Highest Self Podcast Episode 016: Why I Decided To Turn Off My Instagram DM’s

DM= Direct Message, a feature Instagram added last year to allow direct-messaging which has led to a SERIOUS influx of constant communication amongst millennials, taking away from out ability to be present and focus. Find out why I turned off this function so I can be more in the moment and put out more valuable work out there.

I still post on Instagram daily and find it an incredible tool for spreading consciousness- if you use it correctly! The trick is to know when to put down your phone and look within instead. Follow me on Instagram @IAmSaharaRose for daily spiritual wisdom, Ayurvedic recipes and more.

Learn more about mind-body balancing in my book Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda here.


Episode 016 – Why I Decided To Turn Off My Instagram DM’s

By Sahara Rose

Namaste, dear friend. So I was actually thinking about using “it goes down in the DM. It goes down in the DM, hey” in the intro music instead of my beautiful Maneesh De Moor Indian song. But I decided to stick with the classic, stick with what works. But today’s little episode is going to be about these damn DMs. Darn. They are destroying our lives and relationships one moment at a time. So I’m going to be sharing about why I decided to turn off my DMs, and why I think you should, too.

So again, this is a personal opinion, this is something that you can or cannot choose to listen to. But I’m just going to share what worked with me, why I chose to do it, and why I think it’s a good idea that more people should consider. So in the past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with the idea of wow, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could go back to the way I was when I was in Bali, just totally deep in myself with no just external noise, and chatter, and hearing about this, and hearing that. And but obviously I’m not going to go back to Bali right now. I have a lot of things going on, and I love my life here in Los Angeles. But really just cultivating more of that inner knowingness and stillness, especially as I ascend and my vibration increases, and I want to create the best content that I ever have in my life.

But I was looking back at the work that I wrote in Bali. I wrote a book called “How to Operate on a Slow Level,” which I never put out there. But for the first time after three years I was rereading it, and I was like, “Holy shit, this is genius. This is amazing. Like how did my 23-year-old self even think of this stuff?” And the reason that I was able to get there was because I had no external noise. So when I got to Bali, about two weeks in I bought a one-way ticket. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to stay, and my phone fell in a waterfall.

So I was staying in a remote village in Sudaji, a very small town in the north of Bali where the closest Apple store was—or store that even sold Apple products, not its own Apple store—was six-hour drive away. Like I was not in the tourist areas, I was not even in Ubud at that time. I was straight up in the jungles, where I was the only person in the village who was not Balinese. And I didn’t want to leave. That’s where I wanted to stay at that time, and I was just doing deep inner work. But now my phone was gone, so I was like,  “Well, what am I going to do? Am I going to get another phone? My mom’s going to freak out if she doesn’t hear from me,” because already she obviously did not really want me there.

So I decided, okay, for the meantime I will just get a Balinese phone. So I just went to the local store and I just got like a straight up old school cellphone that doesn’t have internet, doesn’t have any cool apps, it just can make phone calls. And it was weird, because first of all, you don’t have to charge those things like ever, they last for like a week, it’s kind of amazing. But suddenly I was like, “Whoa, what do I do with all my time?” Like I wasn’t Instagramming, I wasn’t taking pictures, I wasn’t this. It didn’t have any features on it.

And that allowed me to be so much more present in the moment. I started taking photography on my actual camera. I started to, you know, journal on a pen and paper. I started to just live like a normal human being did for thousands and thousands of years before the past decade where we all basically have a third arm extension, which is our cellphones in our hands all the time. And it was such a beautiful experience. It allowed me to cultivate this incredible inner knowing work that exists inside of me, but it’s hard to get to because I’m someone that works in the online world. I’m a social media personality, you would say, but I create YouTube, Instagram, podcasts, all of the things. So it’s hard for me to have moments of stillness.

