Coming Off Facebook – Awareness, Discomfort, Freedom

The short answer to why I have come off Facebook is rooted in these questions:

  • What is most important to you in your life?

  • What do you value?

  • What are your passions?

  • What brings your life meaning?

In a nutshell Facebook was taking me away from what matters most to me in life.

Trying to find meaning

The longer answer is that I have grappled with these questions for a long time. They caused me much angst and turned me into what my friend, lovingly called a heat seeking missile for wellness.

Struggling to find meaning in my life led me to study hard. I trained, I attended therapy groups, courses, workshops and talks. I worked with therapists, counsellors and coaches trying to understand what had happened, why life felt so hard.

Although things improved mightily I was still plagued by periodic feelings of depression, chronically low self-worth, anxiety and a myriad of other limiting beliefs about myself and life. I learned to manage and cope reasonably well, I thought, but my body had other ideas. It didn’t just invite me to pay more attention it demanded it by flooring me with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

What has all this to do with coming off Facebook?

Let me explain.

Not a snap decision

Coming-off FB was not a snap decision although in the end it happened in an instant. It was in fact a long process I began while recovering from CFS. During that journey I learned more about what I really wanted from my life and about some of the things getting in the way of that. I worked out what brings me joy and what my passions are. In other words I found many of the answers to the questions I posed at the beginning of this post. 

More recently while studying META Health I started to question more. I was reminded about what it feels like to live in alignment and flow and I saw that I had gone of course a bit. I never seemed to have time to do many of the things I love, why not?

Here comes Facebook, the great time waster and distracter from all that really matters in life.

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Awareness

In order to have any hope of changing we have to know where we are. In other words we need to become aware of our current state of affairs. This can be a painful process. Moving out of denial and beginning to shine a light on what is so in our lives, can be excruciating. 

I have written about Raising Awareness before. I believe it to be the number one place to start when we wish to change. This is what I did regarding my FB use.

Telling the truth

Shining a little torch light in the shadows of my own life is one thing, sharing it publicly quite another. I have been humming and hawing about what to say about coming-off Facebook because part of me feels resistant to sharing my truth.

I could tell you a story about the need for more space in my life, about wanting to do other things with my time, about the desire for real connections and it would all be true, but I would not be telling the whole story. 

Ashamed

I have felt very ashamed about my relationship with FB. I didn’t want anyone to know just what a struggle I was having to control my use of it. Like my father’s repetitive visits to his booze cupboard I wore a path to my screens. Like any “good” addict I made excuses and created stories about why.

  • I need it to stay in touch with people.

  • I’d never have connected with x, y or z without it.

  • I need it for my business.

  • How else will I know what’s going on?

  • There’s so much genuinely interesting stuff on there.

  • The groups I’m on are so helpful and supportive.

  • I love sharing stuff on my business page.

  • How else will I advertise events?

  • Everyone is on there now, so I have to be too.

  • Some things just don’t happen except on FB.

On and on go it goes, reasons why I had to keep on looking, checking, scrolling, liking, commenting and creating. 

Discomfort

There are threads of truth attached to all the above but they do not explain the relationship I found myself in. They don’t explain what it was that:

  • Had me on there for longer than I wanted to be

  • Saw me choosing FB over things I love to do, that bring me joy and pleasure.

  • Left me half listening to my loved ones as I read some, at best, acquaintance’s comments.

  • Kept me scrolling down yet again past things I’d already seen, looking for something new.

They don’t explain the promises I made to myself and broke.

  • Tomorrow I won’t look at FB till after I’ve meditated, had breakfast and got ready.

  • I won’t take my phone to bed.

  • I’ll only go on till 10am.

  • 15 minutes then I’ll stop.

  • I’ll only check my groups and nothing else.

  • I’ll just create content not consume it.

  • I’ll only engage with my business page and forget the rest.

Whatever I told myself, whatever I tried I constantly spent more time than I wanted to on FB. I knew I was not in charge of my use and I hated it.

The final decision

The discomfort of my increased awareness came to a head the weekend before I deleted my account. I had a terrible migraine. My planned day abandoned to a darkened room and my inner self talk.

Lying there reminded me of all the times I lay in bed alone floored by CFS. It brought up many sad and uncomfortable feelings and I wept. But somewhere in what felt like delirium I heard the instruction clear as day. 

“You need to get off Facebook.”

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An opportunity to heal

I believe the collection of symptoms called CFS came into my life to teach me and to offer me the chance to live a happier healthier life.

How else can we know when we are off course in our lives other than through the dis-ease or dis-comfort manifest in our body, mind or spirit?

Our symptoms are a course correction alarm going off, a red stop light calling us to pay attention and to get back on track.

Gradually, over the last 6 months or so I realised that in order to have even greater healing in my life I needed to make another layer of changes. It scared me. Change means stepping into the unknown, it means leaving the safety net of here and stepping out there.

Listening to myself

When I saw my clients taking steps and actually making changes in their lives I sometimes felt uncomfortable. Somewhere inside a little voice whispered, “and what about you Mairi?”

I knew I was avoiding some of the radical changes I needed to make, so a few months ago I engaged in a deeper level of clutter clearing. As this process proceeded I sensed I also needed to make some more profound changes in other areas of my life. This clutter clearing was not only about the physical stuff, the material clobber which clogged my life up, it was taking me into much more profound levels of letting go.

What I really want

My relationship with Facebook increasingly fell under the spotlight and I saw it was sucking me away from what I truly desire, from the actual direction I want to go in in my life. 

I want want a simpler, calmer, more deeply connected life. 

Facebook promised me something it could never fulfil so I’ve quit, I’ve deleted my account and launched out into the void of social media freedom. All sorts of thoughts and feelings have surfaced, questions about:

Connection,

Belonging,

Loneliness,

And Addiction.

To name but a few. 

Freedom

I have time to think and write now, time to reflect on what this freedom from Facebook might mean not only for me but others who choose this path. It is my intention to share more about this process, about how these radical acts of self care not only help us to heal but they also have a deeper meaning for all of life on earth.

“Radical self care radiates out into the world sending ripples way beyond what seems immediate and obvious.” Mairi

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