On maintaining a healthy relationship with... our phones.
Drawing by Becky Rui

Drawing by Becky Rui

When I started properly reading fiction books a couple of years ago and had to keep looking-up what new words meant on my phone 🤔, I would find myself replying to messages that had popped up on my screen instead. So I’d stop reading my book for a while, get back to a friend, think about how to respond to something else, and then I’d go back to reading. Oh, and then look up what that word meant again! And then I'd try and get back in the flow of my book. Repeat.

I realised my peaceful reading time was getting all eaten up by distractions and requests every time I looked up a word, and it felt so wrong! I mean, the answer really is: get a dictionary babe. But it wasn't until I started Googling words when I was reading that I realised how often I must be interrupted by phone notifications day to day. I guess I just thought that seeing and responding to things on my phone was a totally normal thing, and for most people, it is.

Even though having a smartphone is super great for so many reasons, I am relieved that we’re all starting to become more aware of how our usage can also:

📱 Massively distract us from pretty much anything we’re doing
📱 Create an unnecessary feeling inside of urgency to respond to people immediately and be available to them at all times. (This is without saying anything on the effect that social media/the way we consume information online has on us emotionally and mentally. You can read my musings on this here.)
📱 Take us away from the initial reason we went on our phone and get sucked into the digital vortex (like, really)
📱 Create or feed into addictive behaviour and constant, unthinking phone-checking
📱 Act as an acceptable way to put a wall around ourselves when we're out and about, makes us appear unavailable when we're using them (so sad when that becomes a default way of being - yes there are often valid reasons for wanting to blockade yourself, but I think much of it is literally just phone addiction)
📱 Limits our observation of, and engagement with, the 'physical' world around us and our fellow human beings

This is not how it has to be.

And it's okay if we're choosing to 'browse' or scroll or look into things and go down those rabbit holes; that's part of what the internet is for. I just feel it's just a problem when it becomes an unconscious activity that is having a detrimental effect on our mental health, sense of presence, peace and community.

My aim is to protect myself, at least a bit, from the the negative impacts of it and increase my flow and productivity in my personal life and working day. Some of these ideas below for making that shift are obvious and common and you are probably already doing a lot of them, but for anyone else, here are some ideas!

Tips on managing our relationships with our phones as entrepreneurs:

  1. Switch on flight mode when you go to bed. (This way, when I check the time in the morning etc, I am not immediately drawn into messages from people, or what I might have to unexpectedly do that day, etc. If we’re able to take the time, our early mornings can be personal, sacred time to be chill, set our vibration for the day ahead and clarify our intentions, before opening ourselves to any media or communications.)

  2. Only go on social media/maybe news etc once you’ve gotten yourself grounded in the morning or set up for the day. Be patient. For me, this is def after my morning-pages-journaling and after getting clear about what’s most important for me to focus on that day. Then I can go online and see what's up. If I don't have my own clear intentions first, I can honestly get kinda overwhelmed with all the messages and swept into the current of seeing what other people seem to be doing and the troubling news. It's so much more manageable when I enter from a more centred place.

  3. I turned off notifications, except phone calls and SMS messages (which I have to actually unlock to open and see the content of, because... might as well make reading messages a conscious choice, too). Radical. So I just don’t see a lot of stuff until I choose to check my apps (admittedly probably every 1-3 hours most days). You might think you’ll miss out on potential work or things going on with your friends, and maybe you will, but people will call you or text you if it’s genuinely important or time sensitive. If you’re getting all FOMO about it, just tell your real life friends, family and clients to give you a call or text if they need to get hold of you.

  4. I keep my phone on silent pretty much all of the time, except when I’ve got calls booked with clients or something like that. Because, if I’m in the middle of something and I hear a ‘ding’, of course I look at my phone. And I have known myself to get distracted for a minute. Or ten, or twenty.

