Let me begin this article by sharing a story with you. I once ran a workshop about mental health and social media, for creatives and entrepreneurs. The room was full of strong and intelligent female entrepreneurs, all prepared to take on the world.
I started the workshop by asking this one question: How many of you, have experienced that social media has made you feel less worthy? That you are less beautiful, less successful or less interesting. Every single person in the room raised their finger.
I then asked them to keep their fingers raised and look around at the other participants. A gasp was heard. Nobody had expected what they saw. As one woman said, ‘I thought it was just me that felt that way!’ Another participant commented: “I had always thought that it was because I was weak, that I felt that way.’ What these entrepreneurs witnessed that afternoon, was a well-documented social media effect.
During this workshop these brave entrepreneurs began to open up and share how social media really made them feel, and the unpleasant experiences they have had on the different platforms. Stalking was not uncommon amongst these stories. Neither were anxiety, stress and a sense of never being good enough.
These negative experiences spread across a wide range of areas. Then I asked them to map out these experiences to gain clarity over how this effected both their private and entrepreneurial life. A deep kind of silence spread across the room as they, one after the other, saw how their healthy boundaries had been weakened and manipulated to a place of discomfort and disempowerment over time. This was the very turning point for the entrepreneurs, and a new conversation started, about taking control of their online boundaries.
As an example, I introduced them to Shimi Cohen’s little video. In his video, Cohen explains how social media has taken over too many of our crucial social activities which are essential for our mental health and general thriving. These were simple social activities such as, how to connect on a deeper level and become part of each other’s stories, in an active and nurturing way.
At the end of my workshop, the participants were guided through an exercise where they mapped out four essential needs. Four needs for their private life with friends and family, and four needs for their professional online life.
We all took time to share our needs with each other and talk about them. Experiencing being heard and validated made the participants feel so reassured. Their feelings were no longer just in their head. They had been transformed into a community supported plan of self-care. They could then unite on this journey together towards reclaiming their healthy boundaries.
When we can go out and participate in the online community with healthy boundaries, we will also make it a safer place for everybody else. We rarely think about it that way, do we?
Even though I work extensively with healthy boundaries, storytelling and mental health in my new workshop Mind, Body, Soul for Blogpreneurs part 1, 2 and 3 (in my Blog Potential forum), I want to share this easy and creative exercise, that will help you underway already now towards better boundaries.
This exercise works really well with drawing tools of all kinds. Simply draw, or imagine, two independent circles. One circle is your blogpreneur life. The other is your private life.
Do this part for both your blogpreneur and private life circle. Define at least 3 important needs you have, that make you feel energised and positive in each circle.
Now, create a realistic, detailed plan, that enables you to merge these needs in your daily routine. Both when working, and not working. One woman, for example, realised that she had to control how much time she spent on social media when not working. She gave herself 45 minutes per day.
There you go, dear blogger. Spend all the time you need to get the best out of this exercise and help create an online world with better boundaries. I
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