#58 - Voices of Aro: Why we have to create guardrails for our phone use

February 27, 2024
Odette Cressler

Episode Summary

Welcome back to another episode of Voices of Aro! This month, Aro Co-Founder Joey is joined by Odette Cressler, a wife and mother of two living in San Diego, CA. In this episode, Odette shares her 'aha' moment when she realized her phone was getting in the way of the person she wanted to be. Odette goes on to express her realization about living in a world where we don't yet know the full impacts of phones and technology on us. Despite this uncertainty, she emphasizes the importance of not demonizing technology, recognizing both its positive and negative aspects. We wrap up the episode with some encouragement from Odette for parents in her same stage of parenting when it comes to technology and phones. If you're an Aro member and interested in sharing your own Aro story, please reach out to us at stories@goaro.com. We'd love to hear from you!

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Episode Transcript

Joey Odom (00:03):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend Joey Odom, and this is an episode of Voices of Aro. And if you're new to Voices of Aro, I want to tell you a little bit about what it is. So as you know on The Aro Podcast, we have intentionality experts, so authors or entertainers or people who are leading a discussion in something kind of adjacent to intentionality on Voices of Aro. We have experts, but they are experts in being like you and me. They're people. These are moms and these are dads. These are people who are raising good humans and raising kids. And our hope in Voices of Aro is for you to see yourself in these people. So what I mean by that is these people have just like you and me, hopes and dreams and struggles and insecurities. And what I've found happens is when we feel like our problems are unique or our struggles are unique, we usually start to go down or we can go down a little bit of a shame spiral.

We can beat ourself up. What's wrong with me? Because I think that shame kind of thrives in isolation. But when you see your story in someone else and you realize you're not alone, then you have the confidence to act. You actually give yourself more grace and you say, oh, okay, other people are struggling with this. What a great opportunity. So when I've gone to therapy in the past, and I've mentioned this on past shows and I've gone to therapy, one of the most comforting things is when I would describe something I was going through and then the therapist would give a name to it, oh, that's this, that made me feel better. Because that says that other people have gone through it and other people have made it through it. That's the goal of Voices of Aro. For you to hear other parents big or small, I'm not talking about big catastrophic problems all the time.

It could just be, yeah, I have a problem putting my phone down and focusing on my kids. It could be those sorts of things. And when you realize that other people are doing that, but other people have found solutions, other people have found hope, that's where you get the confidence to go do something yourself. So today you're going to meet one of my very favorite people. This is Odette. Odette lives in California. Just full warning, she's a lot cooler than I am, which is not super hard to do, but she is, and she and her husband are raising kids out there. And Odette talks about some of the struggles she was having with technology in her family for her personally. That's what we find with a lot of people. It's not necessarily our kids, it's us modeling a bad relationship with our phones. And so she found Aro and we were so happy that she did, and she talks about that journey of how she got there. She also goes into some of her backstory, which relates to addiction and recovery, and it's a very beautiful story she tells and that she's in the middle of and just like us kind of navigating every day. So we're so glad that Odette joined us. You're going to love this. You're going to be inspired. It's going to give you confidence. For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with one of my favorite people. Odette here on Voices of Aro.

I mean literally one of my favorite, favorite people is here today for voices of r Odette Cressler, welcome to The Aro Podcast.

Odette Cressler (03:07):

Thank you so much for having me, Joey. I'm super excited that we're doing this and just I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me.

Joey Odom (03:14):

Absolutely. And we're doing it again, listener. We've done this once before. We had some audio issues and I said, no, the world needs to hear Odette, so I said, we got to do it again. So I'm excited. Thank you. Odette, will you just kick it off? Will you tell us a little bit about you, your family, your background, just kind of your story? That would be really, really great.

Odette Cressler (03:34):

Of course. My name's Odette. I am originally from Mexico. I have been living in San Diego for almost 13 years, so I moved here in my early twenties. I met a boy, that boy was American, and 13 years later we are here. We live with our family. We live with our two kids and our two dogs. Very blessed and grateful to be in this little corner of California that provides us with great weather. We can be in the mountains in an hour. I can be in Mexico in 20 minutes. Just very grateful and just love this stage of life where it's busy, but it's full of amazing stuff. If you just kind of pause for a second and take it all in. But yeah, that's us in a nutshell.

Joey Odom (04:27):

And tell us how old are your kids A that

Odette Cressler (04:29):

I have a nine-year-old girl and a almost 7-year-old boy.

