by Kanchan Agarwal | 10 MAR 2018
The expression of our thoughts and feelings has become relatively easy owing to the instant messaging services accessible to us at an arm’s distance, be it day or night at almost no monetary cost. However, it’s time to pause for a moment and ask ourselves “what is the real cost of our digital interactions?”.
Is the qualitative nature of our comfort and connect with our loved ones consistent throughout our online and offline interactions? We like to keep in touch with our friends, family and chosen life partners on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger but when we meet them eventually, are we really able to maintain that intimate connection with them? If we are not comfortable in either of the zones, then is something going wrong? What might be the challenges we are facing in the day-to-day interactions of our intimate relationships and what do we need to do to find a balance between the digital and real-life interactions within our relationships?
The problem of instant gratification
When it is easy to act on impulse and express every passing thought and feeling, it is natural to expect a response just as quickly. When our needs for instant gratification are not met, the mind tends to start drifting to the negative - the place of irrational fears, anxiety, stress and insecurities - all of which receive our validation due to our focus on them as we are hung up on receiving a desirable response. This is an unhealthy practice. Firstly, it is not going to serve our growth as individuals, hence it is a waste of our precious time. Secondly, we lose sight of realistic expectations. Lastly, we may develop unchecked bitterness out of disappointment owing to our ignored and unacknowledged yet vulnerable messages.
How to overcome it :
Gain awareness of this pattern within yourself. Observe why your response gets delayed in your digital interactions. This will help you to empathise with your partner at an instance of delayed response. Find interesting activities to engross yourself with - this will allow you to filter out the insignificant thoughts and feelings, and to get rid of the problem at its roots.
The problem of unresolved emotions and ego :
When technology in this technology-dominated age provides us with so many options to express ourselves freely, it also provides us with unbiased validation as our thoughts and feelings get manifested in a physical shape on the screen, which feels as good as publishing a book! This encourages our dramatic selves and we may see nothing wrong with humiliating our loved ones with harsh words. Thus, creating the spiral of hurtful and often unnecessary arguments, which can eventually close all doors of communication.
How to overcome it :
Of course, once the storm has passed, we may be able to review what we have done. Only if we are aware of our egoistic tendencies, we will be able to go past the anger and acknowledge the sadness which is deeply bothering us. We need to learn to take responsibility for our emotions. It is possible to do that independently by learning about emotional intelligence and maintaining a journal of our emotions where we can record what makes us anxious and upset; what are our wants and needs. With regular practice, we will gradually find ourselves dealing with heavy and disturbing emotions in a rational and matured manner - an important practice for real growth through a relationship.
The problem of deep communication and the sense of reality :
As our digital avatars, we are able to cover up our quirks without feeling the guilt of being inauthentic. That is the normal thing to do. When we start spending time together offline, we might find ourselves getting highly conscious and anxious about our quirks. Unable to allow ourselves to be our authentic and imperfect selves in the company of the person we admire so dearly can confuse us and create doubt in our minds. Self-doubt is stealing away from us our precious present. Similarly, many of us feel comfortable expressing our tender feelings within the safety and privacy of a WhatsApp Chat Window but when we come in physical contact with our loved ones, we might find ourselves pressurized and crippled by our own selves to recreate those special moments. Thus, giving ourselves a logical reason to doubt ourselves and the reality in front of us. Questions like “is love real? Is our love real or are we just writing fiction? Is my partner genuine and is he/she genuinely interested in me?” come to the mind.
How to overcome it :
The way to deal with it is to make yourself the central character of your life, traversing between two worlds - the digital and the physical. This requires for you to be unified within yourself - become one in your mind, body and soul. Practise yoga and breathe deeply to feel your emotions and process them with the aim of useful practical application. Understand yourself as a person thoroughly. Know that your thoughts are an inner manifestation of your behaviour. Hence, choose your thoughts carefully. How you talk to yourself makes all the difference in maintaining mental and emotional stability.
The problem of energies :
Since we are intimate with our smartphones, we are also unconscious about the exchange of energies. Gadgets consume our energy, especially when we are feeling low. Real-time interpersonal interactions require us to be exponentially energetic as compared to the energy our smartphones need from us. In many cases, we are left dissatisfied with our dates - they were probably not as exciting as the chat we had earlier. It is because we were not aware of the energy we required to invest in the person sitting next to us.
How to overcome it :
A great way to keep rejuvenating ourselves is by utilizing our energies in creative directions. Energy spent for creativity is basically energy recycling and restoring itself. When we are aware of the direction in which our relationships need to grow, the answers to crucial questions like “what creative engagements will help me be my happy, interesting and fully potentially realized self?” will reveal themselves. Commit to those activities and live mindfully.
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