Are you a phone addict?

Are you a phone addict?

Written by: the editorial staff of goop


Published on: January 12, 2023

If you stand with your phone in your hand by default, you might be an addict.

No really. Jungian psychologist and addiction expert Carder Stout, Ph.D, sees clients struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs for sure. But also: dependence on connection, vanity, anger, love, overthinking. In his new book, We are all dependent , Stout argues that any fixation that separates you from your innate humanity can be considered an addiction. If your phone has become a problem, he encourages small steps—followed by bigger ones—toward digital sobriety.

And if you’re tired of your smartphone, consider using something like this Easy phonewhich allows basic functions (talk, text, navigation, music, podcasts, an alarm clock) without socials, emails or an internet browser.

Not so smartphones

By Carder Stout, PhD, from We are all dependent

For the past ten years, I have had a hard and fast rule in my therapy office – I ask my patients to turn off their phones in the waiting room before entering. Turning the phone down completely creates a different energy than going into airplane mode, and I’ve noticed that my patients relax in a different way when they’re completely disconnected. My patients thank me for this edict – many of them tell me that this will be the only time that week that their phone is off. Some of them have no idea how to turn the phone on and off as they have never done it before. About half of them are onboard or compatible, but many phones have beeped during a session after a patient has assured me it’s turned off.

The anxiety of being without their phone, even for a short period of fifty minutes, is one reason they are dishonest with their psychologist. In fact, a handful of people have left my practice specifically because of the phone guidance. It has been an interesting, random experiment on human nature in the age of technology. I can see how attached people are to their phones. They will lie, argue, justify and demand that it is on and available at all times. Now tell me – do you think this is healthy? Does it sound familiar to you? Do you know how to turn off your phone?

When I get home from work, I practice another ritual. I check my phone to see if an urgent question is needed, and after completing this task, I shut it down – completely. Between 19:00 and 07:00 I am off the phone. This felt strange at first as I had also built up an addiction to it, but after a while it started to seem normal. I returned to the days of my childhood before smartphones were invented. I can’t tell you how refreshing it feels to unplug from the constant give-and-take with my phone. I focus my energy on cultivating my relationships with my two children and my wife. We read stories together, talk about our days, work on puzzles, play games and eat uninterrupted meals. I believe that this time is sacred – I will never get it back and it should be optimized. My children will thank me for it one day, but in a way they already do, as their joy is connected to the time I give them. They haven’t grown up in a household culture where phones are held high and therefore don’t know any different. My relationships have improved since implementing these boundaries, and that comes as no surprise to me.

The soul promotes the expansion of human experience, not the contraction of it. From the perspective of the soul, smartphones inhibit the primal, innate desire to mingle with one another, and they change the way we perceive the people in our lives—even those we care about most. Remember, the soul is our greatest asset when it comes to healing. Its main purpose is to show us alternatives to our negative and ego-driven pursuits and help us restore happiness and love in our psyche. The soul is eternally fluid, immovable and impervious to harm. It is the constant in our lives that determines how we authentically feel and consistently pushes us to be better. The soul is much more interested in the cultivation of human relationships through direct experience rather than by artificial means. The phone is purely a product of ego, and addiction loves anything ego-driven. The soul cherishes freedom, while the ego is seduced by entanglement. The soul knows not to rely on validation or compliments to establish one’s sense of self, but the ego derives its nature from this very exchange.

Daily changes can make a big difference. When you are not using it, you should put your smartphone away. When you’re with others, switch to airplane mode and focus your attention completely on the person in front of you. It’s hard to concentrate when an audible little beep alerts you to a new notification. Turn off notifications or leave your phone on silent and enjoy the time you have with others.

Extracts from We are all dependent by Carder Stout, PhD. US copyright © 2023. Published by Viva Editions, an imprint of Start Midnight, LLC, New Jersey. All rights reserved. No part of this extract may be reproduced or reprinted without written permission from the publisher.

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