Joey Odom (04:34):

Wow. I'm interested in something that you've said in our first go round here. You also said it, and I want to dig into it a little bit, said you met a boy. So this is 13 years ago when you will you tell me a little bit of in saying that, is that almost like a, gosh, we were kids then, or what is that? Tell me what you mean when you say your husband, when you met a boy. Tell me what your thoughts are behind that term using it specifically.

Odette Cressler (05:05):

I do feel like we were young and naive in many ways. We all are, and every time you are at a certain age you think you know it all and then you realize that you don't. But there definitely was this naivete about me because I picked up my life. I moved here. I didn't really think much about what I was doing. And the longer I've been in the United States, I've been able to build an amazing life. But also it's been taking a lot of time to integrate a new identity of myself into my life and then look back and say like, whoa, I left a big chunk of myself there and how much do I want to keep and how much do I want to leave? That just takes time to kind of see that bigger picture. But I also feel like I've settled into being truly who I've known.

I've been all along now in my mid thirties. I was young and perhaps I knew a lot about myself then, but I don't think I had the courage to really step in to myself and say, this is me. I was a people pleaser growing up. I wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to be a good daughter and when you want to be, I recently heard a quote, when you want to be good, sometimes you're not free. When you let go of, I need to be perfect, let's just not say good. Sometimes that limits you and that limits your freedom or limits your authenticity. So it's taken me some time to let go of that. And I think our brain isn't really fully developed until our, I think 21, 22, I got here at 22, still fresh. I'm a mom now, which completely creates a new identity as well. So maybe that's why I see it that way. I feel the same, but I also feel very different than when I landed here.

Joey Odom (07:09):

I love that. I love that description of a couple things. You said one of them the courage and it really does take courage to step into who you really are and to your point, whenever you're pursuing that perfection, it gives no room to make errors. And I've found it's only in the errors that I've grown. It's only in the difficulty when I've grown. So you have to, if you're only pursuing perfection, you're limiting how you can grow and your growth potential. Is that a halfway decent summary of how you feel?

Odette Cressler (07:40):

A hundred percent. I had amazing parents and I am here because of them. We went to an all English school that was private and we were privileged enough to go and have these opportunities that not everyone in Mexico has. But it was definitely an upbringing where there was this fear mentality around making mistakes. And to your point, you have to, there is really no choice. You have to fail forward, you have to fall to learn. There is really no shortcut to that and giving yourself that permission slip, I wish I would've gotten it sooner. Like I said, they did great, but I wish I would've just learned earlier that I didn't have to be scared to make mistakes.

Joey Odom (08:23):

Gosh, that's so good. And speaking of mistakes on the topic of technology, I'd like to hear a little bit about maybe a time when you felt like your phone was getting in the way of an important moment or it was just maybe an overall recognition that, hey, something's just off here from who I want to be versus this thing that may be getting in the way of who I'd like to be.

Odette Cressler (08:50):

I think I shared in our dress rehearsal in the first interview that we had, I think a lot of what this question entails does bring me back to recovery for those listeners. I am in recovery, I've been in recovery for a long time. My dad is sober and he's been in recovery for 14 years. So a lot of the way that I perceive and move around world is with that lens and with those tools and something that comes up all the time is this sense of needing to escape life or the sense of needing to comfort yourself, the sense of numbing out the sense of distraction, which we all do. Back to the perfection thing, it is impossible to think that we will be able to stay completely grounded in every moment of our life, but to me, just being in this arena of recovery has allowed me to see technology as something that you can kind of leverage in the right direction or something that can participate as one of these tools that can help you numb out or help you disassociate or help you distract.

So for me, the journey that I've been on for a while because it takes a long time and I don't even think it'll ever end, is I've been moving in the direction of presence and being present and seeing the good that's all around me because it's there, but we forget. And I think it just our era with our phones right now really dovetails into where I'm at personally, and it's very evident to me that it's a distraction that I am spending more time on this device than in real time with people that I care for and that I don't want to look back and be like, shoot. So it has been evident for a while and Aro has been amazing because I am one of those people that I need to not have it close because if it's there, these whole moderation attempts at it, these things that are part of the Apple phone where limit your time, none of it really was working for me. I just needed it to be not somewhere where I could pick it up. So that's been so helpful.

