By Alecia Rice
Q: I feel like a prisoner of my phone. I feel hijacked and obligated by messages that I’m not interested in replying to immediately and feel anxious pressure to respond. How do I free myself from jail? —No Cell Bars
A: Dear No Cell Bars,
Technology has entrenched itself in our lives in ways that can cause us to feel trapped. Communications run 24/7 which can bring a lot of stress, especially for those who are hyper-conscientious about social roles.
I highly recommend various forms of digital detox for peace of mind, combined with boundaries set to insure personal balance. First, we need to separate our feelings about electronic connection from the external expectations pounding on our mental doors. Then we can set boundaries around how we choose to respond.
Once you’re clear on your electronic “style,” you can begin consistently communicating to others what they can expect. Explain that electronics amp up your anxiety, and you’re practicing self-care by limiting your engagement with them. Initially, some may not be happy about not having instant access, but continuously reinforcing your boundary (that you won’t be tied to your phone) will help cement it in people’s minds eventually. Holding true for personal balance is key. There’s also a conscious balance in considering the urgency of certain messages as well as the person who sent them.
Here are some things you can do to
detox and reverse the sense of obligation that “connection” often brings:
- Remove rarely-used apps.
- Lessen your number of devices.
- Disengage notifications on apps so that you aren’t triggered the minute that someone messages you.
- Set “Do Not Disturb” settings on devices.
- Set automatic replies that indicate that you’re not immediately available.
- Be clear of priorities in communications; not all share the same level of importance.
Post messages on social media that you won’t be communicating or are disabling your account for a while to lessen expectations that you’ll be responding.
It’s important that we relieve the social pressures that pile up with the introduction of new platforms and apps. It’s imperative to be the driver of our own digital vehicles and not take a back seat by allowing them to drive our lives.
Q: My fiancée wants a large wedding which will cost tens of thousands of dollars. My interest is solely in marrying my soulmate and building a life together. I don’t want to disappoint her, but I also feel that’s a waste of money. I’m not really sure how to handle this. — Prudent Groom
A: Dear Prudent Groom,
In 2018, the average wedding cost $44,000, thereby exponentially raising stress levels for expected perfection which turns some women into bridezillas. There’s so much on the line for that one special day. That’s a lot of money, so your concerns are warranted.
Fairy tales combined with the exploitative wedding industry have imprinted females to think that they have to have the “wedding of their dreams.” Studies show that those who spend less on weddings and engagement rings, on average, get divorced less. Many subconsciously think that more extravagance exhibits how blissfully in love the couple is, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Generally, this is a highly emotional topic so approach it as neutrally as possible. When you’re in a bonded, easy place, ask her why a big wedding is so important to her. Big emotional decisions like this are often fraught with subconscious regressive tendencies which stand symbolically to fill comparisons and previous wounds. Does she want to be Cinderella for a day? Did her sister have a big wedding? Is there social pressure from friends or family?
Gather statistics to bring sobriety to the wedding intoxication fantasies. Talk over the amount of social and financial stress that an expensive wedding brings. Discuss alternative options for cutting costs and making other decisions, like buying a car, going on a honeymoon that lasts longer than one day, or putting a down payment on a home.
This may be your first big foray into negotiating larger decisions as a couple. Men often get reluctantly dragged into wedding details that they don’t care about. Be clear as to your personal boundaries in creating this experience and speak your sober truths.
Navigating this emotional maze will illustrate how compatible with compromise you’ll be longer-term when decisions arise about children, planning your financial future, and communicating about important hot button topics. Remind her that this day is fundamentally about speaking those words that bond you spiritually and legally as a couple. Everything over and above that is merely fluff.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.