Lately, I have been earnestly thinking about my relationship with my phone. How frequently I am reaching out for it with or without awareness. Based on a few months of gentle observations, I have noticed a few reasons why it happens.
- I am having a hard time staying focused on the task at hand. Let's say I am writing a story for BK, which takes a considerable amount of mental energy. I forget to take brain breaks and stay on the task for a bit too long... to the point that I can no longer stay focused on the writing and habitually pick up my phone to check on my text or our IG feed.
- It's sometimes uncomfortable to sit (or stand) alone, whether it's a short 5 minutes in line at a bank or a stretch of time in the evening after kids go to sleep. This was happening a lot before, but it has been getting easier to manage. I often get joy knowing that I am the only one in line who might not be on the screen. I keep my head up and observe and watch what's around me, and it feels incredible.
- This one is probably the hardest trigger to work with. It happens when I encounter uncomfortable emotions I am not ready to internalize. It could be that I am frustrated about something kids might have done, or I'm upset because of some things that are going on in the world (which happened a lot in the past 12 months). I might walk away from being around other people to have some space, but instead of processing my feelings, it feels easier to pick up the phone to escape the moment. This one truly takes a lot of mental effort to be mindful of.
- Plain sight habit!! But not a good kind of habit. I reach for my phone for a specific and purposeful reason, like taking a photo. Then, I linger around, checking my emails, our Instagram account, and BK-related apps. Before I know it, 20 minutes is passed.
I started to observe and question my personal behavior because I was constantly experiencing "not" having enough time to work on projects that were important for my personal growth, such as practicing piano and working on a longer-term writing project. I really only needed 20 minutes or so of every day to move a needle of those projects, but I didn't have enough time.
Though I intellectually knew that social media could be addictive based on the research, it was still shocking to witness my own unconscious urge to check-in. For me, our girls have been the biggest inspiration and motivation to begin the shift.
They inspire me because they can transition effortlessly from one activity to another, whether reading a book, drawing or tending their gardens and chickens. Frido and I are definitely being mindful of limiting how much screen exposure they have each day. Our kids know that digital devices are "tools" that they can use to navigate the world they live in as long as they use them as "tools." In so many ways, I know I could be in a state of mind too. I see it happen every day with our girls right in front of my eyes.
Our girls are also my motivation because I don't want my presence around them to be the person who is always on the phone, especially when it's my time to "be" with them. I want them to remember me as being present instead of the image of me consumed on the screen or constantly checking my phone as if it's the only important element in my life.
Today, I am constantly brainstorming about how I can use our social media to bring positivity to the world. I started to share one minute of nature video on Instagram. No "wait for it" kind of content where there are tons of surprises at the end. Instead, it's the kind of video that shares the gentleness of the nature around us. I enjoy filming these one-minute clips because as I hold my camera steady, I am present and imagine the invisible force of stillness.
This is truly a "work in progress." I appreciate the technologies and platforms that allow me to engage with my family and friends who are near and far and both inside and outside of the BK. Baum-kuchen has existed for the last 11 years because we have found ways to lean into what technologies have been allowing us to do. I also want to honor my longing to stay connected. It's very human to want to be with others. At the same time, I hope to continue cultivating the space around my immediate self by setting a healthy boundary so when I do show up to the world physically and virtually, I am grounded and at my best version of self.
Where to find Wakako: IG: @wakako_bk
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