And you know, it kind of hit me when I was like, okay, I’m going to take a self-care bath. And then I was like, “Oh my god, I have so many DMs to respond to.” I’m someone that—like I’m a Vata, we get anxious. So if I have messages that I don’t respond to, it gives me anxiety. So seeing the growing number of, you know, the little red flag that comes up on the upper right-hand corner of your app, and it’s like one unread message, ten unread message, 20 unread messages. I had over 200 DMs that I needed to respond to that had just accumulated in the past like three days. That I was like okay, I’ll use my bath as like time to respond to my DMs.

And I was noticing that any moment I had, a second, I was waiting for the elevator, I was waiting for my car, I was standing with my boyfriend. Poor guy, I’m always responding to my DMs. The thing about responding to DMs, it’s opening up a can of worms. Because god bless all of you who DM me, but it’s like when you start answering someone’s question, they think, “oh, well, she’s down to answer all of my questions.” So they start to ask you, “I’m at the grocery store, what should I get?” Or “this happened, what should I do?” Or da da da da, and you become like their little like Ask Jeeves, or their Siri or something.

And the thing is, it’s like for me, like actually this is what I do for a living, like I have clients. And me responding to all of these DMs, as much as I want to answer, it’s not respectful to my time or my client’s time, because they’re people who are paying me for this advice. And if I’m dishing it out for free for everyone, it’s like well, that’s just disrespectful for them. And also, to me, that I’ve given my whole life to share this practice. And if I’m just responding to every single person who needs a hand, which I love to do, I won’t be able to live. I’ll straight up become homeless.

So I was realizing that I was spending up to two hours a day responding to people’s DMs. And the thing is, when you work in spirituality and eating disorders, the DMs are not just quick little like, “You look great.” Like sure, I can respond to those. It’s like five paragraphs, life stories, I’m lost, I’m confused, I don’t know what to do. Like I receive dozens of these every single day, and I’m so grateful and honored that you choose to come to me with your issues, but at that same time, I can’t respond with an emoticon with that. So I respond back a few paragraphs, and it turns into this discussion. It turns into me not creating content, not creating blog posts, not creating podcasts, not being fully present for my clients.

Not me living at my highest self because I’m here, trying to give advice to someone that I don’t even know anything about their life because truly on a DM, it’s just very surface level. So really with the conclusion that I came down to was me responding and spending all these times answering DMs is not helping anyone. It’s not helping that person because I’m not there, I don’t know them, I don’t know their whole life. And that’s what you need to truly get down to any issue. It’s not something that can be addressed. And you know, people are like, “I’m confused and at a loss for life. Do you know what I can do?” I don’t know. I don’t even know your name, you know. Like it’s not something that someone can answer on a DM.

So when I was at the sweat lodge the other day, I posted about this on my Instagram Story. What I kept thinking about was like oh my god, it would be so amazing if I could just turn off my DMs. And I saw like some other Instagram influencers have done it, and I was like, oh my god, like how do they do it? Like don’t their followers get mad at them? Like again, my own projection. But the whole time when I was at that sweat lodge and I’m sweating bullets, I’m like oh my god, I wish I could just turn off my DMs. Like it’s literally giving me so much anxiety.

I wake up, and the first thing I do in the morning is check my DMs. When I go to sleep at night, the last thing I do is check my DMs. At least—at least 100 times during the day I’m checking my DMs. And since I’m someone that wants to help everyone and I’m so empathetic, and I feel their pains, I’m answering every single person, we’re going back and forth, and da da da da da. And I can’t live my own life, I can’t be my highest self, and I can’t truly help more people doing that.

So today when I went to the Love, Wellness, Beauty Festival, a lot of the different health and wellness influencers were saying the same thing. That social media will burn you out, and how important it is that you set boundaries with it. And that’s something that I’ve always known about, people talk about. Ayurveda says, you know, don’t have your phone after sunset, and put it away. But it’s something I realistically did not follow because it was pride in myself. I answer every single DM, I know all my followers. Not realizing that it was burning me out.

You know, people always ask me, “Like aren’t you so tired and busy cause you’re writing all these books and podcasts?” No, that stuff is not what burns me out. I love doing that stuff. It’s the constant responding, constant needing to explain myself. For me, personally, that’s what burns me out. And it takes knowing thyself, you know. You can’t be everyone for everything because you are one person. So really, what I want to teach people is radical self-reliance, okay? And radical self-reliance is like what the whole ethos of Burning Man is, but it’s to listen to the eternal wisdom that lives inside of you.