Joey Odom (11:12):

Well, it's funny you say you were one of those people. One of those people is the vast majority of us. I mean, the study is telling us that we can't have it with us. We are going to use it if we have it with us. The only effective way to reduce any kind of phone usage, and again, not all phone usage is bad, I would even say not a lot of phone usage is bad. It's just the moments when we have it right. There's a much different feel when you're looking up the weather when you are in your closet trying to figure out what you're going to wear that day for you. In San Diego it's always 72 degrees, so it doesn't matter 75 degrees, but for those of us who have to check the weather, there's a much different checking the weather at that moment versus a moment when your kid is saying, mommy, watch me, daddy watch me.

And then you're checking the weather. It's a much different thing. So it's those times and it's those spaces. In doing that, I'm curious in the, you said something that I think is really helpful and I think it's through your lens. You said going through recovery it, it's your lens and it gives you the tools that you have. From that, you said it's a lifelong journey. You believe you're in a lifelong journey in recovery. Do you think that helps you view your phone usage in a different way where maybe some people would say, okay, I need a one quick fix this, fix my phone, my phone usage or my phone addiction? Some may say, do you look at it a little bit differently and say like, no, this is just something I'm going to need practical tools for the rest of my life or for the foreseeable future?

Odette Cressler (12:41):

Yeah, I think a big part of this, when you think of someone who's maybe drinking too much or compulsive buyer or whatever the situation is, that has been around for a long time and I feel like with technology and with the phones, we have to also see it as this experiment because we don't know what this was like for the generation before us. We don't know the implications for the people in the future. We are in it, and I think it's harder with the phones because I think it's our responsibility to almost build this manual of when is it appropriate to use your phone. I think recently I saw a post that said five instances during your parenting that you shouldn't have a phone. It's like, I wish everyone saw that post because we don't have those guardrails. It's almost easier to think I can't drink at seven o'clock in the morning.

That seems so obvious. And then if I'm doing it, wow, why am I drinking at seven in the morning? But with the phone, there are no rules because it's never been around this way before. So having those guardrails, we need to make them up and that comes from a place of values, but I think a lot of us are aligned. We want to be present, we want to be good parents, we want to have good memories. So we have to write these manuals. And something very interesting that I've noticed is before the box, even the kids didn't think that I was something outside of my phone. Now they ask me to put away, put it away, mom, can you put it away? We're going to go run a 5K, mom, I just did this with my son. Can you leave the phone? I think before he didn't even think he had that choice because he thought the phone is always with you. So isn't it so crazy? Just there is no framework around this. So I just think we're in it. And when you're in it, you have to be open, you have to be curious, you have to be gentle with yourself because like you said, it's not like a fix. I'm not going to succeed every day. I'm not going to just be done with it and never grab it again. You just have to accept that it's this ongoing experiment,

Joey Odom (14:58):

I think. And I think that's a very easy way to probably fail fast, is to just think that I'm going to get it right the first time. And then when you don't, you get down on yourself and then you just spiral into, well, I'm never going to get it right, so I might as well not try. Right.

Odette Cressler (15:15):

You quit

Joey Odom (15:16):

And you answered a question where I was going to ask what you noticed. And I love that concept of your kids. You've just opened up an entirely new world for them in the present by them recognizing, wait a second, mom doesn't always really have to have her phone with her. But then for them, what it's taught them is when they get a phone someday and they may already, so your 9-year-old probably doesn't quite yet have a phone is my guess. When she does. And when your 7-year-old, when he does get a phone someday, it'll just be normal for them. That will be very normal behavior that you don't have your phone with you all the time. And then what will happen, we hear stories again and again and again of that builds a self-worth inside of them because then they start to expect something different from the people on the other side of the table from them. So I always say this, my daughter, I guarantee you, when she starts dating someday, many, many, many years from now, whenever she starts dating someday, if there's a guy on the other side of the table who's on his phone during dinner, she's going to let him pay the bill. Then she will go ahead and leave and never go on a date with him again because that's just abnormal behavior. So what you're doing, you're normalizing such a good healthy rhythm and balance and expectation for relationship for your kids in the future.

Odette Cressler (16:26):

I agree. I do feel like you said, I don't want to demonize technology. I live far away from my family. I need technology to stay close. I appreciate what technology can do, but I also see what it can do on the negative side, which is this disconnect from each other. And it's so important that we keep that alive. To your point, having those face-to-face conversations, looking at people in the eye when they're talking to you, those life skills, I feel like technology compounded with covid from what I hear. I don't have kids that are much older yet, but kids are just isolating more. I get it. They've gone through a lot and really trying to keep them engaged with the world means they have to disengage from technology. So it's not never use it, it's just have some framework around it and like you said, normalize it.

