Dry July, is typically known as the month you abstain from something that is toxic, traditionally, alcohol.
I don’t feel alcohol is having too much of a toxic effect on my life right now, so I’m not drying out on that.
I am however, drying out on Instagram. It is the greatest toxic presence in my life right now, far greater than the odd glass of wine or cider I have after a long day, or to celebrate with friends.
It just so happened that my desire to quit Instagram for awhile coincided with Dry July, but it makes me think, what a great time of the year to evaluate what is and isn’t working in your life and make a decision to improve it.
It might be alcohol, it might be something stronger, it might be Instagram, it might be a toxic relationship, or a toxic mind.
Whatever it is for you, make a commitment to yourself – this is your life, and you don’t have to tolerate anything in it that brings you down and gets in the way of you becoming the best version of yourself.
Sometimes we allow these toxic influences to fester because we think we have to, or we need it, or we don’t deserve anything better.
But these are just excuses we give ourselves through a fear of missing out, or insecurity over our worth.
How do you know if something is toxic?
If it keeps you awake at night. If you feel trapped by it. If you feel like you can’t get by without it. If you turn up to it dragging your feet. If you complain endlessly about it.
If it brings you pains in the chest, or any pain in your body. If it tightens your breathing. If it causes you to feel jealous, insecure or judgmental. If it causes you to do things that are out of alignment with your integrity.
I think you get the picture. It just doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t feel like flow.
Believe it or not – and we’re rarely taught this – life is meant to be loved and enjoyed. I know you may be scoffing and spluttering right now as you sit amongst a pile of problems and struggles.
But how much of those problems and struggles are brought about because of the toxins in your life?
Toxins you could quite easily let go of, but you don’t because you feel like you need, have to, or should be doing them.
If it doesn’t make you feel good it’s a sure sign you shouldn’t.
So that’s what has lead me to quit Instagram for Dry July. Actually, I quit it a few days ago in June. So now I’m sitting on my porch with the early morning breeze and the sound of the birds and I feel good.
I feel freer and more like my old self.
I just don’t feel good about Instagram
To be honest, I never have.
Is it the platform or is it just me? I don’t know.
But, when I constantly hear statements like this, “I’m doing it for the gram.” If a place is not grammable, it’s not worth visiting,” and when I see the lengths people go to get the perfect Instagram photo, including invading people’s privacy, stomping over Mother Nature, and going to dangerous edges just to capture a photo that will paint a picture of how amazing they are for a bunch of likes, I can’t help but think there is something wrong with this platform.
Many people complain about how overwhelmed, consumed and frustrated by it and how they feel if they don’t get x amount of likes and “engagement” they won’t be important enough .
Some people resort to buying followers and likes just to get that engagement to prove to a brand, who only looks at this metric, that they are influential and worth working with. I get pissed off and frustrated by it. But, really why should what other people are doing affect my experience with something? This is my Instagram issue to figure out.
This is not a judgmental post at all. I totally understand. This platform is something that is consuming a lot of people, causing anxiety, leading them down wrong paths, and most importantly, and in the most detrimental way, causing them to forget their own worth.
It’s like when my dental hygienist said the other day when she asked me if I was flossing enough, said “It’s okay. I’m not here to judge or shame you.”
I instantly felt better.
I don’t want to judge or shame anyone either. We’re all good people waking up each day trying to do the best we can. We have dreams and goals to pursue, and people in our lives to care for. It can be very scary to have that responsibility. Life with all its pressures and our own deep seated fears and insecurities can lead us astray and far from what’s in our heart center.
I want to share how this journey is for me, and hopefully help someone reading this who may be struggling. To know, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Toxins, like Instagram, do not have to control your life.
The toxin consuming your life could be YouTube, Facebook, a blog, a co-worker, the corporate ladder, alcohol, or painkillers.
No matter, I just want you to know you have the power to untangle yourself from that toxin and not let it control you.
