The problem for me was that I was always comparing myself to these people, and in many cases they were people who didn’t even play a significant role in my daily or personal life anymore.
And yet I would become emotional inside, reading about their latest joy, triumph, or romantic relationship, and I would either feel bad about myself and my position in comparison to their own -– or I would feel “satisfied” that I wasn’t in their shoes. I observed my thoughts during these times and realized I was jealous and judgmental of others.
Now, to a certain degree, comparing ourselves to people in the world around us is human nature.
But when it became an intense, daily (usually multiple times a day) experience for me on Facebook, I understood that it wasn’t healthy. Even as I started to realize that my behavior wasn’t healthy and that I didn’t feel good, I told myself that “everyone is on Facebook, everyone does this,” (not true – there are plenty of people who are not on Facebook, as I have found in the three years since deleting my account).
Occasionally, I would find myself gleaning something positive from Facebook, such as inspiration from another person, or a tid-bit of information that I found useful.
But on the whole, I would sign off and feel inadequate.
I remember having several poignant conversations with friends, mentors, and family about my desire to leave Facebook. I thought hard about what it would mean to erase my 1000+ contacts or “friends” I had on Facebook. I also didn’t want to let go of the thrill of posting my own pictures online, hoping that people were impressed with me, and checking how many “likes” I had gotten.
In the end, I decided it was healthy for me to delete my account. And I was right.
After I deleted my account, I still had a strong desire to sign in and check up on people for about 2 months, since it had become a daily habit. So I replaced Facebook urges with visits to “POPSUGAR” and “US Weekly” online websites as a sort of interim drug as I weaned myself off of Facebook. Celebrity gossip provided a similar, substitute sugar rush. I joined Twitter, which allowed me to post occasional photos, but where my focus was largely on reading news articles, rather than looking people up.
Slowly, I also learned how to do mindful activities when those old urges to sign into Facebook arose.
For example, getting up from my desk for a drink of water, or even taking a walk around the block. Calling a friend. Reading an inspirational page from the book I carried around in my purse. Or staring out the window and taking deep breaths for 2-3 minutes, placing my hands on my thighs and my feet on the ground.
Not being on Facebook has had a profound effect on my daily life, and how I see myself.
I feel more confident and mature.
Releasing “Facebook” allowed me to let go of all the superfluous attachments to people and concepts that I had been holding on to. It allowed me to connect to myself, and ultimately, to God, in a more meaningful, slow, and grounded way. And I felt happier in other areas of my life, too. I wasn’t comparing myself to other people and feeling inadequate on a daily basis. I felt blessed and grateful for what I did have, instead.
Shortly thereafter, I met my future husband and also started practicing yoga on a regular basis.
Some wonderful life changes were thus able to manifest in my life once I cut out the excess rubbish.
…to read more of Kristen’s writing visit The Huffington Post.