We live in a rushed, modern society full of interaction. We facebook, tweet, email and text, just to name a few. But the reality of the situation, more people feel isolated and alone than ever. Our sense of community is changing. It is less personal. Most of us are so busy that we do not make time for intimate relationships anymore.
I have to admit that I am guilty of this myself. I have preferred to text a friend because I didn’t want to commit to an in-depth phone conversation. I have chosen to sleep in because I am exhausted from my schedule rather than have breakfast with a family member on a day off. I have also been drawn into the virtual world of my friends’ facebook accounts. Some friends post every thought, dinner engagement, vacation and/or funny interaction that have experienced. Additionally, they post pictures, almost as proof, of their wonderful life.
Social media has become a very convenient method of keeping track of the wonderful experiences, interactions and daily thoughts that we would normally forget about. For privacy reasons, I have chosen to limit the exposure of my personal life on social media sites. As a result, I do not have the running record of how “fabulous” my life is. Most of the times, I cannot remember what I did last week.
I have gone as far to announce to my husband how boring our life is and want to engage in discussions on how to spice it up and become more adventurous. To my luck, he is a very patient man and reminds me of the vacations, movies, camping, concerts and family functions we attend. Then I am relieved by the fact that my life is not boring! I am also surprised by the extraordinary expectations I have transferred to my life. I do not watch a lot of TV but have managed, nonetheless, to judge the quality of my lifestyle by reality TV standards on many occasions.
When I realize this is happening, I have to consciously re-center myself, focus on the present and choose to be grateful for my family, job and fun. I also become aware that I have managed to balance my work and personal time rather well, after many years of practice. And I still fall into these superficial traps of comparison.
Our modern society is exciting and adventurous in that it offers us many options and constant availability to change. Attached to this wonderful opportunity, is a realistic expectation on what life “should” look like. Many of us have been programmed through media and advertising that we should be “perfect” and have a “perfect” environment as portrayed in that clip or show.
If driven by these external expectations, it can often cause anxiety and frustration. The road to perfectionism is never ending because it is unachievable. We are left with our feelings and often unrealistic goals or the consequences of being driven to attain these goals which are often a high level of stress and related ailments.
By no means is this a statement against driven individuals with high standards. It is a call, however, to take time and deeply examine what is important in your life. Ask yourself what are your values? How much are you willing to work? Are you willing to sacrifice anything? These questions start to examine the core of who you really are and what is important in your life.
This brings us full circle to the issues that our new communication techniques do not always fulfill the interpersonal needs we quest for. Additionally, we are not always sure of what to reach out for. This is when it is a good time to engage in counselling so as to process what are our values, what kind of relationships we want and what are we willing to do to achieve this. The counsellor also provides a non-judgemental environment where this can be sorted through. If you have felt unfilled and alienated from others, it is a good time to try a different insightful method.
By: Maritza Rodriguez-Arseneau, CCC
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA