Even though my brain may take me there by default, the adult me has learned strategies so I'm less likely to go there, and when I do, I'm less likely to stay for as long. What's key to soothing these triggers is the experience of feeling loved. I'm taking risks by entering relationships and letting people know when I'm feeling vulnerable and hurt and unloved. I'm letting them sit with me with the painful feelings. How Social-Media Literacy Helped Olivia As I stated at the beginning of this article, key to being social-media literate is having critical-thinking skills. Gaining the skill set to evaluate media by examining what is pertinent and what content may be excluded, and accurately interpreting the overall message and purpose of a text, picture, or post makes us less vulnerable to being seduced into falling for misrepresentations and fabrications of reality--like when Instagram models post pictures of themselves that have been photoshopped, portraying unrealistic and unachievable standards of beauty, or news stories are run that aren't based on facts but, rather, serve only to instill fear and anxiety. As for Olivia, her preoccupation with her diet, weight, and body shape was also being reinforced by her social-media consumption and habits. She would use social media for what she referred to as inspiration for staying in shape and eating really healthy. Although her underlying drive and preoccupation for thinness is more complex and not simply caused by her social-media habits, raising Olivia's social-media literacy by examining why, when, and how she uses social media and learning how to decode visual messages and recognize images that have been photoshopped helped her gain a more realistic perspective of social media and use it in healthier and more adaptive and skillful ways. After time, intention, and effort, Olivia was able to better regulate her goals for her own wellness and better see how social media could help or hinder her reaching those goals. Spending all my free time on social media, comparing myself to my friends, the social-media models I followed, and viewing fitness and diet profiles just reinforced the idea that felt I needed to look, act, and behave a certain way! I realize more and more how my social-media habits really did influence the way I felt about myself as a young woman. Being only nineteen, I'm still impressionable, and I'm learning I'm vulnerable to social messages that aren't healthy or even based in reality or that are only meant to sell an image--usually an unattainable one! In such instances the individual feels I didn't know what I was doing, I really wasn't responsible for what I was doing. The conscious self feels no degree of government over the actions which took place. The same statement might be made in regard to snoring or restless behavior during sleep. The self is not in control, and the behavior is not regarded as a part of self. Another example of this sort of behavior occurs when many of the organically experienced needs are refused admittance to consciousness because inconsistent with the concept of self. The pressure of the organic need may become so great that the organism initiates its own seeking behavior and hence brings about the satisfaction of the need, without ever relating the seeking behavior to the concept of self.

Thus, a boy whose upbringing created a self-concept of purity and freedom from base sexual impulses was arrested for lifting the skirts of two little girls and examining them. He insisted that he could not have performed this behavior, and when presented with witnesses, was positive that I was not myself. The developing sexuality of an adolescent boy, and the accompanying curiosity, constituted a strong organic need for which there seemed no channel of satisfaction which was consistent with the concept of self. Eventually the organism behaved in such a way as to gain satisfaction, but this behavior was not felt to be, nor was it, a part of the self. At times, I supplement my personal relationships with a therapist who provides an additional ear for my vulnerability. These experiences of love and acceptance help create new neural pathways in my brain and chip away at the strength of the old ones. Each new experience of love and acceptance modifies my synapses. BRINGING IT HOME If I were asked to predict someone's potential for happiness, I wouldn't ask about their race, gender, financial stability, or health, though these play a role. I'd want to know about their social network: about the strength of the bonds they have with their friends and family and about the degree to which they feel like they belong, both within their personal network and the larger culture. Connection is vital to health, happiness, and well-being, and a fear of connection keeps us walled off and estranged from one another. When we recognize the systemic--and biological! We're wired to both need and fear connection, but so are other people. We all share this, and we can bond over our shared need for connection. Diet, fitness, and being healthy are important to me. But I can achieve this in a way that's realistic and positive. By keeping a record of the sites she visited and the exact amount of time she spent logged on, Olivia was able to get an accurate picture of her digital footprint and the nature of the messages she was exposing herself to. While working on developing a healthier body image, Olivia agreed to take a break from social media. During this time Olivia and I focused on exploring her interests, passions, likes, and dislikes--the parts of her she felt she didn't know and that weren't tied to fitness, diet, and exercise. Over time, Olivia connected to her creative side, pursuing her interest in art by taking a drawing class.

