The Power of Choice and Social Media

I hear complaints from people about Facebook fairly regularly, about how negative it is, or how much drama there is. The people who complain about it usually add that they find spending any amount of time there tends to drag them down. A few of my friends have even closed their Facebook accounts because it got to be too much for them.

I don’t find it to be that bad, actually. Sure, I’ve got some really amazing friends who are, on the whole, pretty positive people. On the other hand, I’ve got over 1,000 “friends”, from people I went to high school and university with, to people I have met at various personal development courses, and people from my spiritual community. Not everyone is going to be positive and cheerful all the time.

I don’t really understand how it works, but Facebook has some algorithm that determines what will show up in your news feed. It has something to do with who you have interacted with in the recent past and what types of photos/links/status updates you have liked or commented on, as well as what you have blocked or hidden. Or something like that. I think.

I imagine it is kind of like “reticular activation”. That’s a fancy way of stating, what you focus on, you get more of. So if someone is being consistently negative, or sales-y, I hide them from my feed. I don’t want to see that. I skim over the really gross or upsetting ones. If someone I know well is having a bad day, I’ll offer my <3 and {{{hugs}}}. I “like” a lot of the pictures and articles that are positive in nature. Like this one:

This came up through a friend on Facebook the other day. And I had tears. Good tears. THIS is what I talk about with my clients and my students about choice and perspective. You never know what another person is thinking or has experienced. Everything you tell yourself is a made up story. Sure, it’s easy to make up the story that someone else is out to get you. It takes effort to make up the story that they were oblivious to you, or having a really bad day. And yet, I find my world is so much better when I choose to run my experiences through the filters of compassion and understanding.

Am I perfect at it? NO! Does my mind run away with me and drag me into a pity party sometimes? Absolutely. However, the more I exercise my muscle of choosing to see things from a different perspective, the easier it becomes. That muscle gets stronger. I’d like to sat that eventually it will become my default. I’m not sure, though, because I’m not there yet.

So until then, I’ll keep working on choosing my thoughts, and seeing my experiences in a way that gives others the benefit of the doubt, rather than falling into the rut of thinking that everything is about me.

How often to you fall into default mode? Have you ever had a time where you found out later that what you thought was true wasn’t?

Here are a few tips to help choose your thoughts:

  • Breathe. Taking three deep breaths helps to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and gets more oxygen to your brain, which is important for thinking.
  • Observe. What’s really going on? Be impartial and stick to the facts as much as you can.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you want to be treated?
  • Make up a different story. Pretend you’re making a film, and someone else is the main character. How would you want it to turn out?
  • Meditate. (Can’t leave that one out!) Meditation has tons of benefits, at least one of which is being centered and connected.

I look forward to hearing your experiences in the comments below!



PS. Need some help meditating? Check out these free guided meditations!

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