Addiction is deeply woven into my DNA. I'm extremely aware.
I've witnessed the devastating impact of addition - on family members and close friends.
Knowledge that's impacted my decision making.
Who knew a smart phone could trigger the dopamine reward center in the brain?
I had no idea.
I do now.
My phone was my number one numbing tool when Mia was fighting for her life. A coping skill that stayed with me for many months to follow.
In a way, my brain was protecting me from the DEPTH of pain I was experiencing in those moments turned months.
Even after we were home from the hospital. Even after Mia came off her meds.
When Trauma was driving, the social scroll became my escape.
I'd dissociate, never intentionally.
30 minute woulds pass. 30 more. And I'd have no idea how I ended up reading some article some where far off the nooks of the world wide web.
I wasn't on to intentionally connect.
I wasn't on to intentionally share.
I wasn't writing a post.
It was a go-to numbing strategy. To not feel the INTENSE emotion.
It was my way to run.
And then in the summer of 2016, while I was far off in the nooks of the world wide web, I stumbled upon a blog, The Hands Free Revolution that left me breathless.
Our family had rented a lake house in the Adirondacks to get away, unplug and recharge.
Hubs was sound asleep next to me. That's how it went down. When we'd crawl into bed, I'd grab my phone. My husband lying next to me. And, I'd scroll.
Littlest was two months old. It was the first time I had experienced postpartum depression; it was also the first time I nursed a baby in my arms with access to a smartphone.
The Rio Summer Games were on TV - and every night we'd let the girls stay up late to watch swimming. The summer Olympics always brings up a whole host of emotions for me - and this time was different.
This time, I watched without my perfectionist armor.
This time, I watched with my Olympic bins cracked wide open.
This time, I watched while reading through the logbooks of my 18 year old self.
Rachel’s words SHIFTED something deep in my soul.
There was something about the way she shared her own painful truths with such eloquence and grace that both opened my eyes AND freed me from shame.
As I read her story and held my newborn baby girl in my arms - my husband asleep next to me - and my big three upstairs, it was as if time stood still.
No longer able to shove down my emotions,
It was, in many ways, an awakening.
The moment I came face to face with a painful truth of my own.
No longer unaware that I was addicted to my phone.
I would never not-know again.
That moment marked the beginning of deep pivot in my relationship with my phone -- and in my business.
It changed how I showed up. It changed how I coped with strong emotion.
It changed how I viewed rest + play.
That moment forced me to rumble with my emotions in a way I had never done.
It forced me to find new ways of coping. Ways that were aligned with my soul.
That doesn't mean I'm healed + free from the pulls.
It does mean I've become much more intentional with my use.
I've shut off all notifications.
For the most part, I place my phone out of sight when my girls are home.
I work from my computer first.
This article from Mindful Mag (one of my favorites) is POWERFUL in helping us understand what's happening + how apps are designed to keep us scrolling.
We aren't wrong or bad for falling into this trap.
We are simply human.
And, as the article above points out,
Our smartphones - and the apps on them - leverage human psychology to keep us scrolling.
It all makes sense. The features. The beeps and buzzes. The red dots. All designed to keep you hooked.
And for those (read: most) of us who’ve struggled with the voice of never enough, the phone and social media offer us a place to seek validation in the form of external feedback, opening up even more dangerous doors.
Because, there’s nothing out there - there’s no number of likes or loves or double taps or shares that will ever fill us in that way.
Our worthiness is not hinged to conditions.
And, once we know better, we can do better.
It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, though for some, the pulls of addiction might be too strong.
Growing our awareness is a critical first step.
What does the space between look like for you?
How do you want to shift your relationship with your phone? ✨
Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, high-performance consultant and coach, transformational speaker and mother of four girls. She is the founder of Livingstone High Performance, LLC. and the Rise Free Academy.
Samantha helps female athletes, coaches and women who lead, to cultivate the habits, mindset and skill set needed to quiet the noise and unapologetically step into their light so they can achieve AND feel fulfilled along the way.
Samantha also helps organizations, teams, and groups identify ways to support, empower, educate and equip their coaches, parents and athletes with the tools, skills and shifts needed to cultivate high-performance (achievement AND fulfillment).
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. To learn more about her offerings, go over to www.samanthalivingstone.com