Disconnect your phone and connect with the world around you.
We live in a society where we think the world should have access to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Why do we all think we are First Responders who are ALWAYS on call?
Why do we think that we must answer every call because someone somewhere will live or die based on how quickly we respond to our phone?
I’ll admit it; I am a phone offender. Every time I call my daughters, I think they should answer immediately. If they don’t answer immediately, it clearly means they have been kidnapped and need rescuing. In reality, my child is probably doing her nails.
Just ask them.
I can’t count how many times a conversation has gone like this:
“Hello,” my child.
“Why didn’t you answer my call?” me.
“Mom, I was in the bathroom, and hey, wait a minute, why did you call five times?”
“You always answer your phone! I thought something was wrong!”
“Mom, nothing was wrong. I was just using the BATHROOM!”
“Oh, thank God!”
“Mom, WHAT do you want?”
“I don’t remember, but I am so relieved you are OK.”
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we assume that an unanswered call or text means something other than that person is busy and can’t answer the phone?
Our cell phones are controlling us, and we need to take back control.
Here are three easy steps to break out of the cell we’ve created by being overly dependent on our phones.
Step 1: Don’t use your cell phone in your car. Ever.
Now you might be thinking, what if I have an emergency?
If you have an emergency, step out of your car, and get to a safe place to call the police.
What if a crazy beast is following me?
How often does that happen? I know it happens in movies, but that’s not real.
Now, cars have emergency buttons in case you get into trouble. If I found myself in a life-threatening situation, I’d push that button before I’d pick up the phone and dial a friend.
If you genuinely need the help of First Responders, you won’t be making any calls. I was in a car wreck a few years back, and people got out of their cars to call for help. There was no way I could make a call.
Are you afraid you will miss that urgent call or text?
You need to ask yourself, is it that important?
The world will go on revolving if you don’t answer that text until you have stopped and gotten out of your car.
I remember the phone booth days when I would have to park the car, get out of the car, walk to the phone booth, wait my turn, put in a dime and make my call. I always kept many dimes in the car ashtray. The collection of dimes became a collection of quarters when calls went up in price.
The world didn’t end because I wasn’t able to connect my cell phone to my car and answer the phone while driving.
If someone calls or texts you while you are driving, don’t answer.
Let them wait a few minutes or longer to get a hold of you.
Answering your phone right away doesn’t make you any more important than you already are.
The truth is people will think you are more important if they have to wait for your response.
Step 2: If you are doing something, like working out, or taking a class, or eating a meal — basically living life — don’t answer your phone.
You can answer the person when you have the time to answer.
Must you constantly be at the mercy of other people’s schedules?
It’s OK to set boundaries.
It’s OK to chew your food and swallow even when someone is calling or texting you.
It’s OK not to answer every call.
But, what if it is my child, and she is in danger? (OK, I admit it. I have to work on this one!)
You need to ask yourself this: Are you in the Special Forces? Are you a Ranger, Seal, or Green Baret?
If your child is in danger, shouldn’t she call 911?
Wouldn’t it be better if the Police SWAT team handled the situation, or are you confident that the whistle and pepper spray on your keychain combined with your Momma-bear instincts will save your child?
Not only do we burden ourselves with thoughts of cries of help through our phone, but we also place the weight of final goodbyes on them.
There is that thought that we have to be able to tell our husband, friend, child, parent, that person we love that we love them before their plane goes down, so we always have to answer the phone.
Even if they aren’t flying, we still have to answer the phone because maybe, maybe, their plans changed, and they are traveling and suddenly have found themselves in danger.
Instead of living in that agony every time the phone rings, why not just make sure everytime you leave someone you love, you let them know you love them?
Why wait until the hostage situation or the doomed plane flight to cry over a crackled phone connection that you love that person?
Don’t leave things unsaid, especially if it is an I Love You because the truth is, very few people get one phone call before they leave this earth.
Don’t live your life waiting for that final call or text to say what you should have said.
Who needs that type of agony?
Regularly connect with those around you. Don’t lock up your relationships in a password encoded cell phone.
If you haven’t noticed, life goes by fast.
Wasn’t I just 24 year’s old yesterday?
There are so many stories of people on their phone and completely missing a home run hit at a baseball game, or a dolphin jumping out of the water.
I remember one time I was in Austin, Texas on Sixth Street listening to this fantastic band. At the table in front of me sat a woman completely entranced with her phone. The lead guitar player jumped down off the stage, and played a guitar solo while on his knees surely rousing the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. The guitarist was so close to this woman.
She never looked up.
She never noticed the firey display of the impassioned musician inches from her while she stared at her phone.
If I had to live that moment over, I would have walked up to the woman, snatched her phone, ran to the front door, and thrown her phone into the street.
Surely, that would have saved her from her imprisonment.
Step 3: Take a break from your cell phone and turn it off.
Put it down, and walk away.
When I was a kid, back in the old days, we had a wall phone in the kitchen. It had a long cord on it, so I could sit all the way in the dining room and talk on the phone “in private.”
The world didn’t end because I had to share one phone with six other family members. The whole family knew who I was talking to, and it wasn’t a problem. We thought we were pretty fancy because we had a telephone with an extra long cord.
There were many times when the phone rang while we were at the dinner table, and my mother would say, “We will not answer that phone. We are eating dinner.”
The call would go unanswered, and everybody was fine.
None of us would jump up and race to the phone to answer it.
That would be crazy because we were eating dinner.
It seems now that people think a cell phone is a birthright.
When my kids were teenagers, they would often get their phones taken away from them if they did something wrong.
I would hear comments from my community like, “Oh, I would never take my child’s cell phone away.”
It’s a phone, not a pacemaker for their heart!
It’s OK not to be in touch with every person you have ever had contact with every single minute of the day.
Take a break.
It’s far better to talk to people face-to-face than via text.
I can’t list the number of times conversations have gone wrong through text without even adding in the complications of autocorrect.
One time, I texted my daughter “K” instead of “OK,” and she wanted to know why I was so mad at her when I was just trying to be cool.
So “OK” is ok, but “K” means I am pissed at you and being passive aggressive?
Take control of your life and disconnect your phone.
Turn off the power on your phone, and leave it in the kitchen. Try it just for the night.
Then, be bold and advance your time to an entire weekend with the phone off.
Take a break for a week. Leave a message on your phone that says, “If this is an emergency, please call [Fill in the name of your spouse or friend]. If you leave a message here, I will return your call next week. You can also email me at [Fill in your email address]”
Give yourself time to breathe.
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