E064 - Social Media and Personal Growth

communication safety social media vocal liberation Apr 28, 2024

Given my focus on voices, self-expression, and communication, I am fascinated by what happens when we post on social media! Some of my own responses have included avoidance, embarrassment, wanting to take posts down, feeling like I am too much, judging how I look, feeling like a fraud—and more! 

This week I’m sharing some insights into using social media as a tool for unblocking your voice, and how using these ‘toxic apps’ can produce all sorts of strange reactions inside us… like shutting down, or feeling exposed or embarrassed when we take up space in people's email inboxes or on social media. Identifying and understanding these feelings can be a powerful tool for deconditioning and setting new, healthy patterns. Watch the video or continue reading below to learn more.

Posting on social media pushes our buttons about being visible and seen in the world and can reflect our relationship with how we feel in groups. It shows us whether we're prepared to take risks in groups, like sharing a stupid cat meme or something even a little a little bit more saucy and salacious.

I'm fascinated about the funny stuff that happens inside us when we see a picture of ourselves and we start judging it. We have particular things—"That side of my face isn't good enough," or "I don't like my nose," or "My hair looks funny." All of the kind of stuff that happens inside us when we see pictures or watch video of ourselves and hear our own voices.

A myriad microphenomena arise in the act of considering and then posting on social media. And of course, the piece de resistance is what happens inside us after we post, where we might think, “Ooh, did I make a boo boo, did I just do something weird?”

Or do we just feel okay, and we forget about it? Or we may wait to see people's responses and who liked it, or who commented and what did they really mean? There is a symphony of experiences going on inside us when we post on social media, and I'm no different.

In this post, we're going to investigate these microphenomena, and how we can use them to go deep—to decondition, to no longer be captured by constricting, negative, less-optimal patterns. 

A first useful place to start is, what are your feelings about social media? Do you enjoy it? Do you hate it? Do you have both going on inside you? Do you have a healthy relationship with it? A lot of us have complex feelings about social media, and totally fair enough.

I mean, it could be the end of our civilization happening as we scroll through the apocalypse, right?

But it's worth acknowledging that we have complex feelings about it, because that matters when it comes to posting for your creativity, for your work, or for your business—all of these subtle feelings come into play as you try to do this.

So we may have a whole host of saboteurs on board, judging us, telling us it's not safe or we shouldn't brag or we shouldn't take up space or whatever else it might be. And these arise in the background and stop us from showing up for our marketing and our sales efforts, or just from sharing our work and our ideas on social media.

So let's get into it a biggie: how do you feel about your face? I think this is a really complex question social media challenges us with. There’s so much visual social media where we show our faces, or we're photographed at a social event and it's on social media, and it can bring up very self-critical feelings. We can have very complex feelings about the way we look, and these feelings are often unexamined.

So if I have a pattern of not liking something about my face, and of shrinking and shutting down if I don't look good in a photograph, that's a piece of conditioning that comes over me. I look horrible, and I feel bad, right? That's unexamined conditioning, but we can work with it to dismantle it.

A lot of it is inherited from family, from culture, from our adolescence, and we're literally running these programs so that they're rolling on and on and on in the background. So if your feeling about your face and your body when you see it on social media isn't “I love myself and I appreciate myself and I do my best to love and accept myself just as I am,” then that's an area that's ripe for deconditioning!

Immediately adjacent to that is how you feel about the sound of your voice. Our voices sound different in our heads to how they sound on recording, so it can be a big shock to us when we hear them played back and we hear our accents, or we think we sound nasal, or our voice is too high or too low. We can have these really strange judgments about our voices that are usually unexamined and that we just accept as being true.

Again, this belief is totally worth dismantling, because no one judges your voice the way you do! So dismantle and decondition your response.

When you're writing a post, you may feel overwhelmed by second-guessing and overthinking. Maybe we have fun ideas, but what really comes through is the edited safe version, where we try not to make any mistakes, not ruffle any feathers, and just do things that will be accepted. So this is another opportunity for deconditioning—noticing, “Oh, am I shutting down? What's going on here, am I opening or closing? Are my ideas opening or closing?”

You’re not stuck with that pattern for life if you’re willing to do some work on deconditioning. So work on releasing the pattern.

Another microphenomenon: how often do you think of posts or imagine posts or half-do posts that never see the light of day? And what is the mechanism that shuts down that piece of self-expression from happening? I think that's really curious, and is something really interesting to work with. Why is that happening? It definitely happens with me.

Another microphenomenon is to pay attention to who we picture judging or criticizing or noticing our posts, who we want to impress, and start to catalog or list who those faces are, and do some work with that. Because they're just avatars, pictures inside our head, and we export our sense of shame and embarrassment and being not good enough to them.

But they're just a figment of our imagination, someone we've created in our head. They might exist in real life, but we are using them to export our shame and self-criticism. If we own back that projection, we can begin to release that ghost or demon from the system and begin to express more freely when we want to, and get our work and our ideas and our creativity out into the world.

Another microphenomenon is to really pay attention to our bodies and our emotions and how we feel as we're clicking Send or sending a bulk email. Is there a free, open feeling inside us? Or is there a constriction or shutting down or some fear?

Lastly, but also vitally, is what we feel after clicking Send, after posting. Perhaps we come back to look at the post, or we think about it afterwards... Many of us will ruminate and brood, thinking “Is it a good post, is it not a good post?” Wondering how many likes we’re getting, responding to comments, and perhaps reading intonation into comments.

There can be complex stuff going on inside us, genuinely scared young parts of ourselves that are just afraid or insecure. And we can work with them too, rather than just avoiding or ignoring them, or even avoiding social media and not facing these afraid, insecure, young parts of ourselves. There's an opportunity to work with and liberate  them, to bring them home and teach them to feel safe in the world, to just express and be okay with what comes out.

In summary, this episode is all about paying attention to the microphenomena inside us that arise as we express ourselves in the world on social media. What goes on, what kind of energy and enthusiasm arises versus what constriction shuts us down.

And there's this incredible opportunity with these constrictions arising to do the deconditioning work, to do the work of dismantling systems that operate in the darkness, that keep us smaller, keep us from thriving in the world and expressing cleanly and clearly with enthusiasm and joy.