Hi I’m Gary and I’m an Addict

She was about to go to bed when she checked her fitness tracker. Only 200 more steps and you’ll earn a badge, it told her. That was easy. A couple of laps around the inside of the house, and then bed.

But, then the “monster on her wrist” told her that only a few flights of stairs and she would earn another badge and another level. OK, that’s easy. Just a couple of times down and up the stairs to the lower level of the house.

The next thing she knew it was 3 am and she had climbed the equivalent of the Empire State Building.

That was when the realization hit–she was addicted. All those levels and badges and encouragement kept her on the app. She was getting steps in to the neglect of her husband and her sleep.

It took a period of time to become more realistic about the “monster on my wrist” and make it serve her fitness needs not its needs to keep her on the app.

Facebook uses the same psychology. And YouTube. And many other apps. They encourage addiction. You become their servants.

A lesser known pioneer in psychology, Roberto Assagioli, who founded a school called Psychosynthesis, talked about developing the ability to step away from ourselves. We view ourselves as if from slightly above and away. We see how we are acting and relating to others. I read his works in the 70s, and they had a powerful impact.

When we grab for the phone to check our our steps for the hour or day, or social media streams, or just one more YouTube video, we need to develop the discipline to see ourselves grabbing that phone and realize the time and emotional hole we are entering. And choose to use it rather than it using us.

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, recognized our need to step back and observe ourselves:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 

*I’ve never been to a 12-Step meeting, but I’ve heard that so many times it is imprinted into my brain. And I am probably addicted to something–just need to recognize what. Maybe coffee…

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