This is the second post on technology, stress, addiction and our brains. Read this first.
Now I may be way out of my league talking about the brain here, so correct me if I miss something.
The reason our addictions occur is because pleasure chemicals fire in our brains, and the brain wants to repeat that as much as it can. The brain finds way to continue to have this response as much as possible, and this response becomes an unconscious, automatic action.
So in terms of yesterday, the more we go to technology for hope and “the sweetness”, the more our brain wants to continue to do this. It becomes an automatic response, and it is one that is opening us up to more stress and anxiety. It is as if technology is making us addicted to stress.
Memories function in a very similar way. Experiences make pathways in our brain. Each time we remember something the pathway is deepened, which makes it easier to access. It is creating automatic responses. So the more we remember something, it makes a deeper imprint on our brain and our brain gives us chemical rewards for accessing it.
Perhaps this is why one of the most repeated words from God to his people is: “Remember.”
Remember your true narratives.
Remember who God is and what he has done for you.
Remember how He views you.
Remember the hope He offers.
We even have rituals of bread and wine whose sole purpose is to get us to remember.
God wants to groove his view of us and our lives so deeply into our brain that it becomes an unconscious, automatic response. When we root ourselves in God for our sense of unsurpassable worth and value; when we remind ourselves that these struggles will not have the last word; when we remember where tangible and true hope comes from – these become automatic responses. We will begin to act like we are valuable and loved without having to think about it.
So he tells us over and over: Remember.
The problem is most of our day is done unconsciously. We respond to the text, the email, the phone call without even thinking. It makes a noise, we need to be there. By leaving technology unchecked, we become more addicted. And the more addicted we are, the more we open ourselves to stress and anxiety.
So here is my recommendation if you find yourself technologically addicted:
1. Take some time out of your day where you do not respond to your phone. But put the phone some place you can hear it. Begin to train your brain that just because something vibrates and makes a noise, does not mean it controls what you will be doing for the next few minutes.
2. Spend some time rooting yourself in God each day. I recommend some sort of common prayer. I often use this, this or this. I have found that starting and ending my day with these dramatically affect how I look at the world and how I look at myself. In fact, I even do these using technology.
Technology does not have to be oppressive. And we can find solutions in these ancient practices of remembering and common prayer.
All of which I access on my iPad.