  5. I arrange set times to speak with my lovely clients. We check in to arrange a time to talk (I use the calendly site), so that we don’t play phone ping-pong and waste time (which you might spend on your phone). This wouldn't work for all types of businesses, but I’m okay with it and it has always worked for me.

  6. Turn off WhatsApp read receipts. Just, so much better.

  7. I tend to keep my phone out of sight and face down when I'm not using it. Because sometimes when it's in my peripheral vision, I get drawn to checking it out of interest. If we look to the science, it's obviously because we are itching for that little endorphin rush you get when a message has appeared. Over and over again. I don't want to be slave to that and I don't think we should allow ourselves to develop that habit, or set that example. I basically get shit done better if I'm not checking my phone every 15 minutes! And, my sense of validation is not dependent on people messaging me on my phone.

But, isn’t this what phones are for? Contact and sharing and staying connected with people? Why even have a smartphone if this is such a big deal for you?

I believe we should each have a say in how we interact with technology, and the freedom to engage with it on our own terms.

Some people might feel this is over the top and strangely controlling, to filter the way I do. But if other people are okay with being on their phones a lot, being constantly interrupted with updates and messages, and if that actually works for them, then I guess that's cool. It's not for me to say what is best for others.

Technology moves so quickly, and I personally want to keep being conscious about my own usage, about where my energy goes and the way it affects my life. If we can be aware of how our phones impact us and the people in our lives, we can consciously adapt our usage and notification settings to serve us.

P.S. I understand that not all of these things are available for everyone to do all the time (phone on silent etc). In certain situations, and for parents, for people who are working on-call, etc you need to receive the notifications. But we can still intend to bring awareness to it.

What do you think? How do you maintain a conscious healthy relationship with technology?

Have you tried any of these things? I’d love to hear from you!

Comment or email me at becky@beckyrui.com

Éadaoin Curtin - Personal Branding Shoot - Dublin, Ireland
 

Oh my gosh, I had THE BEST time shooting with the amazing Éadaoin last summer. Éadaoin is a kindred spirit and was so much fun to spend time with… it was such a pleasure to capture her in and around Dublin, Ireland where she’s based, in her many creative zones and favourite places.

I love getting to capture ‘a day in the life’ of my clients, creating both planned portraits, story-telling images, and unexpected moments, as we flow through the day, and this was one of those shoots. That creative freedom is one of the things I most love about this work… having a strong vision for our session, maintaining clear intentions for the outcome of the images whilst at the same time staying open to creativity and the serendipities!

As a fellow personal brand photographer and artist, Éadaoin was preparing to increase her visibility and share her message in a bigger way.

She was looking to come away from our day with a library of personalised images that she could update her website with, use in Instagram posts, email marketing and more. It was important for her also to experience what it was like to be on the other side of the camera, and go through the journey her own clients go through.

It was so awesome chatting with her and planning the shoot in the lead up to our day, and it was beautiful how aligned we are in our values and approach to our work in branding - we had such a good understanding. She is passionate about women empowerment, visibility and voices, and her fascinating journey has led her to be so beautifully positioned to do this work. You can find out more about her interesting journey on her About page here.

It’s so important to walk your talk, to invest in yourself and also to try being on the ‘receiving end’ of the service you offer to from time to time, because…

  • firstly (obvs!) it provides you with the benefits of whatever that service is.

  • it gives you a truer, deeper understanding of where your clients are at when they come to you, and the challenges they may be facing when they work with you.

  • it provides you with the tools of real experience to support your clients more fully, as you come from a broader perspective.

This is what Eadaoin bravely did for herself, and I think it’s an important journey to take, and example to set.

If you’re investing in yourself, doing the work, and showing that you believe in the service you offer, you inspire others to believe in themselves too, and to understand the value of your offerings.

On our day we documented different aspects of her life, showing her as if on a photo-shoot, getting creative at home, being in nature, and spending time with her lovely partner in the STUNNING Dun Laoghaire.

