A few weeks ago, you might remember that I wrote about phone addiction, which is something I'm really struggling with. Shortly after I wrote that post, I was talking to my friend Reba Riley about my problem, and she offered to help me out! I'm so thrilled to have someone to work with as a I strive to overcome this, as we all know how hard it can be doing it alone. As Reba and I work through this, I'll be sharing some guest posts from her here, featuring her wisdom and insights, so you can learn along with me.
A bit about Reba... She is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, television commentator, and life coach, who created TransforMotion: a coaching method focused on emotional transformation through physical action. Above all Reba is a friend committed to helping me — and our Positively Present community — overcome the challenges we face. My issue is the phone, but I think you’ll find her advice applicable to a wide range of struggles. Keep reading to learn about how Reba is helping me to tackle this tough situation!
When Dani reached out to me about her compulsive phone use, my first thought was Courage.
I told Dani it takes tremendous courage to recognize a problem behavior and even more to ask for help.
We often overlook this everyday valor, because it doesn’t square with our idea of being brave. Firefighters and soldiers are the courageous ones, we think — which is true! But their bravery does not negate our own.
Courage is not about comparison: it is the act of taking the next right step in any situation you find yourself in.
I call this “Couraging” — because brave is a verb. It is something you choose to do. Dani is couraging right now; if you are attempting to change something negative in your life, you are couraging, too.
Dani’s illustration of my quote: “Courage is dreams with shoes on” is a reminder that every positive change first requires being brave enough to lace up your Courage Shoes and take the first step toward change.
After we discussed courage, Dani and I talked about Lowering Expectations.
Dani (and most of us!) want overnight change — and then expect ourselves to be able to change overnight.
Okay, loves: to put it as nicely as I can… it doesn’t work that way.
It took time to get into our mess; it takes time to get out. So, we must lower our expectations of how much we can accomplish and how quickly, until we come up with an action step that is easy.
That’s right, I said easy. We keep lowering expectations until we find something we are absolutely able to accomplish: the one or two small steps we know we can take in the right direction.
Like this: EXPECTATIONS. LOWER. Lower, Lower…even lower…easy… there.
The reason is simple: success builds on success. We need early success to keep ourselves going, so we can get to the point where our small successes grow exponentially.
In Dani’s case, we identified two action steps she could easily practice every day for the next 7-10 days:
STEP 1: PUT DOWN THE WHIP
Like many of us — especially those who identify as "Type-A" — Dani is good at criticizing herself mentally when it comes to overusing her phone. When dealing with the phone issue this is especially tricky because Dani knows what she should do, but does the opposite (using the phone compulsively) anyway. Then she gets even more frustrated with herself.
She gets sucked into the Cycle of Despair: Do harmful thing, “whip” yourself for doing harmful thing, feel even worse, do harmful thing again to feel better, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Anyone else been there? Me too. Which is how I know the only solution to the Cycle of Despair is self-love.
In case anyone out there is confused about what this means (I spent about a decade figuring it out) — self-love is treating yourself the same way you would treat a person you love. Would you say the things to a friend you say to yourself in your head? Didn’t think so. Would you punish/mentally torture a person you adore? Nope.
Consider how you would treat your best friend is he/she was struggling with an issue, and actively trying to make a positive life change. Now, turn that loving energy and kind action inward….and put down the whip for good.
STEP 2: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION
Piggybacking on all that self-love is the idea of giving yourself permission to be exactly where you are, exactly as you are, without judgement. Since you’ve put down the whip, you can focus on being present with your behavior: observing it without the goal of massive overnight change.
Before you can make positive progress, you have to notice the negative. Since you can’t change anything until you figure out your patterns and triggers; give yourself permission to simply notice your actions and feelings as they arise.
By “notice,” I mean, whenever you find yourself engaging in or wanting to engage in a harmful behavior, take a step back and be present with it.
Pause, breathe, pay attention: What is the situation? What thoughts are you having? What is your emotional state? How does your body feel?
You can practice paying attention with or without taking notes, but writing is a great way to stay in the present moment
Dani finds it helpful to keep a notebook handy — a real live one with a pen, not on her phone! — to record her thoughts and feelings as they come up.
During our next coaching call, we’ll use her notes to create a strategy of next steps to move her closer to her goal of pain-free, helpful phone use.
To make the concept of giving yourself permission more tangible, Dani and I have created an actual permission slip that you can use to tackle any self-sabotaging behaviors you might be struggling with.
I'm so thankful that Reba is willing to work with me on this tricky phone overuse issue. I've only been focusing on it for a short while and already I feel like I've made so much positive progress! To connect with Reba Riley about coaching, speaking engagements, or television, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find Reba online on Instagram @RebaRileyAuthor and Twitter @RebaRiley and Facebook @RebaRileyAuthor.