So we already have the answers to our problems that we are seeking. A lot of times we ask people things that we already know the exact answer to. But we just want someone to reiterate it for us. Should I break up with my boyfriend? You already know. If you’re asking me, the answer is yes, okay? I used to do that. What should I do about my boyfriend? It’s like obviously, should I break up with him if I’m going around asking everyone I know. But again, it’s that needing external validation. What should I do about this fight? Should I keep this friend? No one can answer that for you. Only you can answer that for yourself.

And that’s what I want to teach people. To be your highest self, you cannot constantly receive advice. I don’t believe, personally, in having a team of people that you consult with for all of your issues. I don’t believe that that’s healthy. I know people have:

  • their psychic

  • and their astrologer

  • and their tarot reader

  • and their angel

I don’t think that’s healthy. You need to depend on your own intuition. These things can be fun tools, you can use your tarot cards as a toy. But it’s you who knows the answer. I don’t give a shit what your astrological chart says, okay?

So again, these people that we oftentimes look up to on social media, we have to remember they are just humans. They don’t know. They’re just living their own lives. We’re all just trying to figure things out. So I am just here sharing. I am just here to be a mirror for you. Just here to show you that I’ve cultivated wisdom by tapping into my internal self. And I want the same for you. But that wisdom is not just in me, it’s just as much as in you as it is in me. And by me saying, “do you know what’s really going to help me go even deeper? And elevate even higher? It’s to turn off the noise.” And that’s why I am suggesting that you also turn off your DMs. Because you don’t have to have tons of followers to get tons of bullshit messages every single day. I think we all get them.

So really, if you ever have read my website, the bio that’s on it, I always say, “I want to teach you to be your own healer.” Again, I want to teach you the tools that you need so you can heal your own mind, body, and spirit. Because when you are at your highest self, you are not going from person to person for answers. You’re just tuning in, you are scanning yourself. When you’re feeling a little off, you’re scanning, “Hey, ears, how are you feeling today? Hey, brain, how are you feeling today? Hey, stomach, how are you feeling today?” You’re tuning into your own body’s wisdom. And you do it enough, that body part’s going to speak back to you. Stomach’s going to be like, “Yeah, I don’t like all this gluten you’re feeding me. It’s not working.” Brain’s going to be like, “Yeah, and you never rest. I’m constantly moving.” Our bodies speak to us all the time. And that’s what I want to teach you.

This constant influx of DMs makes us forget that we have this inner voice, that we have this internal healing power. And it makes us also do things for outside enforcement. So we’re constantly today getting feedback from others. Whether they’re our families or strangers that follow us on social media. And, you know, I see people are like on social media. I mean, I’m very fortunate all of my followers are like very positive. But I’ve gotten comments before like, “oh, you’ve changed” or like “oh, I don’t think this is in alignment.” It’s like who are you? You don’t know me.

So we’re like getting all this weird feedback and voices. And the thing is, those same people would never come up to you in a real life and say that. Never. But when we’re hiding behind these screens, we like are like, “I can say whatever I want.” We like say mean things to each other all the time. And it’s because, you know, we don’t feel that other person’s energy, we don’t feel that person’s aura. It’s way easier to talk shit to someone that we don’t ever have to come face to face with, but put them side by side next to each other, and they’ll be smiling and hugging. So I don’t like that part of social media, that outside enforcement, the negativity that often comes from the detachment when it’s not two humans talking. And again, the not listening to your own bodies wisdom.

The other thing is really the time that we spend. So imagine the other things that you could do in that time that you spend scrolling through Instagram, responding to DMs. Do you know what, guys? I don’t scroll through Instagram. Like I straight up don’t. I go on there to post, maybe I’ll look at what some of my friends are doing, and that’s it. I don’t scroll at all. In fact, my newsfeed is like—I don’t even know who I’m following on there. It’s literally like random people, and I’m in the process of just kind of unfollowing everyone at this point. Because I’m just going on there to share, and I will go on people’s pages that I know, there’s inspiration waiting for me there. But just to scroll through the newsfeed and see what’s going to pop up, no. I would rather scroll through my mind and see what pops up.