I traveled over one week in August last year to create these with her and it was an absolute dream visit... loved exploring the area and having some adventures on my own while in Ireland too! Thank you for having me come over to photograph you dear Éadaoin.

You can check out her website here at Firechild Photography and Instagram here at @firechildphotography.

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Are you a photographer who’s finally ready to be seen on the other side of the camera?

Are you committed to walking your talk and journeying into the kind of experience you normally provide?

Is it time to allow your unique creative energy to shine, and give your prospects a taste of what working with you is like?

Email me at becky@beckyrui.com and let’s plan your best shoot, lovely!

An invitation to getting better photos for your business! (Sign up)

The photography you use across your social media and on your website is the first introduction your potential clients and followers will have with you when they initially connect. That first impression says sooo much about you and really counts when it comes to the way your business and offerings are perceived!

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It’s like the poster for the movie, the cover of the book… your photos are supposed to tell your audience about you and give a glimpse of what working together could be like.

While in your videos and written content you have the opportunity to go deeper in words or in movement, your photos are that first piece that grabs their attention.

(You still flick through to look at all the photos before you read a book or article too, don’t you!?)

This means you have the power to put a representation of yourself that is true, feels good, and connects with your peeps!

Join the email series - An invitation…

There are loads of factors that contribute to the narrative of your branding photos, and with my seven years of experience as a branding photographer, I'm sharing a series of emails full of tips and resources on important topics such as...

  • Why your energy is the most important thing about your brand photography

  • How to 'pose', and what your body language is communicating

  • How to choose outfits, colours and accessories based on your unique business

  • How to find the perfect locations, choose props, makeup and more.

In this series I’ll be going through the factors that make for YOUR best photos, breaking them down and clarifying what’s important to think about and what’s really, really not, as you continue along this journey of business and truth.

Sign up below to get the emails - starting next week! It’s an honour to share with you.

This series is really for anyone who’s using photos in their website or social media and uses online platforms to attract clients, whether using professional photography or the power of the selfie.

Suzan Marie - Warrior Woman - Personal Branding Shoot in Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford

I had soooo much fun photographing dear Suzan back in the Autumn in beautiful Hereford and at her lovely bright home just outside the city.

An incredibly inspiring person, Suzan works with women to help them come back to who they really are, empower themselves and go for what they truly desire in life. She works with coaching clients in her online program and runs in person workshops and events, creating sisterhood, community and conversation.

Having recently moved from her home in Cyprus to the UK with her lovely husband and gorgeous baby twins, they were in the process of settling in, and it felt extra special to be documenting the start of this exciting new chapter with them!

Getting to know about her journey and business was fascinating and inspiring as we mapped out her session and the kinds of photos that would be most useful for her website and social media. As she’s also in the process of launching a podcast AND writing a book!! we created a really fun variety of images for the cover and author portrait which I cant waiiiiit to see how she uses.

On our day we captured such a great variety of photographs and stories within them. Some of the themes at the core of her message are…

  • Self-love, care, connection, body acceptance.

  • Identifying your voice and speaking your truth.

  • Playfulness, adventure, fun, joy!

  • Being a go getter! Acknowledging and overcoming limitations. Letting go of what holds you back from what you really want. Improving your mindset.

  • Learning to be open to love in your life, working as a team in your relationship while staying true to who you are as individuals.

While we wanted to create images that showed Suzan in the way she’d show up for events and client work, we also wanted to capture informal photographs that show her in a very personal way at home, as a wife and in her new local area. We conveyed these themes through the smart and professional portraits at home, intimate boudoir images, photos of her exploring her new town and working on her business (at her workspace and from her bed of course).

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When we’re using social media regularly to connect with our prospects, share our message, inspire and educate our clients, it can be super refreshing for them to get a glimpse into our day-to-day lives alongside the polished photos.

When you have a very personal and people-focussed brand, sharing your authentic personality is so important for building genuine, deep and long lasting connection with your clients, and helps your business to be fulfilling and sustainable, as it evolves with you.

