Does it feel like you might need more time for you and your loved ones? Would you like to know how to live differently and better? If yes, Mental Zero Waste is here for you.
REDUCE what you don’t need
How would you describe yourself? People often say they are strong, independent, self-sufficient and assertive. At the same time, certainly, as social beings, we need interaction and we are mutually dependent. That is how we get into conflict between the cultures of individualism and collectivism.
The perfect prototype of individualism is the social networks that are meant to connect us, but which instead become just the space where we create an idealistic image of ourselves. We are distant not only from others but also from ourselves. Mobiles have infiltrated our life in such a way that even they have a space in our bedrooms. Is your mobile display the last thing you see before going to sleep?
Psychologist Larry D. Rosen says that the main source of anxiety and stress nowadays are actually digital messages. 41% of people reply immediately to email and 71% to notifications. Even if we don’t respond promptly, we constantly check our cell phones. This causes anxiety and affects our attention. Ultimately we become Pavlov’s dogs.
“Well,” you say, “I shut down notifications, put the mobile into my bag, turn off social networks. Will the alerts turn off in my head as well?” No. We are “taught” to constantly need connection, even an inability to check messages pumps cortisol to our heads. Sending, receiving, but also not checking messages provokes an anxious reaction. At the end, we are unsatisfied not knowing the reason why. Every so often, we suffer from sleeping disorders.
If this sounds familiar to you, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is our goal?
FOMO (fear of missing out) has a great impact on social networks, so it’s about the feeling that we are missing out on something important. It’s the feeling that we have to be everywhere and see everything or something important will escape us. It’s an acute and illegitimate fear that others live more and better than you, that they can easily handle life and are simply happier. Indeed, the reality is often totally different.
However, as Larry Rosen says, part of anxiety comes from social rules, bonds and expectations. Someone messages you and your brain has begun to produce stress hormone because you know you might respond. It is also important to note that it isn’t very difficult, even unintentionally, to offend someone on social media. GOMO (guilt of missing out) is about the feeling that you’re ignoring someone. But the truth is, you are not obliged to answer immediately, and or even read messages right away. You are free people and you can eventually ask yourselves: What does this situation or person expect from me? Did I promise to respond immediately?
And then there ́s FOMOMO (fear of the mystery of missing out), or fear growing from the feeling that we don’t know what we are missing. The Guardian writes that it isn’t about fear of what we see but actually what we don’t see if we don’t check social networks. Alternatively, or conversely, when your friends don’t post anything on social networks – you think they are having such a good time that they just don´t have time to share anything.
So, where do we want to go? Toward JOMO (joy of missing out), namely to joy. To satisfy ourselves with the feeling of not missing anything. One of the mental zero waste goals is to learn how to reasonably regulate impulses from interaction with other people and social media. To learn how to make decisions freely and to know how to make decisions on time and correctly. Simply to live freely and contently at once.
If you feel that something like this could be useful to you, congrats! You just took your first step and it’s time to move forward.
REFUSE: learn how to say no
We have plenty of possibilities, but we don’t know how to choose. Besides, there are still requests from others. Are you among those who can’t say no as well? Meaning, you often go for a coffee with someone, but in your head there is another movie running, about everything else you might be doing. As a result, the meeting makes no sense to anyone, but you have the feeling that if you don’t meet up, you’ll lose your friend. If you don’t fulfil the expectations of your partner, he/she will leave you. You know that.
Your self-worth is hidden behind this emotion. It was created by observing the reactions of your relatives toward you and your behaviour when you were four or five years old. If your self-worth depends on how your environment reacts to you, something probably didn’t go well at that time. So it doesn´t happen intentionally or consciously.
You are an adult and don’t want to put other people’s needs above yours. What to do when we are flooded by a feeling of guilt and separation anxiety.
Listen to your own needs and make decisions according to them. It might sound egocentric but it’s certainly better than drinking coffee with someone you actually don’t want to be with, at that moment. It’s better than walking into something you don’t have time for and you don’t like. Of course, if the other person is important to you, to say no over and over again is not a solution, but you can agree on a solution convenient for both.
INTEGRATE: Answer these questions to yourself
There are three basic principles that determine our thoughts and behaviour: pleasure, ,reality and perfection. Our goal is to apply them in a balanced way – to achieve what we call egosymbiosis (harmonized state of “Self”). Only then will you be able to make decisions freely and well.
The first step is to answer the question: what do you need, what do you wish for, what are your desires? The second step is to ask how well you know yourself. What are you able to achieve and what are the limits of your abilities? Which emotions are yours and which are those that someone else projects on you?
Of course, this attitude requires openness and self-reflection. It requires resistance and acceptance of the fact that we are not superheroes able to do everything that others want us to do. However, the reward is the liberating feeling that comes when we do not force ourselves to do something we actually don’t want to do.
First step towards egosymbiosis is to answer these three questions:
- What do I need and desire?
- Who am I? What do I know? Where are my limits/boundaries?
- What do others expect from me? What would be the ideal state?
After that you can formulate motivating but realistically achievable goals that will fulfil and please you.
RENOVATE: take care of your mental energy
When we run twenty kilometres, we have less physical energy than we had before. With mental energy this doesn´t apply: the more we use the more we have. But where can we find it? Psychologists talks about mythical “inner sources” and they are right. As a matter of fact, they are talking about all the activities that bring us joy.
For the renovation/regeneration of mental energy it is even more important to meditate and practice autogenic training – a relaxation method that brings relief on physical and psychological levels. Autogenic training improves neuronal communication and integration at every level of our brains. And patience is needed as well: the first results will come after six months approximately.
Moreover, you train your attention through meditation. Studies show that different types of meditation result in similar changes to those of autogenic training itself. Furthermore, autogenic training brings deeper changes and also stimulates those parts of the brain connected with emotion management and the sustainability of our health.
The regeneration of our mental strength is then especially important. It is not enough just to reduce disturbing impulses and learn how to say no. It is necessary to be purposeful in preserving the mental energy you have obtained.
Do you feel like some of the things mentioned in this article apply to you? Does it seem like you might need more time for you and your loved ones? Do you think you can live differently and better? If you have answered yes to at least one of these questions, mental zero waste is the right way for you.