I was born in the year 2000 (I guess you could say I’m a true millennial, hehe). Technology was already developing at crazy speeds. Throughout my short seventeen years, I’ve gone from using AOL Messenger on a boxy computer monitor and playing “snake” on my parents’ brick-like Nokia phone to working on a sleek, notebook-sized laptop and having a powerful little smartphone within reach at all times. My generation hasn’t even known a time without the Internet. When I was little, it was a place to play online Pictionary and look up random Wikipedia articles. Now, I need it to complete most of my schoolwork, execute most projects, get most of my entertainment, and it’s even where I hope to one day make a living.
So it’s safe to say that like many from my generation, I’ve been trained to rely on the Internet.
Growing up in the Internet generation
My generation had all of these new technologies completely figured out as soon as we got our hands on them. The new way of obtaining information - searching on Google - became second nature to us and we didn’t even hesitate to make “Google” a commonplace verb. Flat tire? Google. A hankering to learn Spanish? Google. A big trip to plan? Google.
Google could solve everything. So for most of my life whenever I’ve felt sad, stressed, nervous, etc. etc. my first instinct has been to go to Google. With mountains of content out there, surely I could find something that’s exactly tailored to my situation, right?
Google, for example, “I feel stressed about the future” and you’ll find articles like:
- “5 Steps to Find Peace Instead of Stressing About the Future” - wow, a step-by-step approach!
- “Read This When You're Stressed About The Future” - this feels like it’s talking directly to me….
- “15 Reasons to Stop Worrying about the Future | Success” - a whopping 15 concrete reasons, yes!
False comforts of the Internet
It was all very comforting - all of these promises of easy solutions and bite-sized advice that could fix our lives in a week or less. So shiny, so perfect for our short attention spans. Why would we do anything else?
But as I go into practices like journaling, meditation, and mindfulness and I started paying attention to how I was ~actually~ feeling. I realized that this well-intentioned reading and video-watching wasn’t getting me anywhere. I felt productive doing all of this, ahem, “research”. But in reality, I was just getting stifled by information overload. I’d get overwhelmed with all of the tips and tricks and guides and I wouldn’t take any real action. In the end, I would just feel sadder...
The solution can be found in your intuition
When I noticed this, I started making a conscious effort to retreat from the internet whenever I felt conflicted. I realized that the urge to open my laptop and condense my inner turmoil into a neat little search query was a clear-as-day sign that I needed to do the exact OPPOSITE: Pull out my journal, pour my thoughts out, and make my own plan. Think for myself.
At this point, you might be wondering, what is intuition anyways and how does it apply here? By definition, it is knowing something because you feel it, not because you figure it out using logic. It's instinct vs. reason. So instead of gathering facts and information on the internet to find the "logical" solution, I trust that if I listen to my own thoughts I can find the answer there.
Whenever I managed to do this, everything just felt so much simpler. Maybe the solutions I came up with weren’t the perfect, by-the-book, expert-recommended solutions that I could have found on the Internet, but you know what? They worked for me. They made me feel better.
When you should turn to the Internet vs. when you should trust your intuition
You see, the Internet is full of amazing advice. And I’d be doing you a disservice telling you to ignore all of it. If you do that, you will seriously fall behind in this fast-moving world. But there is a time and a place for accessing all of that helpful content and there is a time and place for accessing your own intuition.
Think about it. Those articles and videos won’t do the real work for you, so sifting through all of that information takes brainpower and good judgement. When you see an interesting headline about time management or goal-setting or planning, etc. etc.? Cool! Save it somewhere (try a tool like Evernote or Pocket). Find a good time to consume it, and then carefully figure out what it is that you want to apply to your own life.
On the other hand, when you’re overwhelmed by life and feeling lost, I encourage you to lay off the Internet for a while. In times like this, you are vulnerable to getting sucked down the rabbit hole of the Internet and we all know that doesn’t feel good at all. What you need to do is pull out a pen and a piece of paper and find the answer in yourself. Trust your gut, as they say.
I’m still learning how to do this. I’m not gonna lie, it’s really really hard. I want the easy way, and I have to keep reminding myself that the easy way has rarely actually worked for me. I’ve found that journaling a lot is very helpful in retraining your mind (I have some journaling prompts to help you if you can't think of anything to write).
What helps you listen to your intuition when you're feeling lost?
Wishing you luck in your own journey to listening to your own intuition, and also wishing you a fantastic week,