I really love to capture those different aspects of my clients lives, because while there are many benefits to looking glam in your photos (it positions you at your best, creates the feeling that you care about the way you present yourself and therefore the quality of your work), it’s not necessarily how we show up every single day, and if that’s true for you it’s great to show that. Humans crave realness and the vulnerability that comes with that.

I really recommend checking out Suzans Instagram here, she is a really brilliant example of consistently showing up, sharing real life and inspiration. Find her online program here!

Interested to show more of your personality through beautiful high quality brand photographs? Send me a message here, and sign up to my mailing list on my homepage for tips on improving your online presence through photography!

Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford
Personal branding photographer UK Becky Rui Hereford

Curious to explore the kinds of photos that will help to grow your business with integrity and love?

Message me here and we’ll find a time to speak!

Joyce Oladipo - Enchant Life - Sexuality Coach & Erotic Influencer - Boudoir Shoot in London

Creating these intimate portraits with Joyce was such an honour and a beautiful thing to do! What a special shoot…

As a sexuality coach and erotic influencer, Joyce works with women internationally to help reconnect them with their sexual power, with pleasure as their birthright, and with the message that happiness comes from within. Part of Joyce’s mission is to help break the taboo around female pleasure and sex, inspiring her clients and women around the world to step into their confidence and power.

Our intention for the photographs was to create radiant and engaging images for her business that felt empowered, feminine and enchanting, tying in some of the rich colours and textures associated with her branding that she shared with me before our day.

We shot in lots of different locations around central London (see more photos from our shoot here), and this was one part of our day that I wanted to share separately on the blog, due to it’s intimate nature and how much of a contrast it is to the rest of our fab shoot.

These images will not be used as the main brand photographs for her soon-to-launch website, but rather as supportive images to share on social media, emails etc where appropriate. A boudoir session like this is also just such a beautiful experience and something I’d love to do more of.

Do go find Joyce on Instagram here and Facebook here. Thank you for having me capture you <3

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Curious about having your own beautiful and conscious boudoir photography session, or a personal branding shoot? Email me here and we’ll find a time to speak.

On Social Media and it's Impact on Identity, Our Relationships and Mental Health

I posted this on my personal Facebook page and appreciated the feedback and conversation it started, so thought I’d share on my blog too as the themes I am exploring are important and something many of us are facing.

Social media plays such a huge part in our individual worlds, if you’re on it most days (or all day). There are things that are amazing about that, and aspects so concerning to me, that are coming to light in research more and more of the time and being talked about. I wrote most of this over a year ago to clarify my feelings just for myself, but didn’t share it at the time because I was confused about it and felt paradoxical to post, but now it feels like I should.

This post is not to belittle the positive aspects of our online culture, but to bring awareness to its impact on our mental health, and really to think openly and talk about it.

I feel some fear to share what I have to say because of the work I do as a personal brand photographer; specifically helping people to represent themselves online, and not wanting to put down the validity of my own work or make it less credible. I have always held the values of love, truth and integrity above all, and have never been supportive of telling any story visually for a business or a person that is untrue. If anything, the work I have been doing for these past seven/eight years has given me so much insight to examine the phenomenon of social media as I have used it in such a big way, and look into how to get this right for ourselves and for the people we impact by being involved with it. As someone who is having conversations about ‘how to show up online’ most days, I feel like this is more important for me to talk about than hide from.

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So… Social media has created a kind of reference point for everyone using it, about what is ‘normal’ through what we see from each other, yet as we all know, this is based only on what people choose to share, and we don’t always remember that. We’re overloaded with information about the people we’re connected to online when we use Facebook or Instagram for example, and the wider world , a lot of the time without even realising it because it's so 'everyday', with information that tells us little bits about what’s happening in other peoples personal lives, relationships, businesses, travels etc. These are things that can help us feel connected and inspired, and things that can create feelings of being totally inadequate, far away from ourselves, our dreams and each other, when we forget that we're not seeing the whole picture or hearing the full story.

