Fortunately, codependency is a learned behavior and can be changed with therapy. Let's now turn our attention to learn about how Riley, a young man struggling with belongingness and codependent characteristics, used social media to overcome these emotional obstacles. Riley, an eighteen-year-old senior in high school, came to see me to work on feeling more socially at ease and comfortable in groups, especially peer groups. Riley had a habit of being overly worried about meeting other people's emotional needs and, in so doing, would abandon his own needs. This contributed to problems with Riley's ability to set aside the time to do what was important to him, like pursuing his hobbies and school. And the word no was not a part of his vocabulary. This dynamic made his relationships emotionally exhausting and incredibly difficult. Riley was also getting ready to start college in a few months. These days, many of us know better. As wonderful as it is to be able to keep up with high school friends on Facearticle or see what a celebrity had for lunch on Instagram, there's a darker side to social media. Finding inspiration in the workout routine an actor or model posts on Twitter can quickly turn into an unhealthy fixation on aesthetics--can you get a six-pack like his or a butt like hers? Staying in touch with friends on Facearticle can become an obsession with other people's lives and make it too easy to avoid authentic, face-to-face community. And our eagerness to share about our own lives can lead us to lose touch with the present moment and focus instead on how it's going to look on Instagram. Narcissists Anonymous It's no surprise that a study conducted by psychologists at Brunel University London found that narcissists were more likely to post about their fitness and diets to social media sites than those with less self-aggrandizing motivations. The report also found that narcissism was closely tied to low self-esteem. One of the Brunel researchers suggested that there's a simple fix to this issue: the narcissist's Facearticle friends who are annoyed by the constant stream of look-at-me pictures should refuse to like or comment on them, and so stop enabling the poster's egotism. Then there are the famous for being famous folks whose body-focused shots have gained millions of followers. Alternately tap one hand and then the other against your shoulder. This exercise stimulates the brain cross-laterally, which means it makes each half of the brain talk to the other.

Getting them in conversation this way activates our prefrontal cortex and allows it to soothe the amygdala, your so-called fear center. It's simple. Just pay attention to your breathing. This exercise may be triggering for people with body image concerns, so do be thoughtful about whether it's right for you. Sit or lie comfortably and let your breathing slow. Bring your awareness to your body and notice what you're feeling. Do you feel tightness in your shoulders, back, neck, or anywhere else? Do you feel pain or discomfort? He was worried about making new friends, getting along with his roommate, and keeping up with his studies and classes. He didn't want this pattern of interacting to follow him throughout college. He was also particularly concerned that he would not genuinely feel he was a part of his school's larger community. In fact, Riley never felt like he genuinely belonged anywhere. This feeling was longstanding and went back to Riley's early childhood. Most of Riley's early childhood memories involved watching his father get drunk night after night. Riley described his mother as a classic codependent. My mother denied my father had a drinking problem my whole life! Even when I would confront her about it, she would give an excuse for his drinking like, He drinks a little at night because he works so hard' orHe never got a DUI' and `Doesn't he deserve some time to unwind after a hard day at work? He rarely gets so drunk that he can't walk. If they were just posting photos of themselves, it would be easy enough to ignore them and move on. But it's the fact that many post fitness and nutrition tips to get a body like mine--or, in the lamentable case of the belfie posters, a butt like mine--that really bugs me.