She also joined the gardening club at college! When Olivia was ready to return to spending time in digital spaces, she had an array of interests and passions to explore and learn about. In a Nutshell Is your social-media use hurting you by causing you to feel more anxious, depressed, envious, and dissatisfied with your appearance and putting your recovery at risk? It was behavior which was dissociated from the concept of self, and over which the boy exercised no conscious control. The organized character of the behavior grows out of the fact that the organism on a physiological basis can initiate and carry on complex behavior to meet its needs. In a great many cases of psychological maladjustment, one of the causes for concern on the part of the individual is that certain types of behavior go on without his control or the possibility of his control. I don't know why I do it. I don't want to do it, but yet I do, is a common enough type of statement. Also, the notion, I'm just not myself when I do those things, I didn't know what I was doing, I have no control over those reactions. In each case the reference is to behavior which is organically determined on the basis of experiences denied accurate symbolization, and hence is carried through without having been brought into any consistent relationship with the concept of self. XIV) Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies to awareness significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self-structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension. The basis for this proposition has become evident in the preceding statements. We don't create connection. The connection is already there. Instead, we restore the connection that was interrupted by a culture of othering. Connection is inherently collective. We have to do it together. The more we say so, to each other, and see the same experience in others, the more we break out of self-blame.

We're all experiencing woundedness--and that's where the light gets in. That's exactly how we come together. The woundedness you feel is not a flaw in you, it's your humanity. This human vulnerability--the need for belonging, for feeling valued and connected to others--and the distress we feel without it connects us to one another. Take heart: you're not alone. There's no doubt that our exposure to digital content of any kind--whether it be Facearticle, YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram--has the power to impact our mood and self-esteem and influences our perceptions of the world and those in it. In short, digital spaces influence our perspective, actions, attitudes, and behaviors. This happens whether we are conscious of it or not. Furthermore, the greater our emotional investment in social media, the more powerful it will be for us. For example, studies show that greater overall social-media use and high emotional investment in social media as a means for connection and validation were associated with insomnia and higher levels of anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem. The direction of this relationship is still being debated, and the exact impact social media has on those struggling with a mental-health issue remains unclear. And anxious and depressed individuals may use social media as a means for regulating emotions in much the same way a depressed or anxious individual might use alcohol, watching Netflix, or playing video games. While the direction of the association between social-media use and eating disorders, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and low self-esteem remains unclear, social-media literacy can help mitigate some of the risks associated with social media's impact on these disorders by helping users learn to use social media in skillful and effective ways. Following are some recommendations to help you become more literate in your social-media use in order to improve your screen health. If we think of the structure of the self as being a symbolic elaboration of a portion of the private experiential world of the organism, we may realize that when much of this private world is denied symbolization, certain basic tensions result. We find, then, that there is a very real discrepancy between the experiencing organism as it exists, and the concept of self which exerts such a governing influence upon behavior. This self is now very inadequately representative of the experience of the organism. Conscious control becomes more difficult as the organism strives to satisfy needs which are not consciously admitted, and to react to experiences which are denied by the conscious self. Tension then exists, and if the individual becomes to any degree aware of this tension or discrepancy, he feels anxious, feels that he is not united or integrated, that he is unsure of his direction. Such statements may not be the surface account of the maladjustment, such surface account having more often to do with the environmental difficulties being faced, but the feeling of inner lack of integration is usually communicated as the individual feels free to reveal more of the field of perception which is available to his consciousness.

Thus, such statements as I don't know what I'm afraid of, I don't know what I want, I can't decide on anything, I don't have any real goal are very frequent in counseling cases and indicate the lack of any integrated purposeful direction in which the individual is moving. To illustrate briefly the nature of maladjustment, take the familiar picture of a mother whom the diagnostician would term rejecting. She has as part of her concept of self a whole constellation which may be summed up by saying, I am a good and loving mother. This conceptualization of herself is, as indicated in Proposition X, based in part upon accurate symbolization of her experience and in part upon distorted symbolization in which the values held by others are introjected as if they were her own experiences. Connection with others dissipates the shame of feeling that somehow you as an individual are defective. The search for individual solutions is a trap that keeps us mired in injustice. Bonding together and supporting one another as we sit with our vulnerability and collectively resist systemic injustice creates a culture of belonging in the present as it also works to catalyze social, cultural, and institutional change. This is what is needed from each of us, whether it is in our role as friends, health professionals, or members of a global community. It's in connection and shared struggle that beauty and tenderness lie. We have to learn it together and together create spaces for vulnerability, trust, and intimacy. This mission, and the skill-building that comes with it, is different from an interior, individualistic focus on self-love. It looks outward. Coping mechanisms like self-care and self-love are indeed important, but it's when we practice community care by organizing, supporting, and trusting each other, that we deepen the healing and paradigm-shifting. WHY SELF-HELP WON'T SAVE US Recommendations Examine your use of cognitive distortion when logged on. Do you jump to conclusions or generalize about someone's existence based their newsfeeds, pictures, and posts? Do you compare yourself to others online and across all domains such as attractiveness, success, or wealth? Although social media does give some facts and information about another's life, it cannot show the nuances and details that truly represent the complexities of all our existence. Prioritize learning the ins and outs of social-media literacy.