We see a curated world, based on how we’ve been interacting online since we started playing with social media, and since the internet was a thing. What you’re looking at is a uniquely refined feed of what algorithms understand that you, personally, will most engage with, enjoy, find of interest — and will keep you online (and I think I think it’s not unfair to say - addicted and buying). I feel that the world we each experience online has been being carved out slowly but surely, like a river, over the years we’ve been using it, and it has affected our interpretation of what the world is, and most likely our tastes and opinions and the way we use our brains, as the river gets deeper, it’s current stronger.

We are each seeing a body of content that is filtered specifically for us, based partly on our choices and interactions, and a partly automated never-ending stream of content. With the amount of time many people spend online, it’s become a huge part of our daily life, our reality. I can't help but ask myself the questions... is that okay? Can this be a positive thing? Can this be a bad thing? Is it just the way it is now? Everything seems totally fine with social media when we’re doing well and have things ‘in balance’. But so many of us just don’t, are struggling with this, and are afraid to say that. Some of us find balance only in going through periods of engagement and then abstinence to be okay. Why is that? And what is it that tips us from one way to the other and back again? I’m curious about how everyone is finding it all, and how we each are developing ways to live with its very real presence.

From my own experience and through conversations with friends and clients, I know that so much of the time we are comparing ourselves to what we see of the lives of others online, and so much of that is unconscious. As I mentioned, we can forget that we're only seeing parts of the lives that friends/creatives/entrepreneurs/influencers are choosing to make public. We accidentally idolise and unthinkingly figure that other people have got it sorted and we are failing behind when we’re not in a good place. We don’t see any of the other stuff going on in their day, the human issues they face, that we all share and don’t always know how to talk about. (I am aware of some amazing users and influencers who really do share the very difficult or weird times too, so I know this is not 100% of people, but it is the majority.) I want to draw more attention to it so we can be aware of how it’s affecting us personally and culturally, and aim to have a healthy relationship with it if we are to continue using. I’ve got some thoughts on that later.

Then it comes to our contribution. Social media is an amazing tool, AND we I feel need to be responsible about the way we interact; personally and in business. Once you add the ‘cultivating of an online personal brand’ and having a service based business that you may feel dependent on for your income, there’s another layer to it all that can be very challenging as you are forced to go within, clarify your identity and message on a public platform and decide how much to say. We as business owners obviously must be true and real at every touch point we have with our followers and clients online and IRL, as ever, but how does having an online presence that you use to represent yourself personally and professionally affect your deeper sense of identity on an ongoing basis?

I don’t mean to blow this out of proportion or scare anyone, but I really feel its important to look at this.

I have been using social media to grow my business for years, and hadn’t had any real trouble with this in my heart. It wasn’t until I was very low for some time, that I questioned what I have been doing, as I realised I felt unsafe to say how I was actually feeling during that time. I touched on it in some of my posts, but I felt way too vulnerable to really share about depression and what was going on… I had been through some pretty big life changes and was finding myself again, and that was my personal journey. It felt messy though, because I thought I needed to keep using social media to run my business but didn’t feel I could be fully honest without damaging what I had already built. It was like flipping between being different people depending on how I was feeling that day… I stayed true in what I did say and still did a great job in my work (my work with my clients and our photo shoots inspire me and add to my creative energy), but I felt unsafe to tell the truth online in my darker times. I felt guilty about that because I was projecting a version of myself that was not whole. I also questioned how much of our full experience is appropriate to be sharing when we have no obligation to say anything at all. If it is acceptable to post only when you’re happy, then what are we using social media for? Who are you writing to? What is it doing to us? And what online identity had I created if I couldn’t be completely honest within it?

I know we wouldn’t walk down the street talking to strangers, friends or clients about everything difficult going on inside for us, so we shouldn’t feel we have to do that online either, but I’m curious about where that line of privacy and self preservation is for each of us, if there is one.

