Sometimes we set an intention for our internet use. We will tell ourselves that we won’t go on reddit, we won’t play games, or watch porn, or randomly google things for no reason. We will tackle the hard things on our to do lists, read more, apply for jobs or anything besides just surf all day. We make a list of new habits and activities we want to pursue like meditation, yoga, and programming.
But despite our best intentions we often fail. We end up on youtube or reddit instead of studying or working.
When this happens we tend to feel immense feelings of anxiety, guilt, and self loathing. We feel like we are failures who don’t have an ounce of willpower. We criticize ourselves and speak to ourselves harshly.
We are mean to ourselves.
If this happened to a friend we would be much kinder. We would tell them,
“Hey, the internet is a really, really addictive place so it’s only natural that you relapsed. I’m sure it happens to a lot of people. At least you cared enough to try making a positive change in your life. That’s a step a lot of people never even find the motivation to take. Don’t let today’s failure discourage you from trying again…because you can’t go back to your old life, the path your own is so much better.”
Instead we speak to ourselves in harsh ways. We tell ourselves that we’ve wasted yet another day, that we’re failures, that we have no willpower, that we suck.
This is just a natural part of human behavior. For whatever reason our brain is wired to self criticize rather than be kind to ourselves.
The problem is that when we speak to ourselves like this mentally, we create further negative feelings. We don’t feel happy, we don’t feel joyful. We feel increased anxiety and stress.
And when your brain feels stress it wants something to make it feel better. It doesn’t care what-- as long as it provides a good burst of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. And what’s the easiest way to get those good feelings? Junk food, cigarrettes, social media, porn etc.
So by treating yourself cruelly for relapsing, for not progress etc. you’re actually ensuring that in the future you’re more likely to relapse. More likely to stay hooked on the internet and other bad habits.
To break the cycle you have to do the opposite. Start changing your daily internal monologue. Be nice to yourself. Congratulate yourself for just even wanting to change for the better in the first place. Tell yourself that no matter what happens you’re going to be kind to yourself. Because at the end of the day you’re the only person you’ve got. If you can’t treat yourself with kindness then who will?
This isn’t something that happens overnight. You’ve been talking to yourself mentally in certain ways for years. Now you’ll have to change all that. It’ll be a bit like learning Japanese or French. You’ll have to practice talking to yourself in a new way everyday. But it’ll be a fun and rewarding process and it will change your life for the better.
I got introduced to this subject by a friend who I respect deeply. He recommend I check out a book called Self Compassion by Kristin Neff. I reccomend you guys read it. Here are a few videos by her too: