Are you nurturing an unhealthy relationship with your cell phone?


Many of the things we invest our time and heart into, are in direct relation to the core values we hold in life. When we go out for dinner with our friends and family members and each individual keeps their eyes fixed upon the screen of their cell phone instead of the eyes of those they are in immediate relationship with, we are exercising our values. We may not be aware of it. If you were to ask each member around the table they would likely state their relationships with each other is most important, but the power of a little cell phone has the ability to turn some of those values upside down. Many of us are nurturing an unhealthy relationship with our cell phone.

No cell phone, text, or email shall be my master

How did we ever survive without the ability to text our parents and tell them the exact corner we are waiting at after practice to be picked up? Modern technology, with its numerous benefits to our daily lives, also has its downfalls.

I am waiting for the day when someone surgically implants Velcro to the palm of their hands to keep their cell phones attached to their bodies at all times. We live in a society of people who have deceived themselves to believe they cannot make it through the day, let alone the hour without being connected to someone in an instant.

Not only have some of us personally bought into this mentality, but we press it upon others. If we live glued to our cell phone, spend hours in front of our computer, or text numerous times throughout the day, we expect others to do the same. When we send an email we send it with an expectation that the receiving person will jump to attention and reply within a given amount of time. The problem is, we all have differing unspoken rules about the adequate, socially acceptable amount of time in which an email or text must be replied.

Giving someone my full attention and eye contact as they share their story, is an important element in building trust in a relationship. If I were to wander my eyes around the room and interrupt your story with conversations to others passing by, I would in essence be telling you, “What you are saying to me is not important. Something or someone more important to me just came in the room”. Personally, I choose not to share the things that matter to me with those who portray such lack of care. It is why I don’t jump when my cell phone pings with a text message or another email which wants to unknowingly compete with the relationship or task at hand. I will answer in due time. The value of building relationships: eye contact, listening, caring in the here and now takes precedence.

No, I am not screening your call, I do not have any screening device on my home phone. Unless I see an 877-number calling on my cell, I am not screening you. You are important to me also, but if I answered every call, email, text at the moment it was sent, (assuming I actually hear the call), I would not get a single productive thing done in my day! I would go nuts with that kind of imbalance. I will not allow any cell phone, text, email or social media to be my master.

Just say, “No”

Do you ever wonder why doctor’s offices, movie theatres and churches have to place signs and make public announcements to teach us when not to use our cell phones? Granted, it is easy to forget to turn off the ringer, but why do we have to be told in the first place? We have allowed the mighty cell phone to pull our chain wherever we go, thinking we will miss out on some conversation, some relationship, some event if we are not available 24/7. This is simply not true.

When we fail to set technological boundaries in our lives, then we give the false impression that we are working 24 hours a day, we are accessible at all times, and others hold control over our every waking hour. The lack of boundaries could overwhelm anyone! I hear this topic of frustration come up frequently across the generations.

Recently my son told me, “My friend is texting me more than 5 times a day. I don’t have time to return the texts all day. I don’t know what to do.” He was experiencing anxiety over the pressure to be available to his friend at any given moment. I suggested he practice what one of his friends does; turn off his phone for a few hours a day. Leave the phone in his bedroom while he visits with the family or goes bike riding. His friends will still be around at the end of the day.

I often wonder how I would have handled cell phones and social media when I was in school. My guess is, I would not have gotten many of those 20 page papers written, at least not well. I would have been too busy socializing, planning, pursuing, and cooing with my friends.

The distractions of on-demand communication is a “greater threat to IQ and concentration than is smoking marijuana”, according a recent study. The obligation to reply to every message slows down the brain and our ability to stay focused. This addictive behavior has been studied recently by psychologists. “The anticipation of something good keeps us checking something routinely”, states Dr. Daniel G. Amen, in his book “Magnificent Mind at any age” .

5 suggestions for balancing your relationship with technology

1. Keep hours. Decide to check and answer emails or social networks during specific times of the day. Perhaps once in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Maybe even less.
2. Don’t jump to answer your cell at every moment it beckons you. If you are in the middle of a task or conversation, discipline yourself to ignore it until you are free.
3. Provide an emergency plan for reaching you through text or cell if necessary. I send texts to my husband throughout the day without receiving his replies. I know he is busy at work. But, if I call him three times in a row, he will pick up or return my call quickly, knowing it is an emergency.
4. Don’t keep people waiting for your reply for an excessive amount of time. It is appropriate to text them and say, “I can’t talk at the moment, can I give you a call tomorrow morning?”
5. Let the people you are presently with know they are a priority to you. Keep your cell phones tucked away, and concentrate on making eye contact and building relationship with the person. An exception would be for those who are caretakers, parents, or expecting an emergency call. In that case, I always tell my friends, “I will only get this if it is my kid’s school calling”.

Sound off! Tell me what you think about our relationship to technology.

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Parenting adult children: the meaning of letting go

This is a Modified Version by guest author, Theresa Froehlich

All content is copyrighted. Copyrights belong to Theresa Froehlich

As kids become adult children, parents face transitions in their relationships. This stage is rich in developments and changes, some of which are exciting and many are confusing.  My husband and I have dealt with a rather traumatic launch of our two children during the last few years. Now in their early 20’s, they have been self-supporting for several years. While they continue to move forward with their lives, I must exercise the discipline of letting go. As they sail forth in the small and unimpressive boats they have built, they will follow my cues – my confidence in them and my willingness to let them make mistakes – in order to keeping sailing into the ocean of life without parental supervision and provision.

I have spent many days and months pondering what letting go means since I have had to make daily decisions about my relationship with my children: how to talk to them while respecting them as adults, how often to contact them without causing them to feel smothered, how to stay connected without stepping over their personal boundaries, and how to let them handle their own lives while allowing them to learn through their own mistakes. As a result of these reflections, I came to a much clear understanding of letting go.

  1. To let go is to admit I am powerless, and thus to accept God’s power in my children’s lives.
  2. To let go is to suspend judgment, and thus to recognize my child as the captain of his or her own ship.
  3. To let go is to resist my parental impulse to enable, but to allow my child to learn from their natural consequences of their mistakes.
  4. To let go is to stop trying to change my child, but, instead, to live my own life to the fullest.
  5. To let go is to stay connected, and yet recognize my child as a separate person.
  6. To let go is not to abandon my child, but to give my child the vote of confidence to take charge of his life.
  7. To let go is not to take care of my child, but to care about her.
  8. To let go is stop trying to protect my child from uncertainty, suffering, or heart-break, but to permit life to strengthen him through hardships.
  9. To let go is not to name and nag about all my child’s shortcomings or failures, but to attend to my own development.
  10. To let go is not to stand between my child and real life, and thus to allow my child to determine his own destiny.
  11. To let go is to stop dreaming dreams on behalf of my child, and thus to create space for my child to dream her own dreams.
  12. To let go is to stop worrying about tomorrow, but to live today to the fullest.
  13. To let go is to release all my regrets about the past, and to commit to living for the future.
  14. To let go is to stop making my child in my own image, but instead, allow my child to blossom into the person God has created him to be.
  15. To let go is to remember that life is not a formula, and thus to take one day at a time.
  16. To let go is to relinquish fear, and trust God to fulfill his purpose in my child’s life.

What thoughts do you have about letting go? What are the challenges or barriers to letting go? What might be helpful to develop your ability to let go?

You can find other blogposts from Theresa Froehlich at www.transitionslifecoaching.org. Please leave a comment and feel free to ask her a question by clicking on the button “Ask Me A Question” in the sidebar.

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