Their self-obsession and encouragement of others to imitate them reinforces our culture's fixation on aesthetics and how it is valued above real health. Plus, the tips they provide are often way off the mark and frequently feature products they're paid to promote. While there's nothing wrong with looking good, this should be a by-product of a balanced and holistic lifestyle, not the be-all and end-all. But as long as we keep following these people (incidentally, even the term following sounds like stalking, doesn't it? This does not mean that just because some people have large social media followings and happen to look great, they are automatically devoid of useful information. In fact, several are very talented, intelligent, and highly successful coaches. The point we're making is that aesthetics should not be the criteria for how most people eat or train, as it provides the wrong target. It's absolutely fine for looks to be a strong motivation, but we have to realize the real goal is to improve our overall health and wellness. Do you have a feeling of concentrated energy or pulsing around a certain area? Start at your head and systematically focus on each area of your body on your way down--scalp, ears, nose, mouth, neck, shoulders, chest, and so on--and really notice what sensations you have in each area. Eating Meditation This exercise helps us jump into the experience of eating and appreciate it. All we're going to do is eat a raisin, paying attention as you do it. For many people, eating is fraught with anxiety. This exercise could be triggering to some people, particularly if you have an eating disorder or a history of chronic dieting. It's very normal for people who've had trauma around food (dieting, other forms of disordered eating, food insecurity, etc) to feel panicked when asked to slow down and eat mindfully, and that's a direct result of the trauma. It doesn't mean they're bad at eating mindfully, it just means that their bodies are in survival mode and trying to make sure they're not deprived again. Use your discretion as to whether the exercise is right for you. Codependency, as we learned earlier, describes a dynamic in which one person enables and supports another person's dysfunctional behavior or poor emotional health, like alcohol or substance abuse, immaturity, irresponsibility, and underachievement. In Riley's case, his mother's codependent behavior led her to deny her husband had a severe drinking problem and to neglect many of her son's emotional and physical needs--not to mention abandon her own needs!

My parents rarely paid attention to me, Riley continued. They were so wrapped up in each other in sick and unhealthy ways. I can't remember my mom or dad ever taking an interest in my life. Neither one ever asked me how my classes were going, about my friends, or what interests I had. Riley also came to realize that he had internalized his mother's codependent behaviors. This was most apparent in his relationships with his friends. Not only was Riley preoccupied with the well-being of his friends, he also actively sought their reassurance. And many of his friends suffered from depression or another mental-health disorder. That way, if we fail to reach our aesthetic goal, we still end up happy because we have better energy, will live longer, and will perform better in whatever sport or activity we choose. One way to shift our focus from ourselves is to simply get out in what poet Robert Service calls the Great Alone and allow ourselves to be awestruck by nature. Laird Hamilton explains, When you get yourself into nature--in all its majesty, volume, and power--you are put into a position of insignificance very quickly. As you're now at the bottom of the pecking order, you're able to properly assess what you're doing. There's a certain level of humility that nature demands of you, especially when you're fully participating in it. That puts you in the perfect mind-set to be truly conscious. I'm not saying you should never post a picture of your new and improved physique. You should get praise if you've worked your ass off (sometimes literally) and achieved something you never thought possible. What I'm advocating is to have a better, conscious relationship between exercise and your body. So if looking at pictures of people with amazing physiques on the internet motivates you to train, make sure you want to emulate those people for the right reasons. Start by just feeling the raisin in your hand. Roll it around, maybe toss it from hand to hand.

How does it feel? Now hold the raisin up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good sniff. What does it smell like to you? Now look at the raisin. Notice its color, shape, texture. Look at its folds, the darker hollows. Have you gotten distracted during this process? Maybe your mind started wandering off to thinking about what you're going to eat for lunch. As for social media, Riley's deep need for reassurance also showed up in his online habits. Riley would regularly agonize over what to post and how to word them. After posting them, he would become consumed with how his friends might respond to his posts and the number of comments he would receive. Riley would spend the next twenty-four hours continually checking his social media accounts and reviewing what he had posted. Codependency, Dysfunctional Families, and Social Media Another core characteristic of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. In addition to its contributing to issues with social-media use, codependency also inhibits authentic feelings of belonging. This is due to the codependent's enduring struggle with identity, self-concept, and a deep longing to be liked and feel accepted, causing the codependent to take on the personalities of those they are with. It's important to acknowledge that having dependency needs is healthy and normal. In mature and healthy relationships, people are able to comfortably rely on one another for support, understanding, and help, while at the same time retaining a sense of independence and autonomy. But if such photos depress or discourage you, then stop viewing them; Observers, Not Participants