Relationships in this day and age are hard. Really hard.
With the introduction of social media into our daily lives, we have become so used to communicating and living life behind a screen with our 2D friends rather than the 3D ones right next to us. And while connecting with people around the world isn't such a bad thing, we've become too obsessed with numbers of followers, the look of our content, and just our overall image. Constantly analyzing every picture and comment, our minds have - over time - altered themselves to be overthinking, comparing machines.
And I know you guys know this already. Our teachers and parents have consistently thrown articles and statements in our faces about how obstructive the media can be on us when we allow it. So I'm not going to go off because y'all already know.
But I think it's important to bring up because of the effect it has on our relationships.
Because our minds have shifted to become so analytical, our perception is now screwed up. With many of our relationships growing over social media, you could be talking to someone that you're interested in and things seem to be going great as every night y'all are talking and getting to know each other. To you, it may seem like there is something there when they are continually showering you with compliments and encouragement.
Because they are making this effort with you, you analyze every message and begin to day dream and build up a story in your head of the relationship based off of a few harmless conversations that occurred without considering the other person's perspective.
To put this into simpler terms, we all have some level of cognitive distortions.
In my opinion, this chart is very helpful for trying to separate reality from perception. Looking at the relationships and friendships in our lives, I would say it's common for these distortions to be present in them. Because of how social media seems to broadcast only select information to us - 1/8 of a person's emotions through a text, a five second video of a party you weren't invited to - it's easy to take the little knowledge we've gained from looking at a screen and blow the situation out of proportion in our heads.
So how do we do a reality check? How do we avoid overanalyzing, avoid complicated relationships, and avoid giving ourselves unnecessary anxiety?
We have to change our perspective to start seeing things with a broader mindset.
I remember when I was having issues with this, it took me being diligent with my thoughts for me to witness drops in stress.
For me, changing my perspective looked like me taking a situation that made me anxious, where I found myself overthinking something, and writing down what I felt, versus what could actually be happening. In my notes, I'd clearly draw a line between the two, making sure that I was speaking truth and God's truth about my identity in the 'reality section' (because it's easy to forget his promises and his love for you!).
By spelling out each emotion I felt and then the truth about the circumstance, it helped me see the lies that Satan was screaming in one ear and the truths that God was whispering in the other.
To the guy or girl that can relate to any part of this, I want you to know that I get it. Distorting situations isn't something we do knowingly, so don't beat yourself up about it. But now that you know about it, I challenge you to explore those cognitive distortions. How can you look at those situations with different eyes?
And to the guy or girl that skims over this and doesn't feel like they have screwed up perceptions, I challenge you to dig deeper into the way you look at your relationships online and offline. Is there any area where your reaction tends to be questioning your worth or abilities?
Because relationships are hard to navigate. Every living person is under some amount of stress due to the interactions we partake in. It's a given, living in this tech age. But I firmly believe that everyone has the strength and intelligence to take a look at themselves honestly and see where they can change. It's how God wired us - to change and evolve into women and men that look more like Christ. And wanting to have genuine, quality friendships and relationships is also something God wired us to desire. So go out today with your notes open, and your heart open to a change of perspective.