Overall I believe we do have some responsibility to use our social for good, and to be open about the shadow side to the online world. I’m seeing so many business owners trying to find ways to express themselves with their full spectrum of human experience - that the shiny happy posts are not the whole story of every single day, that there are difficult times too, and they’re doing their best to keep it real AND position themselves in their expertise. I think that is really great to see and a relief for many, it starts a healing process.

Every single profile has opened a door to the once private world of each person using it, and no matter how well intentioned we are in our posts, I think it is healthy to question what we’ve been sharing, the stories we are telling, and what ripple effect that causes.

What representation have we crafted about ourselves and our lives over the years of having a personal brand? How connected do we truly feel to the version of ourselves that we share online? How does going on social media make you feel most of the time? How do you feel social media is affecting you?

For the people using it/sharing regularly, as I used to and probably will again, we are posting in the first place to contribute, to stay in touch with those we know, to share ideas... and then we find over time that we have formed an avatar of who we are, an impression of our lives and thoughts based on what we were comfortable sharing or proud to say in that moment. This is happening on a mass scale. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s bad or wrong, it is what it is… we are learning… but by using it at all, we are contributing to the positive and negative effect it’s having on us, our people, children and planet. (And there is so so much good that is happening as a result of fast spreading information which I love and am so grateful for.)

As it will continue to be a thing that most people use, I believe we each need to take personal responsibility for our own consumption of social media and our contribution to it. We need to find our own ways to have a relationship with it that is healthy, kind, inclusive, honest and well rounded. It’s not going away and it is growing. I feel taking this responsibility is especially important for us to do for more vulnerable people (particularly for children and young minds that I believe we have a responsibility to look out for as we build the world they are coming into). I’m sure this is a real phenomenon of our times for all people, not just 20-somethings and business owners.

For now what I would love us to remember as we move forward is that…

1. What we see on social media in general is a curated feed and is not the whole truth.
2. Even though we know at a deeper level that everyone has ups and downs, light and dark, good times and bad times, know that they don’t share all of these personal details of their life because it IS personal and not necessarily safe or appropriate for them to do so. Respect the privacy of others, know that theres a bigger picture behind everything you see. Don’t judge others by what you observe online - there is so much more to them. Be kind.
3. Let’s know that social is an amazing tool for connection and relationships, information and education, inspiration and ideas, yet can also be a tool of harm. Let’s bring awareness to how it is personally affecting us — try to consciously release thoughts of judgement on ourselves and others. For example, when we feel negative emotion come up while using social media, I find it helpful when I can to name what I’m feeling and consider the thoughts that led to it. e.g. ‘I’m not good enough, I should be doing better’ — if that came from actually comparing myself/art/life/home/career/relationship/friendships with something I just saw, I try to notice what it brought up, and take a moment to reconnect with my own truth and what lights me up.
These triggers can be used as a navigational system to help us reconnect with what WE truly desire, what inspires us, or what we genuinely do want more of in our own lives. Sometimes feeling the contrast of something we’ve seen reminds us of our own values… that’s when it can make a positive difference; when it inspires clarity, action or positively motivates us.
4. The only truth that we can hold on to is our own personal truth. By that I mean , as always, we have to trust our own intuition/gut about things, try to notice those moments where we’re comparing ourselves to what we see online, bring our focus to what we’re doing well in our lives and what we care about, what we have to appreciate and be so humbly grateful for… and to know that we are whole — no matter how segmented you may feel because of the impact of technology, no matter where you are at right now and how you’re finding all of this.

As social media and more advanced technology continues to find it’s way into our lives, I want us to consciously think about how we interact with each other through it, in a way that is healthy, if we are to use it at all.

We will navigate this together, and for now and as always I think, taking personal responsibility for our own usage, talking about how we're feeling about it, and bringing kind self-awareness is where we start.