“I am intentional about net algorithms that don’t have a pulse, I don’t allow them to dictate my feelings and thoughts.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Romal Tune, speaker and Author of “Love Is an Inside Job.” With a compelling style that has impressed international audiences, Romal moves people to action, compassion, and systemic change, impacting the effectiveness of individuals, leaders, executives, and their teams.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?

I grew up as an inner-city kid from the San Francisco Bay Area. My mom battled depression as well as drug and alcohol addiction. I remember we moved a lot when I was growing up. I went to a different school every year until the tenth grade before I finally went to live with my dad in New Jersey.

After high school, I served in the United States Army during The Gulf War Desert Storm. When I returned, I attended Howard University and graduated with Honors receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At the time I was thought I would eventually go to medical school, but there was another plan for my life. After graduating I began working as a Clinical Research Associate and changed course to attend Duke University School of Religious Studies instead of medical school. Once I completed my graduate studies, I started a consulting company focused on helping companies and non-profits build strategic partnerships to solve social problems around poverty, education, youth violence prevention, healthcare, and other concerns both nationally and internationally. I have worked with some the most influential business and political leaders in the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

My career is constantly evolving in new and exciting directions. Perhaps the most interesting story happened at the beginning of my career. I was married, and my wife was pregnant. We were recent graduates and we both quit our jobs so that I could begin graduate school at Duke. I had no idea how we were going to afford life in graduate school and a child. One day while at church I prayed asking God to show me what to do. I saw the vision of a guy I knew from church. We were casual acquaintances, not friends. I felt compelled to ask him for help but at the same time I was ashamed, and my pride would not let me do it. Several weeks went by and I forgot all about the vision because I had to focus on giving my very first main stage talk and I knew there would be over a thousand people in the room. I had never spoke from a stage before that night. When the day came for me to deliver that talk, it was a great success and it was well received. I spoke about fighting for your dreams and trusting your abilities.

However, a funny thing happened. A week after my talk, I received a call from the guy I saw in the vision! He was there the night I gave my first talk and he asked if I would come to his home for a conversation with he and his wife and of course I agreed. I had no idea what they wanted. When I arrived, we sat at their dining room table and they asked me about my plans to attend Duke. As the conversation went on he asked how I planned to pay for school and if I needed any help. I was shocked and a bit uncomfortable. My pride was trying to get in the way of what was meant to happen. I sighed and then proceeded to tell him that I did not know how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to follow the calling of my heart and passion. After listening to me he looked at his wife, she smiled, and then he pulled out an envelope and passed it to me. I’ll never forget what happened next. He said that he and his wife were there for my first talk and they believed that I was destined to do something special in the world that would help a lot of people. He told me that they wanted to help in any way they could while I was in school. In the envelope was ten thousand dollars. He said that if I ever needed anything while in school to just call and ask.

I learned a lot from that experience. Deep down, when you know you’re doing the right thing, trust the calling of your soul and align it with passion and purpose, you don’t have to know how it is going to happen. God, or as some would say, the universe, really does begin to conspire in your favor. I’ve seen it happen in my life on more than one occasion. That experience over twenty years ago was just the beginning of what continues to be an amazing journey.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

As a matter of fact, I am! My latest book just came out a few months ago. It’s called “Love Is An Inside Job: Getting Vulnerable With God.” It’s about combining faith and counseling to overcome life-limiting beliefs caused by childhood trauma and plaguing memories. For many people they don’t realize it, but they are living in a story that is not theirs. They have built lives based on who others told them they could become in life and accepted those stories as true without ever questioning them. As a result, they become characters trapped in a play that is being orchestrated by their parents and other people. In “Love Is An Inside Job” I share real life stories that help people start playing the lead in their lives and equip them to write their own script for a journey of thriving, meaning, and significance. Sometimes I jokingly tell people that if they are familiar with Brené Brown, I am more like “Brother Brown” using my own story as a case study in healing and living an amazing life free from shame and life limiting beliefs.

Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?

