Social media is perceived by many as an essential part of our life and yet in my day job as a clinical psychologist, I have come across clients who would describe themselves as ‘addicted’.
Some years ago, like many, I would spend hours, especially after a long day at work, unwinding in front of the TV, and simultaneously be on Facebook, checking messages, reading posts about everyone else’s woes or their perfect lives. I would read posts on LinkedIn or Twitter, and quickly become involved in random discussions, feeling frustrated at others’ opinions. After one such experience, I realised that none of this activity was adding anything to my life, my sense of accomplishment or my well-being. So I asked myself why was I focusing my precious time on getting caught up in other peoples’ lives and dramas instead of being fully present in my own life?
Here are a few of the reasons: everyone does it, I would feel left-out or miss out. I could be judged as uncool or people would forget I existed. I decided that at the end of the day, people will always have an opinion, and the ones who mattered to me, would not forget me.
The next step was to break the habit. I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do and “never had the time for”. I always wanted to write a book and so I began to write a few evenings a week rather than checking out the latest viral videos. Three years on, I published my debut novel. I also wanted to try my hand at knitting and in the last year, I have produced a little collection of jumpers. I read more and did a language course.
The point is it did not matter what activity I pursued, what mattered was that it gave me joy. I had created something for me that I was proud of, and that gave me a sense of accomplishment. It has certainly been a gradual process, but one that became easier, the more I focused on my life.
By Elisabeth Linley, Author of Lanesbrough Hall
About the author
Elisabeth Linley (Elisabeth Robson) has a master’s degree in Natural Sciences. She is a clinical psychologist and has worked in the NHS and private practice for over 25 years. She specialises in mental health and executive coaching.