We’ve all been there: doing the exact opposite of what’s good for us, then harshly berating ourselves afterward. Often, we’re engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors learned in childhood. Many are passed down from one generation to the next—and they show up in our digital habits, as well. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that eight out of 10 Americans are overly attached to their gadgets. Of those surveyed, 86 percent said they’re constantly (or often) checking emails, texts and social media accounts, making them more stressed and anxious than those who don’t use technology and social media as frequently. Other examples of self-sabotaging digital behaviors include snooping through a partner’s phone, obsessing over virtual friends (or events you weren’t invited to) and digging for online information about an ex.
To stop the cycle, we need to become aware of underlying emotions like anxiety, grief and depression. These trigger such behaviors and makes us more vulnerable to self-sabotaging cycles. With time, practice and patience, self-sabotaging behaviors can become less and less a part of who you are. Here are some tips get you started.
1. Identify your triggers. If you happen to be struggling with your own career, seeing a friend’s posts about her new promotion might put you in a terrible emotional space. Step away from social media during difficult moments. See it as an act of self-protection and self-care.
2. Disrupt self-sabotaging digital behaviors with offline distractions. Watch TV, read a book, take a warm bath or try short bursts of intense physical exercise.
3. Do daily check-ins. Regularly put your thoughts and feelings on paper. Start a journal or keep a diary.
4. Commit to daily non-digital self-care. Make time for the real-life things you derive pleasure from—especially friends and family. Participating in activities you enjoy helps to break negative behavior patterns.
Related: Set Aside February (and Every Month) for Self-Care in the Main Line