Normalize. You shouldn't be having a conversation with someone and looking them in the face and they're looking down at their own. That is just not, and maybe for some people that's okay. Back to the value thing that I said. For me, that's where I'm coming from with them. How do you feel when someone talks to you and they don't look at you? It feels like I don't exist. So would you want that? And not just like you can't use your phone. I feel like they need a little bit of more understanding of the context to then be like, okay, it sucks that I can't get a phone yet, but I kind of get it. Yeah,

Joey Odom (17:58):

That's right. Curious, so let's just imagine there's a listener out there who has kids in your same age, a mom who maybe is, gosh, maybe a little freaked out at the idea of technology or doesn't know what to do or maybe already feeling the tension inside their home with technology. What kind of encouragement would you give to a mom who may look like you somewhere else in the US with kids in a similar stage?

Odette Cressler (18:25):

I think it's good to start small and I think consistency is more important than amounts of time. So if you're consistently trying, your kids will consistently try too. And that applies to everything. So I think consistency I think is a superpower. And I think you can apply it here and I think you can if you really want it. So I am assuming if you're listening to this show, there's an interest and if you really want it, you really have to do self-inventory, which is another kind of recovery piece that really has helped me. And you do inventory not to beat yourself up, but to just get honest. It's hard to get honest with yourself and you do inventory. I've said that I don't want to sleep with it, but I also keep saying that it's my alarm. Well, it's finally time that you buy an alarm clock, take that step and it's okay if you're in that step of wanting to get there, but you're not there yet.

It's okay. You're still on the way there. So I think you have to love yourself in this journey because it is hard and you have to meet yourself with care because you can't really bully yourself into making the right call. And we want our kids to be the same way. We want them to have this self-awareness, accountability piece in their lives, but not them being hard on themselves or them having negative self-talk. I think buddying up is great. So if you're listening to this and you have a friend who you think who's also interested, buddy up. I think having buddies when you're trying to do something that seems so against the grain is so helpful because you feel alone sometimes when you're trying to do things opposing what everyone else is doing. But I think this movement is growing. I think people are starting to recognize it and just start small and celebrate the small wins. When I 10 minutes away from it, that counted, that totally counted and that totally mattered because the kids, they don't care if it's 10 minutes, it's still time away from the phone.

Joey Odom (20:41):

Odette, that's so good that start small, celebrate small. Those things will grow over time. Be kind to yourself and to me, as I've gotten to know you, to me, you represent courage to me and you said it just the courage to come to the us the courage, courage to go into recovery, the courage to really do something. I think it takes a lot of courage. You mentioned the self-inventory that takes a lot of courage. Being honest with yourself is a heck of a lot easier, heck of a lot more difficult sometimes than being honest with others. Just that honesty with yourself and what can I be doing? So to me, that's courage. And I hope people listening internalize that are encouraged by your courage, and it means a lot to us at Aro, and I know it means a lot to our listeners. So thank you for your courage and thank you for joining us today.

Odette Cressler (21:31):

Thank you so much. If you have a family, I always like thinking you have the power to just change the trajectory of your family tree by a degree, and that degree sets it on a whole different path. That's so powerful to think about. You don't have to change the whole thing, you can just do a degree of a difference and that will change so much. And to me, that gives me so much fuel. I don't have to change the world, I just have to change a little parts of me, and those will impact in such a way. So feel empowered and yeah, we can do hard things. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

Joey Odom (22:10):

I love that. Odette, thank you. So good to talk to you. Appreciate you joining us.

Odette Cressler (22:14):

Thank you so much, Joey. Have a great rest of your

Joey Odom (22:16):

Day. You too. Hey, thank you for joining us on Voices of Aro. Hey, if you're an Aro member and you would like to be part of Voices of Aro, just shoot us an email stories@goaro.com. If you are not yet an Aro member and you want to learn more, go to our website, goaro.com or follow us on Instagram @goaronow. Lastly, if you would do me an enormous favor, will you please leave us a five star rating wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you so much for joining us on Voices of Aro. We can't wait to see you next time on Voices of Aro or The Aro Podcast. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer, Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.