  • A thought

  • An idea

  • Playfulness

  • Bliss

  • Joy

I’m much more interested in scrolling down those things than a newsfeed.

So when we create evergreen content, what is evergreen content? Evergreen content is content that can last, that more and more people can see as time goes. For example, a podcast is evergreen content. It’s not going to disappear in 24 hours like an Instagram story. It’s something that people years from now can listen to, I hope, if podcasting still exists. But it’s something that you have one episode that you put out, and thousands of people listen to it. Whereas you are just responding to DMs, it’s just one person is hearing that question. And you’re not helping as many people because that one question that someone had is probably the same question that 1,000 other people have.

So that’s why I much prefer getting people to email me their questions. I always say, “email me your podcast questions,” and then I can answer them on air so everyone can hear them. But it’s not fair, like what I used to do is, you know, I was like well, this is someone that needs my help. So I would go into great lengths and explain these things. And then the next day I would get the same question from someone else, and I was like oh my god, I’m going to have to—should I copy/paste it? I can’t find it. It’s just me wasting time, where the first time I got the question I could have said, “Okay, noted. Make a blog post about it, make a podcast episode about it, address it. And then it can help all of the other people who have that same question.”

So if you are someone that wants to be a healer, or a spiritual worker, or any type of online personality, business coach, whatever it is, focus on evergreen content. Because that’s going to help way more people than you one-by-one responding to every single DM. And I know it’s great, I’ve made a lot of great friends and connections through DM, but it comes to a place in time that you—we don’t have forever. Our time is very limited, so you have to really decide like am I spending all of my time in the most efficient, productive way? And productive can mean it’s rejuvenating me as well. DMs are neither very rejuvenating, they’re in fact stressful, nor are they productive. They’re neither. They’re a waste of time.

So on top of them being a waste of time, they are not doing service to anyone. So that same person who had a question for you, like sometimes like I’ll post a product. Like this is a product that I use, and it will have the name brand of the product. Somebody’s like, “what’s the product called?” It’s like well, it’s right there in the picture. So then you message it back to them, they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know.” It’s five minutes, you know, of your time. You think five minutes is not a lot. When you’re someone that has a lot of followers and a lot of questions, five minutes, five minutes, five minutes adds up to hours a day that you are spending that you could have—you could have written a new blog post that talked—went into depth about that subject. Instead, you’re staying surface level. And you know me, I don’t like surface level anything.

And it also disempowers people from just Googling something. You know, like I figured out a lot of things from Google. Like I think half my life I figured out just through my own internet research. And now we’re just DMing people the questions for everything when we could simply just look them up ourselves and use our own two feet. Again, it’s radical self-reliance. No one has the answers, you need to do the work. So really, if you were someone that feels like oh my god, I need to respond to everyone, you really aren’t doing a service to them. In fact, you’re disempowering them from their own internal power.

So what I hope for everyone is to come to the place where they are so connected with their own internal wisdom, that creativity flows from them. That they are in alignment with their truth, that they know exactly who they were meant to be. And I think blocking ourselves from the constant noise of social media can really, really help with that. I’ve seen it happen with me just to day turning off the DMs. I’m realizing I feel so much more peaceful because I don’t have to check my phone every three seconds and see if there are more messages. And if you’re someone—some people, like my friend showed me her phone today, she has over 700 texts that she hasn’t responded to. That would drive me up  the wall. Like I can’t have any red notifications anywhere. If it’s there, I need to answer them. That’s just me, it’s a Vata characteristic. We get anxious when there are open things that we know we need to respond to, and it begins to think—accumulate all of our thoughts.

So if you’re someone who you can just have all the unread DMs and just leave them there, then fine. But the thing is, it’s not even being respectful to that person because it takes a lot for someone to write a DM to you. They’re really pouring their heart out there, they’re being really vulnerable and sharing something that they probably don’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else. And they’re expecting a lengthy and heartfelt response back. And if you don’t have the time to do that, then—and you just send back an emoticon or you just see it and you don’t respond, it’s actually just going to make them feel worse and more ignored.