The All Consuming Aspect of Instagram
It was the day that they released IGTV that I just fell apart. What? You mean there is something else on this platform for me to do?
Now as I film video for YouTube I have to turn my camera around and do it horizontal to fit in to this mobile format. And if I don’t then I’m going to lose the Instagram battle to be seen even more?
“God Caroline. Mark Zuckerberg is trying to consume your life and take all of your energy and attention.
Your children need your time and energy more. Your purpose needs your time and energy more. The things that fill your life with joy need your time and energy more.
You don’t have to do anything. You have nothing to prove. Get out and take a break. Return to your center. Do the work that fulfils you and helps others.”
And so after a fitful sleep I decided to ditch the fear of missing out and the overwhelm and take a break from it. Make the statement that I don’t need Instagram, or anything, to be successful or happy.
It’s time to take my power back, release this need to be seen from it, untangle my ego from the trap of it and figure out how I can make it be a joyful part of what we do, or no part at all.
I can ditch Instagram entirely and it would not affect our income nor our growth (which is huge at the moment) so then why don’t I? Why do I worry so much about this platform?
It’s purely an ego thing. A need for validation. A fear of not being seen of not being good enough. Of now being too old.
It’s how all consuming it is.
To get a good amount of likes, you have to spend two hours perfecting a shot, then two hours writing the perfect caption, then researching the perfect hashtags, then two hours engaging with others in the community, and hope you’ve cracked the algorithm. For what? So I can say I get X amount of likes therefore I am worthy?
I’m so lucky that I don’t even take the photos. Craig runs around in the background popping off shots as we’re having our travel experiences. That’s what he loves. But I do the Stories and I try not to let it consume every activity we do, but it can be hard to switch it off.
It feels like a platform that requires me to be so “look at me and my perfectly crafted life,” where I’d rather be, “Hey, this is the real journey, and here’s how you can love it regardless of its twists and turns.”
I’d much rather schedule separate time to devote six hours writing a blog post that is super helpful and useful to inspire people to follow their dreams with action plans to follow.
I can get that post to bring in thousands more readers to spend 6 minutes or more reading it, than I would likes on a single photo that lasts a couple of hours. I can get that post to continue to bring in thousands more readers every month.
I can repurpose that content in multiple different ways. I can write to my email community that is on a platform owned by me and have thousands read it and engage with the content in a matter of minutes.
And I feel so much joy in doing all of that.
Instagram really doesn’t make a lot of sense to the use of my time and passion. And it doesn’t make me feel good about myself.
The Instagram Comparititus Issue
I haven’t even started on how much it can kill a person’s self esteem as they use that platform as a way to compare and turn their eyes away from what is good and worthy about themselves and put it into how much they are not like another.
I was going down that path of comparititus and feeling worthless .
It’s a platform that has never worked very well for us, and I hate knowing that although, we may have a lot of followers, our engagement is really poor. I stress over that. I stress over not being good enough, but stress over the fact, that it looks like we’ve been dodgy.
How can we have so many followers but too few likes and engagement?
Are we that unlikeable? Has Instagram blocked us? Or do we just not play the game well?
The head starts going, “you’re so boring. No one likes you. You’re so old and ugly. “
Can you believe I talk to myself this way? Over a stupid platform?
Do you treat yourself in the same way? Let’s be real, we all have that voice in our head!
Please if you find this platform, or any other entity, or person, renting space in your head like this take a break.
Take a break so you can find your truth again.
But, there is two of us…
Of course, there are two people running the ytravel world, so Craig will still be posting photos as he still wants to. He’s had fun playing with the drone lately so wants to share more of his amazing photos.
Many people do tell us they love the authenticity of our photos and how it tells our travel story. As always, we love and appreciate the support. I don’t want my head space over Instagram to get in the way of me connecting with you. Once I detangle from this platform I think I’ll be able to do that better.
I may even figure this all out before the end of July and return to it then.
