by Christy Gualtieri
Which one of the Beatles was your favorite?
George Harrison was my favorite Beatle because he seemed to embody the personality type I never had, but always wanted. Ringo was goofy, and therefore quintessentially relatable; John was a creative genius, a flame to which all creatives are drawn; and, like me, Paul was “the cute one” (ahem). But George was different – unassuming, talented, and smart, he was content to be the quietest of the four and therefore, to me, the one who said the most.
I mention this because those qualities are as elusive to me as other ones I desire: self-surety, wisdom, and the ability to break the addiction of checking my smartphone.
That last one, the one about my phone, was sort of accomplished for me this week – the other night, while cleaning up, my phone fell out of a blanket I was folding and was just…demolished. The screen had already cracked once due to a prior drop, but it was workable, and so I had no real problem with it. But this time…it was a goner. Half the screen turned black, and the other half relentlessly flickered, washing what was left of the image in a sickly yellow tone. (I fully understand how much of a first-world-problem this is, by the way.)
It had been bothering me recently, how much I checked my phone, and I began to see it as a real hindrance to living out my life more fully in the present. The first thing I do when I wake up? Check my phone. Want to see what the weather is like? Instead of looking out of the window, I’d check my phone. Making dinner and the kids are underfoot? I’m just going to mentally check out and…check my phone. When my phone broke, for just a second there, I was…relieved! I was free! I no longer had the pulsing desire to check my phone every twenty minutes, because there was no phone to check! I had done it! Immediately, my mind turned toward the possibility of retreating into the woods and living out a Thoreau-type-lifestyle for the remainder of my days, accountable only to Nature and my own imagination; but then, once a few more seconds went by, things got real.
I wasn’t shaking or jones-ing for my phone the way addicts physically desire what they’re addicted to, but I sure thought a lot about it. And the problem resolved itself relatively quickly: I needed a phone – like a real, working phone that could give and receive calls. And my husband, who is a whiz at many things involving electronics, was fairly confident that he could replace the screen on his own, saving us the cost of a new phone, and therefore restoring all of its capabilities: phone service, texting, and the bane of my existence, unfettered access at any point in time of my day – the Internet. The black hole into which whole hours of my day could fall into, if I let them.
And I let them, which is a problem. And there are so many reasons why I did: studies have shown the increasing levels of serotonin when someone gets an email alert; living with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out); and mostly, just as a way to stave off the utter tedium that comes with the territory of nursing an infant and having a preschooler who sometimes drives me up the wall.
So now that the screen is being repaired, it’s up to me to do the heavy lifting when it comes to lessening the hold my smartphone has on me. I’ve heard that setting a time once or twice a day to check email or social media sites works for some people; turning off notifications is another option. Just trying to ignore it is another. (We’ll see how it goes – I welcome all suggestions in the comments!)
Maybe you’re like me – you have something in your life that’s holding you back from living more in the present. Something you do to escape from the pain, from the boredom, from the overwhelm. Maybe it’s not checking your phone, but heading straight for the Oreos, going after that eighth cup of coffee or grabbing a smoke. Do you have a habit in your life that you want to break, and need help with? You’re not alone, friend! So many of us are with you in it. And, honestly, I think the hardest part of dropping my habit is dealing with what’s left. I’m left with myself…and I have a feeling that how you see yourself is what is going to decide for you whether or not you want to drop your habit.
Do you think you’re worthy enough to benefit from a healthier focus? If you don’t, then when you’re overwhelmed and upset, you’re more likely to return to the thing you want to change the most about yourself. But if you can find it within yourself to break your habit in a healthy way – for you – then you might have more success!
Let’s do it, together!
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!