How to "Get Over Your SELFie"
"GET OVER YOUR SELFIE"
Maybe you've seen this billboard campaign warning us about the dangers of distracted driving…
…the message is simple. Our fixation on staying "connected" is costing lives.
The campaign is focused on the very real danger of choosing distraction over diligence when we're driving. Yet their clever statement is pointing to another danger all together: The Age of the Selfie!
Did you know that today, June 21st is officially National Selfie Day?
That's right! Now we have a whole day dedicated to showing off our best selfies. Sure, it's all in good fun. But just like anything in life that's fun, selfies can come with a cost. It's a cost that's connected to an almost undetectable temptation. And I will argue that none of us are immune.
Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with Blended Family Life — don't worry, I'm getting there…
When Kim and I were on our honeymoon, we found ourselves touring one of the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museums. One of my favorite exhibits is the Fiji Mermaid. This little mermaid mummy is about the size of a 2-year-old with what looks like the torso of a creepy little baby and the tail of a fish.
We've been back a couple of times since then and I love pointing out this real life mermaid! Kim doesn't buy it…but I lean into the "proof" right in front of our eyes. (Between you and me, I know it's a fake, but I won't admit that to Kim and I've stuck beside that for over 18 years…so, help me out with this little charade and don't let her read this!)
I've since discovered the story behind the little "mermaid". It was a hoax from the early 1800's that made PT Barnum a lot of money. It's a work of taxidermy art that combines a monkey and a fish.
Why did Barnum rake in the dough with this façade? Because fake done well is fascinating.
Fast forward to today…we're all sucked into that same kind of hoax every time we open our favorite social media app. Tons of what we see and read is fake, but we don't even realize it.
And if we're really honest, we've all created a little hoax of our own somewhere along the way…
We've all shared a selfie, a story or a comment that wasn’t entirely true. We omitted something we didn't want to reveal or maybe embellished a little — trying to look better than reality.
Somewhere down deep, we know we're faking it. We might even feel a little bit like a fraud…but the temptation to keep up the façade is strong.
And it comes with a cost: What we really want is connection — but the façade drives disconnection.
The more we omit and filter, the less we feel authentically connected.
Most of the time this feels pretty benign. After all, it's only a selfie. It'll be forgotten in about 5 seconds!
But when this same temptation bleeds over into family life, the cost of that disconnection is much greater…
Cropping vs. Coping
I love being able to crop my selfies. There's nothing easier than cropping out that distraction in the background. I get to keep what I want and cut out the rest.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a cropping tool for blended family life? (Trouble with the Ex…just crop 'em out.)
The problem is, blended family life comes with distractions and challenges that simply can't be cropped out. We can try to avoid them, skew them and straight up ignore them…but most of the time we can't get rid of them.
The disrespectful behavior of a step-child. The repeated arguments over money. The tears of disappointment when a child is missing one parent or the other.
These things and many more keep cycling back around driving more and more disconnection. We think "…if we can just get rid of this problem, we would all be so much happier." But our attempts to crop them out continue to fail.
Rather than cropping — every step-couple needs to focus on coping.
Stepfamily life is full of tensions that can’t necessarily be resolved. Our job is to learn how to live well in the tensions — it’s all about coping well.
Coping starts with learning.
Learning that you’re not alone. Learning that there are names for the challenges you’re facing. Learning effective strategies that reduce conflict and stress.
All of this will empower you to live well in the tension. It will give you the tools you need to end those crazy cycles and become a pro at leading your family.
Filters vs. Freedom
Have you ever seen a selfie and thought, “…that can’t be real.”
You instinctively know it’s been filtered. It just looks too perfect. We have a knack for spotting “fake” — and that’s true when it comes to stepfamily life too.
It's tempting to want to "fake" it when we're at work, at church, hanging out with friends…really anywhere in our community. We don't want to drag people down with the stories of our struggles, so we put on the happy face and filter out the reality.
Now, I'm not suggesting ALL of that is bad — and I certainly don't want to encourage us to air our "dirty laundry" in every setting.
But the reality is that some things in stepfamily life are ugly. And we all need a place — a community — where we can take the filters off and simply be real.
That kind community isn't made up of just anyone. It's filled with people who are facing similar challenges and have similar goals. It's a community that will actually encourage you to take off the filters without judgement. It's that group who will encourage you in the journey rather than giving you their oversimplified "solution" to your long standing problems.
Who is that community for you? The one where you feel freedom to be real (good, bad and ugly) rather than the tendency to filter the truth.
If you don't have a community that "gets it" and will join you for the journey of stepfamily life, then reach out to us and we'll help you get plugged in.
Don't Be Fooled…
When it comes to stepfamily life, don't be fooled by these temptations — Cropping & Filtering. You want your whole family to experience genuine connection, but these will lead to disconnection.
You can't crop out the hard stuff and you don't want to live behind a filter.
If you want to build connection, you've got to learn as much as you can to cope with the challenges and spend time with people where you can be real. This will help you create an environment of support and experience more peace in your home.
QUESTION: What next step will you take to learn a new strategy for stepfamily life? Leave a comment below…