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And yet that's precisely what millions of people are letting their activity trackers and apps do. If you're going to monitor your body, it's a far better idea to collect multiple data points over an extended period of time, like a week or a month, and then share it with a trusted coach who can use her knowledge to help make sense of it and dig into how you perform when certain numbers are up or down. She can then make more informed recommendations for your overall lifestyle--from activity to nutrition to recovery--than a device is ever going to come up with. We can think of the issues with data as falling into two categories: problems with applicability (not all data is useful) and problems with accuracy (devices can be inaccurate). Confusing Information for Insight How much of the information we're collecting about ourselves is truly usable for improving performance? One manufacturer of a sensor-equipped tennis racket that sends data on topspin and backspin, serve speed, and more to a phone app in real time promises that you can know more about your game to better perform. Is this really the case, or will you simply have more information? A more evolved person by then, I thought I'd try to keep an open mind and ask what had happened when we first met. She reassured me that she legitimately had not been available at the time I had suggested. Meanwhile, she herself had misinterpreted something I said and felt too shy to speak up about it. She was scared of rejection. So she had left it to me to make a show of friendship and get us together, to prove I cared. Well, as you know, I'd talked myself out of that. When I failed to propose rescheduling that early meeting, she decided that I must not want to be friends with her. We both had wanted to connect, but our wounded brains led us both to self-protect and back away from the risk. This experience didn't just hurt in the moment--it reinforced our recurring inner narratives that we were unlovable. We're all running scripts about ourselves and others that can blind us to what's really going on. In short, continuing to use technology to numb feelings won't solve problems. We can't heal what we don't feel.

Cultivating self-awareness and the ability to name, regulate, and express our emotions--skills associated with emotional IQ and mentalizing--dramatically helps us address the challenges of life skillfully as opposed to destructively, like self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, shopping, pornography, or social media. Following are some recommendations to help you get in touch with your feelings and better understand how paying attention to your emotional IQ and taking the time to work on developing it more, if need be, is important to your overall life, both online and off. Recommendations Cultivate self-awareness by regularly reviewing your social-media profiles, wall, pictures, posts, tweets, and news feeds. Ask yourself, Do my posts reflect my principals? Are they respectful? Could they be misconstrued to be hurtful or unkind? Self-aware people are aware of how they can affect those around them. If a tennis player is going to work with a coach who knows which numbers are relevant to a certain facet of their game and indicate opportunities for improvement, then that's fine. But there's the danger of confusing measurements for outcomes. Say the app told you that your first serve in a match averaged eighty-nine miles per hour, which was down 10 percent from the previous round of a tournament. You could take this to mean that you needed to go out and fire a couple of hundred serves before facing your next opponent. Or maybe you'd assume that your serving arm was too weak, so you'd better get in a hard weights session to top up your strength. Both deductions could lead to actions that harm your play in the next match, and both are completely arbitrary. Also, say that in that match, you prevented your opponent from breaking your serve. While the speed was down, maybe the accuracy went up. And maybe you were serving into a headwind for two sets, which reduced your average speed. So that first-serve average, though below par, was more than enough to get the job done. Instead of seeing what's in front of us, we're streaming the archival footage in our head. We each get stuck in our particular pattern of thoughts--for most of us, it's beliefs that we're inadequate, that we're not enough, that we don't belong.

