My clients often come in, sit down and put their cell phone on the couch right next to them. It didn’t used to be this way; just a few years ago it was unusual to bring a phone into the counseling office. Nowadays, phones are constant companions – or constant task masters. Being separated from them makes us anxious, or just seems impossible.
While I often encourage clients to give themselves a break from technology when they come in to see me, it is often more difficult to do so at home. Technology ends up extending the workday into the evening – particularly if you’re working for an employer with offices across more than one time zone. But even people who don’t face employment pressures to be instantly available face the urge to stay electronically connected. Why? Louis C.K. offers his thoughts here:
A recent article in the New York Times offers additional thoughts and is worth a read.
I used to think that we had just gotten ahead of ourselves technologically and hadn’t figured out the emotional, relational and social implications of ever-more-intrusive technology. Lately I’ve been thinking it is less a matter of changing the way we use technology than one of how technology is changing us.
Is Louis right? Do we use technology to avoid not only loneliness, but feeling at all? Technology provides new and better ways for us to distract ourselves and fill spaces and interludes in our life. Does this really enrich us? Are we happier?
When we hear the little chime that indicates a Facebook update or a text message or email arrival, we experience a physiological response. Human beings are social creatures, and we’re hard-wired to respond when another person reaches out to us. Our attention shifts for a moment. We are pulled away from where we physically exist. Just sensing the vibration of the phone in a pocket or on a tabletop affects us.
Disconnecting can feel like disloyalty. It feels irresponsible not to respond immediately. But when we prioritize the disembodied person on the other end of the electronic connection, our face-to-face interactions suffer. That’s especially true for couples. Work/life balance has become trickier in the face of always-on life. We want to be noticed, heard and appreciated by our partners. But even the most desirable lover may find it hard to compete with the siren song of our devices. Multitasking may seem efficient, but it often means that nothing gets our full attention and we enjoy everything less than we would otherwise.
Boundaries help us maintain health; don’t let technology take over your life.
- Keep your gadgets away from places you eat. You don’t need to work or communicate while you’re eating; this goes double if you’re eating with a friend or partner.
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom to avoid distractions when you should be sleeping.
- Consider putting the stuff away (or even turning it off!) after a certain point in the evening so you can have peace and quiet.
I invite you to join me at Easton Mountain August 30 through September 2 for Bring It On Home, the 2013 Labor Day retreat for gay men. I’ll be facilitating the weekend along with John Salvato, Frank Carson and Jack Hyman.
Home. It’s a place where we can feel safe, relax and celebrate life. It’s where we find our truest selves and where we can nourish our spirits. These Labor Day retreats are an opportunity to connect with others, make friends and find inspiration. In large and small group activities, we draw from our personal strengths to create and play in a supportive environment. Do as much or as little as you like.
Your Own Dolce Vita is a different way of experiencing Italy. We’re about slowing down, enjoying life and exploring with a group of like-minded gay men. The pace is designed to help men recharge their batteries – but just as important, to inspire them to bring the good life home with them after their time away.
Produced in cooperation with Il Chiostro (www.ilchiostro.com), this week will balance seeing Tuscany, light self-exploration and time to relax around the 18th century villa’s pool overlooking a picturesque valley. We’ll have a private chef; sharing an evening of good food, good wine and good conversation is a key part of our time together.
The handsomely restored villa – located about 17 km outside of Cortona – is the perfect spot to relax and get away from it all. The rural setting is tranquil and beautiful. Comfortable guest rooms have private baths.
During part of the day we will take time for some light meditation, getting to know one another and sharing what makes for a great life. We’ll visit Montalcino, Assisi and other beautiful places, returning home for a glass of wine overlooking the valley and sharing dinner together.
Men who have travelled to Italy before will find this an opportunity to see a side of Italy most tourists rush right past. Those who haven’t traveled abroad before will find that the format provides plenty of support to make Italy comfortable – and to make friends along the way.
I know that many of us are stressed by the demands of work and daily life. This is my 11th year offering retreats for gay men in Italy. The program helps men to experience Italy as travelers rather than tourists. Instead of simply checking sites and attractions off a must-see list, we’ll go more deeply into the good life in the picture-perfect Tuscan countryside.
Making career choices is tough. We get caught in what psychotherapists call “approach-avoidance conflict.” We move toward making a change out of hope things will get better (approach); but we fear making a mistake, or jumping from the frying pan into the proverbial fire (avoidance). Small wonder many of us remain stuck until someone makes the decision for us.
Sarah Peck has come up with a simple way of thinking through the decision that I think is brilliant. When you’ve already done the work of investigating some options and collecting information, this way of looking at things helps you check your gut and clarify your values.
For more information, check out Peck’s blog.Read More