Great question. Depending on the types of content a person engages it can cause fatigue, depression, anger, and anxiety. For some, the time they spend in front of a screen impacts their self-worth in negative ways. All of which has a negative impact on the body. Looking at a screen that long can also have an impact on your vision. Lying in bed at night and using your phone to surf the Internet or look at social media doesn’t allow the brain to slow down and unplug so that you can rest.

I do my best to control my screen time and the kinds of content I let into my mind and influence my thoughts. The Internet can be an amazing tool for good and it can also be very toxic at times. I don’t visit a lot of news sites because often they are negative. I stay informed about what’s happening in the world but after I receive information I make sure I don’t allow myself to be drawn into the negative comments and attacks that take it further. I do the same with social media. I’ve set up filters on my social media platforms so that I limit as much as possible the negative hurtful content that shows up in feeds. I follow pages and people who write, share videos and talk about mindfulness. Some of these platforms send me emails reminding me to meditate, positive messages that talk about gratitude, and stories amplifying the good that is happening in the world and people behind them. Honestly, there are people I had to make the decision to unfollow because their posts were consistently negative and showing up in my news feeds. It’s not a judgment but more a decision and responsibility I have to treat myself well and guard my thoughts from negativity. I also, take breaks from the Internet to read. Yes, I actually like to hold a book and turn pages! I used to have a tendency to get on social media when I was lonely and engage people through their posts but now I step away from the computer during those times and extend invitations to friends for dinner, lunch or just to hangout. Sometimes we forget how much human connection and interaction makes us come alive and even sparks creativity. In short, I am intentional about net algorithms that don’t have a pulse, I don’t allow them to dictate my feelings and thoughts.

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

  1. Use the Internet. Don’t let the Internet use you. Everything begins with who you truly desire to be in the world.
  2. Seek others who are like-minded and can uplift and inspire your creativity.
  3. Don’t use social media as a comparison, a lot of it is not authentic.
  4. Limit your time using technology. The average person spends over 90 minutes a day on their phone and a minimum of 1 hour and 40 minutes on their social media, that is over 20 days a year that a person stares at their phone.
  5. Re-learn to connect! Physical connection is vital to your creativity and your well- being, we must interact with each other, in person.

51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?

Be careful when you offer up your phone number of websites. Understand how it will be used. Put yourself on do not call lists. There are apps that allow you to block certain types of calls. If you find yourself getting more spam calls than usual, contact your phone provider for assistance in making your number private.

Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?

It’s important to detach who you are from what you do. Many people, especially the younger generation are defining who they are by their sense of self through social media. These are platforms without a pulse. Use the internet don’t let the internet use you. Don’t allow your sense of self-worth and value to be determined by something outside of yourself. You get to determine how you feel about you and you owe it yourself to be good to yourself. Be intentional about what you’re feeding your mind and why. A while back I was stressed and anxious about my life. I was doing something a lot of people do. I was comparing where I am now with my life and career to where I thought I should be by now. I looked at what some of my friends and colleagues were doing and got caught up in the toxic thoughts of comparing and competing. So, I called my therapist and told him how I was feeling, and he said two things that I always keep in the back of my mind. Where you are, is not who you are. Remember who you are. You are a child of the Divine. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are gifted and of great value to the world and those whose lives you touch. That’s who you are and that does not change no matter where you are in life. Remember who you are and then align where you are with who you are through your actions and thoughts. He said your feelings serve your thoughts and your thoughts serve you. You get to determine your thoughts about yourself and how you interpret life around you. He was right about all of it. All too often we surrender our power to determine our own feelings to things on the Internet and social media, but we have to be careful or perhaps mindful, that we do not allow ourselves to concede that power to anything that is outside of ourselves.

