“Some days my daughter barely looks up from her phone. I’m worried she’s addicted.”
These words commonly echo in my therapy office, as people struggle with technological forces that are hijacking their nervous systems and destroying the landscape of their relationships.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use proven practices to put these same forces to work for us to boost mental vitality, strengthen relationships, and reawaken spiritual health. This is what you will find in my new book, The Gift of Cultural Hurricanes.
Here is a preview, with some practical tips that can make things better for you and your children, starting now:
Confront the distractions and anxiety directly caused by technology: Yes, the cultural hurricane has fueled anxiety disorders to record high levels. In fact, the average anxiety level for teens today is the same as that of psychiatric inpatients in the 1950s! We can make two changes right now to mitigate the distracting, anxiety-producing impact of technology:
- Choose a proven strategy to reduce social media use, where our nervous system cannot help
but to compare our everyday lives with the photoshopped highlight reels of those around us.
For example, we can delete social media from our phones and only use our iPads or computers.
- Use parental controls or free software to block distracting (or depraved) websites from all family devices.
Re-awaken our awareness of spirituality and the sacred. Yes, the cultural hurricane has eroded authentic spiritual health. Belief in God is in steep decline, and, for the first time in our country’s history, less than half of Americans are part of a church, synagogue, or mosque. We can make two changes right now that can help us and our families to spiritually re-awaken.
- Use free apps, such as Insight Timer, to rediscover Holy Presence, focus our prayer time, or simply bathe our background attention in spiritually uplifting music.
- Re-purpose technology to re-awaken a sense of awe, mystery, and gratitude. For example, use applied brain science to skillfully create a daily gratitude journal to re-train our nervous system to appreciate the miracles that surround us every day. This sense of awe and mystery is typically the spark that re-awakens spiritual aliveness, both for us and for our children.
Transform our relationships. Yes, the cultural hurricane kills compassion and fuels the political
polarization that rips apart families and destroys life-long friendships. One reason is that texting is replacing face-to-face human communication. This impedes learning empathy skills and fuels the current epic loneliness pandemic. However, technology can also help us to relearn empathy and recover emotional intelligence. Here are two small ways to return to love:
- By replacing texting with video apps we can immediately relearn and grow our awareness of nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and tone of voice.
- We can re-establish technology-free family meals and create rituals that deepen empathy between family members and expand gratitude for family life.
Yes, we are living in a cultural hurricane that is hurting us and our relationships in unprecedented ways. However, we can use these same forces to transform our lives, re-awaken authentic spirituality, and transform our closest relationships in love.
If this strikes a chord with you, consider checking out my new book, the Gift of Cultural Hurricanes. In it you will discover a 3-part, proven plan to guide you and your children to break our addiction to technology, re-awaken to the sacred, and recover our family relationships.