone. This is a tough one, but if you can watch a sunset without taking a picture of it, it’s all downhill from there. You might even enjoy it a little more.
  7. Keep some things as little memory gifts for yourself. We don’t have to share every good thing that happens to us on social media. Keep a few nuggets just for yourself. It also makes it more fun to catch up with friends when you have some new things to share. Who knows, you may even get the reputation for being a little mysterious.
  8. Beware of the 5-minute impromptu post. If social media management is part of your job, set times to schedule your posts for the weeks ahead. Please beware of the 5-minute impromptu post. “I just have to post something real quick about something the Dalia Lama just said” can easily turn into 5 hours in the “clicking vortex.”
  9. Create Healthy Boundaries: Turn off your automatic alerts. Control when you go to social media, not the other way around.
  10. Honor the power of social media and use it wisely. “Social media sparks a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.” – Brian Solis

Recommended Reading

  • Reboot or Die Trying (Outside Magazine): A star political blogger for Grist.org, David Roberts spent so much time posting and Tweeting and staring at screens that he almost went nuts. So he pulled the plug for a year, restarting his relationship with technology and actively seeking health, balance, and adventure in the real world. What he learned just might save you from meltdown.
  • The Psychology of Social Media (Real Simple) What is it about screens that keeps our eyes transfixed and fingers a-tappin’? Psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of “Alone, Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” explains what keeps us tangled up in tech.
  • B.F. Skinner Likes Your F.B. Status (Ceasefire): More than half a century ago, behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner conducted countless experiments in an attempt to condition the behaviour of pigeons. Corin Faife explores some uncomfortable parallels between Skinner’s pigeons and today’s Facebook and Twitter users.

“The best journeys answers questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.”

10359210_10152372228837570_3025509234158297523_nI am writing a book about finding harmony between life and work (well, technically it’s been written in my head for 4 years… the “writing” part is a technicality).

India was part 1. Lessons? YES! Harmony? Um, 14 hour work days and hair falling out from stress – not so much.

Costa Rica is part 2. One week in… so far, so good!

I am determined to prove true harmony is possible, not just for me, but for every other person that seeks thphoto (12)is on a daily basis and has possibly failed miserably as I have in the past, yet, has not given up hope.

What I am continuously reminded of, here in Costa Rica in the week I have been here, throughout my travels, and life really… If you seek something with a true and open heart, TRUST that it will soon be all around you. 

unnamed-9I have no idea what I will find out about myself on this newest quest… but I have learned in the past, that sometimes you just have to listen to your heart, pack a bag, and get out there, let the adventure take its course. And don’t be worried about which questions to ask… the answers will come either way. In the end, the not knowing usually ends up being the best part. 

Title quote by Jeff Johnson via 180 Degrees South 

Back on the road.

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I have all my favorite things, my passport, a few one-way tickets, my music, my laptop, an amazing man lovingly supporting the need for my gypsy soul to hit the road for a bit (a promise he’ll join me soon), and lots of unknown; my favorite place to be.

 

 

A 5-minute meditation that will change your day (for real)

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Writing for me is a way for to express who I am, and sometimes to face the truthful things about myself that I would like to change (yikes, that is not easy sometimes).

I have been saying these words below (which I have never written down until today) every morning for about two years now (well, 80% of mornings). I promise you, when I take the less than 5 minutes it takes to sit down quietly and say these words, it makes ALL the difference in my day.

Now, I don’t start every day on a hilltop in Hawaii (as in this picture) and most of these things that I say in my meditation are yet to be mastered, (the grace when challenged is a work in progress), however, with every day that I say these words (out loud seems to be the most effective), and the more practice I have becoming the person I see myself as, I become more in alignment with these words, myself and everyone around me.

I am sharing these with you because when something really helps me in such a huge way, I am more than compelled to share (hopefully we all feel this). The second reason, is usually what happens is, once I get my own words out into cyber space it speeds things along in terms of me mastering things myself… so funny how that works.  So, simply by reading this and listening, you are totally helping me. So I THANK YOU in advance for supporting me to be more peaceful and graceful in the face of challenges (my boyfriend thanks you too I am sure ;) ) and for helping bring more happiness and prosperity into my life… know that I wish the same for you.

I encourage you to write your own (I put some resources below to help you) and take the time out for yourself in the morning (like I said, it only takes 5 minutes). What happens is, your own loving words will come back to comfort you throughout the day… or in some cases, slap you in the face… i.e. “um, Traci, that’s not very graceful.” and when they do, remember, you asked for it.

Here’s mine: 

“I am a beautiful & extraordinary being. I see the higher being in myself and all those around me. I trust in myself, my spiritual guides, and in the universe to continue to guide me on my path towards amazing love, patience, grace, wisdom, intelligent compassion, humility, health, happiness and prosperity in all areas of my life. I am grounded and peaceful as I gracefully move through the challenges in my day, knowing they carry with them certain truths about myself and opportunities to practice virtues I have asked to learn. I am patient with myself and others in this process. I am so grateful for all of these lessons, all that I have, and all that is to come.” – Traci Wallace (70% Gypsy + 30% Businesswoman)

p.s. Saying I am beautiful & extraordinary being feels a little braggy at first… I thought to myself, “I am?” the first time I said it… “Is that too braggy?“… then I moved on, knowing that we all are, humans are amazing. We all need to recognize that in ourselves and each other WAY more than we do… starting with 5 minutes of recognizing your beautiful self a day is a perfect start.

Resources

Oprah on Developing Spiritual Muscle & “making space for flow to show itself”:  

“For me, meditation reorders the natural flow of life. Everybody has a flow or stream of consciousness that allows all things to move without resistance. Decisions come easily, things fall into place, and there’s no conflict. You’re vibing with life ’cause you’re in the flow. Hopefully, we’ve all had glimpses of that way of being. How do you hold on to it? Practice consciously making space for the FLOW to show itself. Meditation is a way to get you there.” – Oprah (Developing Spiritual Muscle)

How to Write your Own Meditation + Tips to making it a part of your day