I had been dating someone for a month or so that I really liked a lot. From the very beginning of our relationship, he showed his character and consistency. He communicated regularly. He didn’t leave me hanging.
This was a welcomed change from some of my prior relationships. And as time went on, I greatly appreciated his many positive traits.
There was one thing I struggled with in our budding relationship. While I appreciated his willingness and initiative in communicating with me, I found it challenging to stay on track with my own life while being responsive to his frequent text messages.
I was trying to remain focused on my business, hobbies and my personal goals. And with all I set out to accomplish every day, the communication was disrupting my flow and taking away much needed energy and attention that I needed for myself. I started feeling like the phone became a sort of “electronic leash”.
We are dependent on our phones. Mostly, they add value to our daily lives. But if we are not vigilant in learning to control our usage, our phones can control us.
We are at risk of becoming addicted to our phones with the immediate access to information and instant communications they provide. We may even feel bad about ourselves when we don’t receive an immediate response.
We may analyze the messages we receive. Share them with our close friends for additional scrutiny and translation. Carefully consider – and even agonize over – the response to send.
We may let the content, tone, and timing of a text (or lack of one) affect our mood and set the tone for our day.
The bottom line: We expend valuable time and emotional energy on writing, interpreting, responding to, and waiting on texts. And likely, we are spending a disproportionate amount of time and energy on what, in the big picture of our lives, ends up mattering little.
Take a minute to answer these questions:
- What could I accomplish towards my personal goals if I checked my phone less frequently?
- What Joy List item could I fit into my schedule if I muted my texts for 60 minutes daily, or like I do, mute them permanently so that I only look at my phone when I want to.
- What would my life be like if I prioritized activities that bring me happiness and fulfillment by setting boundaries on instant communications in my relationships?
(Note: You are practicing self-love when you ask yourself and follow through with these questions!)
How Setting Boundaries on Communications is an Important Form of Self-Love
In learning to love ourselves MORE, we become practiced in the art of putting our feelings, our needs, and our well-being first.
We focus on what we need instead what others need from us or what we think is expected of us.
By setting boundaries on the frequency and nature of the communications in our relationships, we love ourselves MORE because:
– We invest our precious time and energy into ourselves instead of spending (and perhaps wasting) it on a low quality connection via text (phone calls or meeting in person is a much higher-quality connection time with others).
– We give ourselves quietude, room for deep thought, and the ability to concentrate on meaningful work by removing the distraction of continuous messaging and letting go of the compulsion to frequently check our phones.
– We seek more rewarding and engaged face-to-face or telephone call connections instead of settling for the quick, frequent, and possibly shallow interactions that we often have via text.
To be clear, I’m not here to cancel texting. The scientific literature shows the positive benefits of texting in long-distance relationships.
But getting caught up in excessive texting can be detrimental to our mental health, to the depth of our relationships, and to the progress we make towards our personal and professional goals.
Now back to that relationship I mentioned at the start.
While I was already feeling love for him, I love me MORE. I needed to (lovingly) set a boundary on our texting.
I could not permit myself to fall back into old patterns in which I sacrificed my needs in a relationship. I knew I had to talk with him openly and candidly about my challenge to manage our continuous chats.
I shared how being in constant communication was impacting my ability to concentrate on my work and my goals.
I explained how I felt about him — and how I still needed to find a balance that enabled me to stay focused on the other things of importance to me.
I suggested we set aside time to talk at the end of the day, either by phone or in person, when we could connect without other distractions.
I let him know what I needed.
And he supported, and appreciated, the boundary I set.
P.S.: The benefits of “being out of touch” were more profound than I had anticipated!
- I was able to focus on my work and my goals (the reason for the boundary!)
- Also, I was full of positive energy from having the time to focus on myself (practicing self-love!)
- Also, we both had something to look forward to at the end of the day by catching up on a phone call or in person (an all-around win!)
- Also, I appreciated and missed him more (and gave him the space to appreciate and miss me!)
If you are allowing communications with others to keep you from doing what is most important, please remember to love yourself MORE. Put the phone on mute, and put the focus on what you need.
I’ve written extensively about self-love. An entire book even! In “I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love”, I share many lessons in building a self-love practice, including several behaviors I had to change because they were hampering my ability to love myself MORE.