January 18, 2012

Why am I so Impatient ? Tips for Dealing with the New Technologies that are Driving us Crazy.

Back in August we talked about the problems of over-using smart phones. Today we are going to expand our discussion a bit to talks about the troubles connected with being over-dependent* on not just smart phones but also all of high tech devices and online internet services like Google and Wikipedia, e.g., emotional problems and increased stress.  (For example, have you ever texted someone and gotten upset when they didn't text you right back?)  Although it's easy to depend too much on our favorite devices, we have some tips to help you to maintain a reasonable perspective and to keep you from becoming over stressed.

 The Problem with the Technology of things like Google and Smart Phones

I don't want to sound like an old crank who is against technology; I'm not. The problem, however, is that many folks don't understand the psychological consequences of the information superhighway revolution. It is a clinically documented fact that depending too much on electronic time savers can also create problems of unrealistic expectations and a reduced tolerance for frustration.

--   Unrealistic expectations.  When we can get something done quickly in one area, we come to expect that in all areas of our life. We begin to assume that everything can happen instantly which is, of course, not realistic. For example, although we now can find out who was president in 1834 in seconds by going to Google instead of taking the time to read a book, there are many things in life  that still take time. Although life is faster in many ways, not everything can happen quickly and even the most high tech devices sometimes fail and people are still people.  If we lose sight of these facts, we become more easily frustrated which is the second problem.  

-- Lowered Frustration Tolerance.  When things take longer than we anticipate, we become impatient we may lose our ability to calmly accept delays and become vulnerable to making unpleasant or impulsive responses. In psychological speak, high-tech gadgets are lowering our frustration tolerance and our ability to stay cool when we encounter problems that can't be solved quickly and have trouble accepting that some things are just slow.   

Tips For maintaining Your Patience

Fortunately, although the psychological impact of the technological revolution is unavoidable, there are some things you can do that can help you to cope and deal more reasonably with the inevitable glitches and frustrations that occur in life.

 1.  Assess your level of Technological Dependency Ask yourself, How dependent on technology am I? Am I over dependent*? (If your computer crashes or you can't get online do you freak out** ?)

2. Reality test your perspective. Ask yourself, Is there really a reason to be upset ?  

3.  Get feedback before responding. Blurting makes things worse. Do some self-talk, journal or talk with a friend to regain a reasonable perspective.    

4.  Get closer to nature and do something low-tech. Take walks in the park, garden or grow something; take care of a pet, write a letter, read a book.

5.  Anticipate possible problems and Have a Plan B.  Don't be shocked. Realize electronics sometimes fail. Be prepared. Have something else to do instead of just twiddling your thumbs. 

Oh, and one more thing... Have faith and be open to the unexpected - Sometimes important events come into our lives when they're unexpected and if we're emotionally tied up in knots we will miss opportunities.                                                                                                                              

*   By "over-dependent" means not being able to function without.

** Note the issue is not feeling upset, that is normal. The critical issue is does it affect your behavior, 

     i.e. do you do something that is impulsive or say something is unkind and that you'll regret later?

These remarks were prepared by the Reverend Michael Heath, LMHC for Bridge Street 1 18 2012

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