So I would rather have them not message me, or email me, or something like that. Cause you know, if they really need to talk to me, I’m still available on email. I haven’t disappeared off the face of the universe. But a lot of people just want to vent. And they’ll just send you the DM, and if you don’t respond, they’re just going to feel worse about themselves. So I would rather not have that lingering thing that they’re anxious of, “oh my god, she saw it, is she going to respond?” Just not have that as an option available to them. Because that way, they either are going to come up with the answers themselves, or write an email to you. And an email is way easier to respond to. Emails are something you can schedule out for. I mean, we all still receive tons of emails. It can definitely be overwhelming.

But I think DMs is a whole other ballgame because we are constantly on our phones, we’re constantly on Instagram—especially if you’re someone like me that, you know, social media is such a huge part of my online platform. It’s my entire business is based off of that. So if I’m always on Instagram, I’m always responding to DMs, I can’t post. So I just want you to know is

  • Are these DMs really helping you in your life?

  • Are they really helping you become your highest self?

  • Would you still be posting the same things if you weren’t receiving constant noise and feedback?

Because for most of us, I hope, we’re not doing it to get compliments or for fame. We’re doing it so we can honestly spread the word about living a more intentioned and balanced life. So for me, I’m here to serve. I’m here to show you as a reflection that you can be your highest self. And it would be hypocritical for me to wake up and go to sleep, and 100 times a day be checking my phone and telling you to be your highest self, when again, I’m not. So I am owning up to that, which is why I’ve chosen to turn it off.

And the best way that someone can show me love instead of writing me a message or something like that, like I appreciate it, but I don’t need it. My ego does not need a boost. It’s just by spreading the word. Like tell your friends and family. Post about it on your Instagram. Or write a review on the iTunes store, because that’s how more people can see it, and this message can be spread more. That means so much more to me than a compliment. As much as I appreciate your compliments, I don’t need more compliments in my life. I’m secure in myself. Even if I lived in a little hut by myself for the rest of my life and never heard from anyone again, I’d be cool.

So don’t worry about me. If you want to spread this work, spread this movement, tell your friends and family, and you become the light. As a leader, I want to empower you to lead, I want you to step up into your greatness. And that’s the difference between someone who’s doing it for the fame and popularity who had never turned off their DMs because that’s their source of validation. And someone who’s here to create a movement, to create a change, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to empower you. I’m trying to challenge you, and sometimes tricky situations where maybe you feel a little judgmental at the beginning, and may now you understand.

So just know that the more in touch you are with yourself, the less you need to go to external sources for validation. And you know, it feels so good today to be able to just post something on my story and put it out into the universe without having to worry about responding to all of the comments that are going to come after because it allows me to just—now I want to post even more, I want to share even more. Because social media can really be a beautiful thing if we use it in the right way. We set these limits, we set these office hours essentially, for everything. But especially for these DMs, which can really tarnish relationships and tarnish your life.

So if you think about it, most of these modern self-help books will tell you not to check your email all the time, and set like time restrictions and stuff. But it takes over a year for a book to be published. And the book probably took another few years. So there aren’t really any books about your relationship with DMs. You know, DMs didn’t even exist a year ago. So we’re really walking into new territory, and no one knows how to balance it. So that’s why I’m here sharing with you that I think it’s just better to turn off your DMs than have hundreds of ones you haven’t responded to. And it allows you to be more present, it allows you to encourage people to rise up and seek for the answers within themselves. And it allows you to live more presently in the moment so you can evolve. So we want to move the energy away from living for outside reinforcement, and instead into our own internal validation.

So I hope you guys enjoyed listening to this. I hope it inspires more of you to turn off those DMs and become more present in the moment, and create more meaningful evergreen content that can influence the lives of countless and countless people for years to come. Namaste.

Episode 016 – Why I Decided To Turn Off My Instagram DM’s

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