Auntie D Discusses: Authority, Intuition, and the Dopamine Rush

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I spend more time than I should on Twitter.

For someone who grew up with no neighbors, no internet, and no cable TV, the rush of social media is just a miracle. If you’d told 13-year-old (or 18-year-old or 25-year-old) me I’d be able to communicate almost instantaneously with people around the world, that I’d be able to interact with some of my favorite celebrities from television, movies, and Broadway, via tiny bursts of electric communication, I would have though you were crazy. It would have seemed too miraculous to be real.

But it is real, and for people under a certain age, it’s been their reality for most or all of their lives. Communication, interaction, and feedback are real, instant, and in some cases, brutal. What seems a miracle to an old lady like me is a difficult and harsh reality to those who never experienced life without.

Drama, Drama, Everywhere

This post is inspired by some drama that went on this week on Twitter. Without getting into specifics, one young woman managed to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust among a large group of “mutuals” through a combination of flattery, misinformation, baiting, and subtle emotional manipulation. The resulting clusterf*ck of drama dominated my feed for almost three days (a lifetime in the Twitterverse) and hurt a lot of emotionally-vulnerable people. The girl at the center of the storm deleted all of her social media accounts and pretty much vanished from view.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I remember this from high school. I remember this drama and the pain it caused when you thought someone was your friend and confidante, only to be burned by them in a most public and humiliating way. I was that naïve and trusting person far too often for my comfort.

You’d think the distance of social media would make something like this easier, but it doesn’t. Even if you don’t have someone in your face betraying you, that betrayal still hurts. And since social media is the primary source of friendship and interaction for a lot of young people, it’s every bit as damaging when that sense of security is damaged.

Where is Your Power?

I’d like to say high school was the last time something like that happened to me. The truth is, I still give my power away to the opinions of other people. From checking the analytics on this blog a little too often to reacting giddily when I get a like or response from a celebrity to my social media post, I’m hardly immune to the dopamine rush of social approval. We are all human, and the need for affirmation and acceptance is built into our DNA. It is what helps us survive as a species.

Our ancestors needed group acceptance to survive a harsh, prehistoric environment. As children, we need our families and support group to survive to adulthood. Nature understands this and our body chemistries react powerfully to both positive and negative feedback. It’s primal and pretty hard to resist.

At some point, though, we begin to develop an internal sense of authority that can (if nurtured) supersede the often chaotic and fickle authority of public opinion. That little voice inside of us that reminds us we’re good no matter how many “likes” our Tweets get, no many how many whispered rumors get told about us, no matter what we look like or how much money we have in the bank.

If we’re lucky, we are able to nurture that voice that tells us to question opinion, question authority, and question whether it’s more important to be happy or popular. That voice, when healthy and strong is like an anchor against a turbulent sea. It steadies us, maintains us, and keeps us from being overwhelmed and overturned by the waves crashing around us.

Developing That Inner Authority

Children, whether they were raised in the age of the Internet or back in the Stone Age like me, are rarely taught to develop that internal voice of authority. Children are taught, for whatever reason, that authority comes from the outside – parents, teachers, whoever is in charge. And when there is no adult in charge, children still look for and find that outside authority, providing bullies and manipulators with a ripe harvest of victims at their fingertips.

Sadly, most of us have to learn to listen to our inner wisdom through a series of painful experiences. Sadder still, some people never learn to recognize that power and live their entire lives at the whim of other people’s opinions.

To my young friends who are still trying to find their voice (and my older friends who need a little reminder), here are a few words to help you on that path.

  • You are okay. Just the way you are, just where you are in your life, you are okay. The easiest way to steal someone’s power from them is to convince them that they are not okay, and that you are the person to make them okay. If you want to develop your own sense of personal authority, start here. You. Are. Okay.
  • You don’t need to prove anything. We live in a world that, for good or ill, tends to turn everything into a competition. We are like tributes in a psychological Hunger Games – it’s life or death, completely unfair, and there are no set rules. What the don’t tell you (and really, this is the kicker) is that you don’t have to play. You can be on social media and stay out of the drama. You can go to work and not join the rat race. You can attend school and not jockey for position. If you forget this, go back to the first one. You are okay, just the way you are.
  • If you break it, fix it. You will make mistakes. You will hurt people’s feelings, say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice. Accept this now. Thinking you can somehow avoid the pitfalls of life is the quickest path to the next available pitfall. Just remember, when you break something, fix it. Own your part of whatever drama you experience, learn from it, grow from it, and resolve to do better moving forward. A lifetime of eternal victimhood serves no one but bullies looking for fresh meat.

We all want a world where people are kind, supportive, and helpful. We want that rush of approval that makes us feel important and special. I’m not immune. You’re not immune.

But we are stronger than the approval given to us by others. We possess a source of steady wisdom, the knowledge of right and wrong, and the ability to determine what is right for us. Do your best, be your best, but never let anybody diminish the real authority within you. And remember…you are okay.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to talk to Kat or me about getting a reading with Two Ladies Tarot, please check out our contact information.  As always, if you liked this post, please sign up for our weekly newsletter or follow us Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Please don’t forget to like and share this post. Comments are greatly appreciated.

Peace and Love,

Deb

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

 

 

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