Somatic Experiencing and Social Media
March 3rd, 2021
I noticed my first unintentional, somatic experience with social media a few years ago after leaving an emotionally abusive relationship. Any time I would go on Instagram or Snapchat I would feel a pit in my stomach, my body temperature rise, and my face flush. I was waiting for the worst. To see the image I was dreading seeing; the life my ex-partner was living without me. It felt strange to notice my body react as much as it did.
I physically felt my emotional pain. And for the first time, I was noticing it.
I tend to “white knuckle” the hell out of hypothetical situations and moments I have no control over (thanking my past trauma for that one). In this instance, it was wanting to see, know, understand, and obsess over every moment my ex-partner was capturing on social media. This was a dangerous path I was taking and I knew it. I felt it. It took so many moments of my body moving into survival mode for me to understand that the exhaustion I felt after “checking-in” on my ex-partner was my body begging me to stop.
Eventually, I did stop. Not by choice, but by the exhaustive state of my body and mind. Because somatic experiences mirror what we already know to be true about ourselves. It speaks to physical spaces within us. Communicating that an emotion, trauma, or memory is moving through us and we need to go inward and listen.
Sadly, social media can sometimes trigger an unintentional somatic experience in each one of us. Trigger warnings or not, an algorithm is choosing what we see. Not our bodies. Not our nervous systems. And definitely not our minds. So how do we learn to self-regulate and improve the relationship we have with social media? Where does somatic experience come in?
Boundaries and Knowing Your Resources
Boundaries, therapy, and self-reflection have without a doubt saved me from my own self-destructive habits that I developed through social media all those years ago. I took a breather from it all. Stepped back and moved through my healing without all of the noise. I even began my own journey with Somatic Therapy so that I could be better at noticing when my body is telling me something. It wasn’t an overnight fix. If anything, the digital world we live in is like fighting an addiction. We crave connection, but tend to find ourselves in spaces that feed our self-destruction through comparison and perfectionism.
It doesn’t need to be this way. I promise.
Go inward. Check-in when you view content on social media. How do you feel within your body? What sensations do you notice?
Your body is wise beyond compare. Trust it to guide you through all of the noise this world can bring. Especially when you find yourself engaging with social media.