Negative statements about me or the work I'm doing have an impact on my life. I would like to be a soaring free spirit with the super power of being instantly able to let words burn right through without leaving an impression.
The truth is I am uncomfortable with criticism, which makes it difficult to move in the direction I would like to go. It steals my thunder, my passion, my giddy, hope-filled perception that I'm on the right path. Here's a fresh observation from someone close to me:
"You spend a lot of time online."
For someone who just enjoyed over seventy happy birthday wishes and was feeling uplifted by that, the observation from my friend brought me low. A question about the true definition of friendship followed. For non bloggers, online friendships might appear to be "false" friendships, because one's true identity is not revealed. For the non blogger, it appears impossible that the real person behind the keyboard is able to represent themselves authentically, even if that is their intention.
But back to that little bugger of an observation....
"You do spend a lot of time online."
So I had to ask myself,
Have I become addicted to the virtual online world?
It was a slap, a wake up, and I'm still coming to terms with it. I want to just let it burn through so I can proceed on the inspiring path I walk. I love blogging and I enjoy facebook. Even with those habits, I am adept at caring for myself, my son and his education, my husband, our home, our meals, our pets, my business and our community service. I even reach out regularly to my neighbors. There is so much support in my online community that I have been able to make significant and positive changes, the latest being my quest for fitness. I might even venture to say that without the positive energy I receive from my online friends, I might not be brave enough to keep reaching out and discovering the world or my community. I am becoming a fearless learner, and this is exciting!
So I tried a little experiment. On Sunday I took a Sabbath day. I did not sit in front of the screen for a single second that day. When Elliot asked me to look something up, I explained that today I was taking a break from the screen, just like when he needs to take time away from video games when they are being overly used. I wanted to learn if I would have withdrawls like the ones I experienced when I was quitting smoking.
Several times during the day, I was very tempted to check for messages. I did feel a little "cut off." But I also noticed how quickly those urges passed, and how much I enjoyed staying on task with my daily work. But when Richard came home, he observed that I was a little "edgy."
Perhaps I was so deeply connected to my inner self from the quiet that arose in my mind during the Sabbath, that his voice and his reports about the day at work felt disruptive.
I learned that spending a large block of time only with myself and my thoughts was like a day at the spa.
It cleansed and renewed and refreshed my soul.
I don't know whether or not I am addicted to my online community, but if I am, it feels healthy to me. The people whom I've come to know as "real" friends are people who give positive encouragement and share inspirational, uplifting ways to live. I love them. They are not afraid to share their vulnerability or humanity.
What do you experience when someone's observation feels hurtful? Are you able to let it burn through you without leaving a lasting impression?
I'm trying to get over the tendency to play defense and let it pass.
Today I'm also keeping a log to measure my time spent online. As Gretchin Rubin from The Happiness Project writes "if you want more or less of something, measure it."