In other words, our self-protectiveness itself fails to protect us. Avoiding pain causes pain. I try to remember that when I'm tempted toward avoidance. So strong is my I'm unlikable narrative that I project it onto new relationships and turn it into a self-fulfilling prophesy. I created her rejection of me; Fear feeds this process. If I'm always scanning the world for evidence that I'm unlikable, that's what I'm going to see. Confirmation bias combined with a negativity bias sets us up for misery. Practicing good citizenship is an example of digital self-awareness. Start a feelings journal. Journaling is a good way to discover patterns and helps reinforce our understanding that our feelings are a part of life. For example, perhaps you'll discover you're more likely to log on to social media when you're feeling left out or rejected by a friend or family member. Learning how to express your feelings to those you feel hurt by dramatically reduces the risk of self-medicating behaviors and increases your ability to resolve conflict. All of which leads to living a more skillful life! Practice distress tolerance. Self-medicating behaviors result from an inability to calm ourselves down when we are feeling stressed. Learning how to manage stress and crisis in skillful ways that help without causing negative aftershocks is key. You can start to work on this skill by making a list of coping behaviors that you have used in the past that have helped. This is an example of trying to draw meaningful conclusions from data points without taking quality or outcome (did you win or lose? Another risk with relying on numbers to inform your training is that they almost always reduce performance to speed, power, and strength.

This overlooks the fact that your expression of all these physical qualities is limited by your skill level, which everyone, from novices to world champions, should always be working to improve. In addition, supposedly smart technology doesn't take into account strategy or tactics, or the mental and emotional components of performance, which are just as important as physical ones. Just because we're measuring more doesn't mean we have greater understanding. So we should either stop using fitness trackers, restrict them to the role of coaching aids, or use them to monitor our progress over time, rather than allowing them to dictate day-to-day strategy. Those who do rely on metrics to dictate their every move are making a simple error. If we outsource our consciousness to a machine, we come to think that data is understanding. Rather, data is knowledge that requires interpretation to be applicable. This is a fancy way of saying that yes, data can be helpful, but decades of experience on the part of the athlete and coach are needed to fully understand what it's saying and how to use it to solve problems. What I've learned is that I need to start by getting some perspective. I ask myself, Why does it hurt? For me, the pain often comes down to a lack of belief in my worthiness. What's behind the stories that stream in your head? They're not entirely false or made up (I did experience rejection as a young person, leading to my unlikability fears), but clinging to them may keep us stuck in reliving them. Our inner narratives are current interpretations of past experiences. Investigate those tough questions about what's really going on, and whether your stories are true or whether they're a way to disengage and self-protect. What happens if you let go of the scripts--can you see anything else? Your addictions and avoidant behaviors perform a function and are meaningful. What are the roots? Remember, there's a difference between knowing and doing. Edith Wharton, Vesalius in Zante.

Nielsen, Time Flies: U. Adults Now Spend Nearly Half a Day Interacting with Media, July 31, 2018, https://www. Lemmens, and Patti M. Valkenburg, The Social Media Disorder Scale, Computers in Human Behavior 61 (2016): 478-87, doi:10. Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen and Petrus A. Kommers, Modeling Habitual and Addictive Smartphone Behavior: The Role of Smartphone Usage Types, Emotional Intelligence, Social Stress, Self- Regulation, Age, and Gender, Computers in Human Behavior 45 (2015): 411-20, doi:10. Michael Akers and Grover Porter, What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Context is critical if data is to be applied correctly. So the next time you sit down to study the metrics from a workout, consider whether you truly comprehend what that day's data is telling you when compared to similar information from the previous week, month, or year. If you don't know and haven't the first clue how to use it productively to improve your performance, you either need to call in a coach or stop tracking this data point. The Scientist and the Practitioner For a long time there has been a gap between what science tells us and how coaches and performance specialists put these findings into practice. There's also the issue that only study authors and journal editors actually read up to half of all academic papers, which suggests that only fellow scientists can make sense of the geek speak. A big part of his mission and mine is closing the researcher-practitioner gap so we can figure out which measurables are meaningful and what we should do with them in designing evidence-based programs for our athletes. Such programming will use wearables and other technology appropriately as tools, rather than cutting out coaching expertise and deferring to an algorithm devised in a Silicon Valley hipster coffee shop. Getting to Grips with Genetic Testing What if you could not only look inside your own body to see how it functions but actually peek inside your DNA to discover your genetic performance potential? What are they protecting you from feeling? The next step is recognizing that the distress you feel is a fact of being human.