I would encourage young people to put away their phones and just spend
time hanging out and interacting with people. All of us need human
connection and nothing replaces real interaction. Just visit a hospital and ask
people what’s more important, counting likes and clicks on social media or
having someone actually come to see you. Life can hit you hard sometimes
and that’s when you appreciate the value of real friendships.
I think there are people who consider themselves to be introverts but
they’re not, they just spend so much time on their phones using social media
and the internet that they have not learned how to be comfortable in
face-to-face conversation. Human interaction cultivates your personality (a
part of who you are) but the internet often entices you to present a persona
(something you pretend to be). There’s a difference between being what I call
Facebook happy and genuine happiness that isn’t a social media show.

When it comes to alerts and distractions, I think it’s a good idea to remove alerts from your phone, that way you’re not compelled to look at it every time it pings. My fiancé owns a business and had her phone set up to alert her when she received a text message. I encouraged her to turn off that feature. She was concerned that she would miss something important but rarely was the information important and would only stress her more. I recommended that she tell leaders on her team to call her if something turned out to be important and if it didn’t rise to the level of needing her attention then they should solve the issue themselves. She turned off the alert feature and on more than one occasion she has thanked me for encouraging her to do so. It has also helped her lead differently, trust her team, and they’ve had to step up and handle things that do not require her attention. I also think that it’s important for people to start asking “why am I so easily distracted? Is there anything I am trying to avoid by constantly surfing the net and social media looking for a distraction? How might I better use my time in ways that add value to my life and others? Think about who you truly desire to be in the world and ask yourself if the ways in which you allow yourself to be interrupted constantly are serving you well. If not, and the answer is likely they are not, then learn to be intentional about how you use your time in ways that serve you well and add value to your life. Ask yourself, “What’s the value of this content to my wellbeing, my thoughts or the people and the things I truly care about? What can I do with the content that adds value?

80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?

Two people have influenced my morning ritual, Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. I listened to a podcast once where Oprah said she starts her day by expressing gratitude and whispering thank you before she gets out of bed. I do that daily now. I heard Arianna talk about not touching her phone first thing in the morning and instead setting her intentions and meditating to begin her day. I have heard numerous leaders talk about starting their day this way. I thought to myself if it works for all of them then maybe there is something to it. So, I tried it.

Before starting these practices, I used to have mornings where I would wake up anxious for no good reason at all. I would pick up my phone immediately and start looking at emails or social media. My phone was dictating my behavior. I had not set my intentions nor expressed gratitude for anything. Why wouldn’t I be anxious? For me, waking up and grabbing my phone first thing in the morning was a form of idol worship, in that I gave more attention to my phone than I did to myself or spiritual wellbeing. I realized that I was putting my phone before the beliefs that I claimed guided my life. The moment you pick up your phone in the morning you are connecting yourself to things outside of you to draw information and energy from them. You owe it to yourself to be good to yourself. In a twenty-four-hour day you will likely be offering up your time to others in one way or another. For at least eight hours of the day you are giving your time to work, some to other activities and people, then what’s left to sleep before you start all over again the next day. Why not meditate for twenty minutes, or read something that will help you grow, or take time to express gratitude. I think you owe it to yourself to give yourself at least twenty minutes every morning before everything else starts demanding YOUR TIME. It’s your time and your day; you should be intentional about how you use it. Use it wisely.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

My life lesson quote is also a mantra for me at times and that is “you are already enough, and you don’t have to prove it”! This is my truth and I believe that all you must do is surrender to accepting the amazing person you already are and live into it daily.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be? I believe in the power of story. All of us are living into a story we’ve accepted as true about ourselves and other people. The stories we accept and live into are the sources of both the goodness and hatred we see in the world. If I could start a movement, it would be a “healing our stories” movement. When people heal their own stories, they become vessels of healing in the lives of others. This is how we turn wounds into scars which is the evidence of healing.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

People can find and follow me on Instagram (@romaltune), Twitter (@romaltune) and Facebook (@tuneunscripted) or visit my website RomalTune.com.

Thank you for this interview, Dr. Fisher. It was very insightful!

This interview is part of an interview series by Dan Pannasch, Product Manager of RoboKiller, the robocall blocking app that gets even with spammers. You can check it out at robokiller.com.

Originally published at medium.com