Delete the apps off your phone
I have deleted Instagram from my phone, as well as Facebook. I can manage how I use Facebook better because you can use it on a laptop. You can’t with Instagram, which really worries me.
This app is designed to be with you at all times and consume you in all your everyday tasks. If you want to use it, it has to be on that device you carry everywhere with you. It’s so tempting to pick it up just to check and then get sucked in to everyone else’s lives.
I’m still using Facebook as I like it and have no head issues over it. Facebook is how I connect to family and friends, which is so important to me living so far away from them.
But I only check in when I am on my computer only once or twice a day now.
The changes already
It’s only been a week but the difference in my mood and peace has been huge, my head is clear, and my productivity is great.
I’m not turning up to a new cafe and thinking about how I can take a picture and share how cool it is. I can just eat my food as soon as it comes out.
All that matters is the moment I have with the moment. It’s mine to enjoy and that’s what makes it worthy.
I’ve realized how of a habit it is to reach for that phone just to check in. Now I pick it up and realize there’s nothing to check, I put it back down to appreciate the present moment.
I’m noticing what’s happening around me. I’m definitely smiling more and chatting to strangers.
I’m reading empowering books and uplifting documentaries instead and learning so much.
It’s empowering to know that I don’t need Instagram, I am in control, and that life will still flow for me, and I’m worthy regardless of whether I am seen or liked. #trueliberation
I’m not concerned with what others are doing. Hashtags, algorithms and likes aren’t consuming me. Perfecting a photo is not a concern.
I can ditch the make up, the tidy hair and the pristine clothes – let’s face it that is probably why we can’t make that channel work, because what parent has time to look so damn polished and set up the perfect Instagram pose.
As Kalyra is always reminding me, “Mum you’ve got lipstick on your teeth, or your sunglasses are crooked.”
I recently had to tell Allianz Insurance (who we’re ambassadors for),
“I apologize for the delay on our videos. I had to reshoot it as once I got all the footage on my computer to edit it I noticed I had lipstick all over my teeth!!”
I’m just not cut out for this visual marketing stuff.
Give me words. Give me words.
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Find where it flows
My break is teaching me that all the other aspects of my business – our blog, our email, Pinterest, and, once upon time, Facebook have grown and flowed really well, almost miraculous in some parts, because creating for them and participating in them has been a joyful experience for me.
Instagram never has so of course it’s going to be a block for me.
I want to stop thinking that the amount of likes I get is important. It’s about connection and community. How you I help others? If I can only help one person then it’s a major win.
I’ve always had this approach in every other aspect of my business and it has flowed so well. I have no attachment to stats on other platforms because I am attached to serving only.
How can we get joy from this platform, use it as a way to connect and share, without letting it control our lives?
This is the big question I am pondering over for the next month.
I’ve been doing soul searching again lately and looking deep into my heart. And it told me, “maybe I’m saving you from wasting a lot of time. Maybe your heart energy serves a better purpose elsewhere.”
I watched a wonderful documentary called the Power of the Heart.
One teacher shared that it’s so easy for animals to know what makes them special and what they are here for. Birds just won’t all out of the sky and fish won’t drown. They know their special place.
But humans struggle so much because we are so bombarded with what other people think is best and what we should do and who we should be.
We have to look deep within our hearts to find out what we are here to do. For each of us it is different. It’s why it’s essential to listen to your heart to find the answer then use that something special to make a difference.
You may think that you can’t make a difference, but like the butterfly effect, only a small ripple of authenticity, integrity and love coming out of your heart, can cause instrumental changes in people and energy across the globe.
So for this Dry July –ask yourself,
What is toxic in my life? What is stripping the joy from it?
And abstain. You don’t have to quit. Just take a break. See how you feel without it. Give your soul time to figure out how you can perhaps make it joyful or permanently eliminate it.
Because you don’t have to do anything but feel free and joyful. That is the core of your existence and the truth of it.