Be Mindful of the Rabbit Hole
Before you know it, down you go. But you can arrest your fall.
Last night I made the mistake of scrolling through Facebook.
It began innocently enough. Read all about what my friends are doing. Oh, look, so-and-so got a promotion, cool. Hey, when did that relationship start?
But then I hit the first post about a stupid, selfish thing my state government did. That was followed by a post about something awful another state has done. Then more garbage from Trump and his cronies. Oh, and then there was a post about yet another guy getting a ludicrously lenient sentence for rape. This was followed by a story about a lesbian couple getting a beating by angry white guys. And then…and then…and then…
Before I knew it, I had gone down the rabbit hole. I started to feel bleak. That feeling of hopelessness and overwhelm for a world spinning madly out of control started to settle on my chest like a ten-ton gorilla. I started to question what good, if any, I could do. Then, just to make it that much more fun, I began to look at how good I have it, and whether it is utterly selfish of me to seek to improve my life in the face of so many people with far less opportunity to do so.
Did reading that start to get YOU upset and feeling uncomfortable? This is an all-too-familiar occurrence these days, helped along by a fear-based society with a 24-hour news cycle that knows full-well bad news and negativity sells and attracts more attention. The rabbit hole this can draw you down is virtually bottomless, and you feel like you are being crushed by the tremendous pressure like a tin can sinking into the deepest depths of a bottomless sea.
Step your descent
Oftentimes you don’t realize you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole until you’re already falling. It’s like you get pulled in by the invisible hand of negativity, and suddenly you’re freefalling. When did that happen? How do you overcome it?
The rabbit hole of Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or some other social media outlet, is insidious and way, way out of your control. These social media platforms are just overflowing with negativity and bad news and such. You absorb them like a sponge, and seldom realize you have done so because scrolling through is an almost unconscious act.
This is where mindfulness is important. Mindfulness is the conscious act on your part of becoming aware of what you are thinking, and what and how you are feeling. When you take back control and realize that your Facebook scrolling has begun to make you feel angry, distressed, hopeless, and generally negative, that pulls your head from the subconscious to conscious.
What’s the difference? Think of it this way — your subconscious mind is a car in neutral. Not going anywhere, but the engine is running. If you are on an incline or decline you’ll roll if you don’t apply the brakes. The negativity you encounter is that incline or decline, and the inundation of negativity has you take your foot off the brake without realizing it.
Consciousness is actively stepping on the brakes as you become aware of how you are thinking and feeling. Then, once you’ve got your bearings, the action from your thoughts and feelings is putting the car in gear and driving off.
Stopping your descent down the rabbit hole doesn’t require a parachute. You can simply stop, mid-air. You may not even need to rise back up, but can instantly transport yourself to level ground.
Actions for mindfulness
You are that powerful, and it is both that easy..and not that easy.
Here are a few ways to apply mindfulness to stop your fall down the rabbit hole.
· GET OFFLINE. Seriously, step away from the smartphone/tablet/computer or what-have-you. Close the app, get offline.
· MOVE. Chances are, your fall down the rabbit hole involved being stationary or sedentary. Get up, start moving, get the blood pumping. You may find you’re actually breathing shallowly or your heart is not beating normally, so this can really help you out and level you off.
· DO SOMETHING ELSE. Intentional action is one of the main ways to move in any given direction, literally and figuratively. So go read a book, talk to a friend, meditate, but do something intentional to get out of the funk you dropped into.
· REMEMBER. This is where I often stumble. When this happens to me, I sometimes forget, and then, late in the evening, a bit sleepy, I scroll through Facebook and before I know it…gah!! Remember that this happens to you so that you can better avoid it in the future.
Becoming aware of where your subconscious has taken you is one thing, but then changing it and getting away from it is going to require action. These are but a few of the many things you can do.
Don’t add to the madness
Finally, I would like to make a suggestion to you. Being aware of your own thoughts and feelings is one aspect of mindfulness. Yes, you only have influence and control over your own headspace. However, you also know how the actions, inactions, and activities on the part of other people, both near and far, impacts YOU.
Keeping this in mind, and recognizing the rabbit hole of social media, consider this before you post. Before you share that meme about the latest injustices of the world, ask yourself — am I offering a solution or feeding the problem?
Many of the rabbit holes were dug out with the idea of making people aware and indignant about ongoing insanity out there. Unfortunately, nobody considered that since like attracts like, feeding the problem just increases it.
Instead, we need to seek out and share solutions to the problems.
Please consider if you are offering something positive or negative to the world with what you post. This can make all the difference in whether or not we create more rabbit holes to fall down, or ladders and staircases to lift people up.
When you create ladders and staircases, before you know it, up you go. When you are seeking out more positivity, and feeling calm, it’s a lot easier to help others feel the same, and avoid the rabbit holes.