“The email on your account was changed. If you didn’t change your email address, you can secure your account here.”
I saw this email from Instagram and immediately had a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I clicked the link, but it was too late.
My Instagram account was hacked, and I lost access to everything.
I have heard stories about people getting hacked and never paused to think that it could happen to me.
Until it did.
I tried to contact Instagram immediately, but of course, it was impossible to find any direct communication.
I noticed myself getting frustrated and impatient. Why can’t you ever reach customer service when you need them?
Upset and annoyed. Why am I being targeted? What did I ever do to you? I’m just here, minding my own business. Seriously.
Worried and lost. What do I do now? All the content I’ve been creating and sharing. Gone.
Ashamed and embarrassed. I can’t believe this happened to me. Do I really have to share that this happened? What are people going to think?
Scared and helpless. What else can I do? Nobody can help me. This sucks. I hate this.
The rollercoaster of emotions. And I didn’t even do anything!
And then I took a breath. Did some self-coaching.
I reminded myself to look at the bigger picture.
That I was safe and well. That I am not my thoughts. That I can be responsible, and this was happening for a reason.
And that everything will be just fine.
So while I still have not heard back from Instagram after a few days, I have been able to stay calm in the midst of everything.
I took time to reflect and wanted to share my learnings so that you don’t ever have to go through a hacking experience to learn these lessons.
Turn on two-factor authentication.
I admit I did not have this activated on social media, and this was the first thing I did after losing access. I used to roll my eyes when I had to do this for work and never thought it would be relevant in my personal life.
But if you think about it, isn’t your personal life even more important to protect?
Whether it’s your social media, financial institutions, credit card accounts, etc., I highly recommend you do this and err on the side of caution.
Attachment creates suffering.
As an introverted physician turned entrepreneur, bestselling author, speaker, and life coach, it took me a while in the beginning to get over the fact that I had to be visible and share content on social media regularly so I could truly be of service.
Needless to say, I have poured hundreds of hours into creating content, and there was a panic that set in when I realized I might never have access to my intellectual property again.
But, I quickly remembered that all the content came from me and my brain.
Meaning I could always access, recreate, and reinvent it so that it was not only reproduced but it could be even better.
And I reminded myself that only my attachment to the account was contributing to my own suffering.
The moment I chose to detach and trusted that I would be fine, I felt relief immediately.
People talk about the importance of diversification in your investments and never keeping all your eggs in one basket, which is applicable in this instance.
Instagram is one of several social media platforms I use in addition to my website and list of email subscribers to connect directly.
Remember, social media platforms do go offline from time to time, and it’s crucial to maintain multiple avenues of communication (preferably ones that you own directly, e.g., your own website and email list.)
Control is an illusion.
We often seek control to attain a false sense of security in times of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Remember all the toilet paper hoarding at the start of COVID?
In this case, I wanted to get my account back. I wanted the hacker to stop impersonating me.
While I read countless articles in my efforts to contact Instagram and looked for ways to recover my account, I had to accept that I had no control over the situation.
What happened happened. This is my current reality.
My unsuccessful efforts to gain control were actually robbing me of my inner peace. What a reminder that we often think we have control over something when we really don’t.
Nothing is perfect.
Having been a perfectionist for most of my life, I was terrified of making mistakes, failing, and being judged.
As an entrepreneur, I have learned to embrace imperfection to continually progress.
And now, my beautifully curated Instagram account has apparently (per friends’ reports since the hacker changed the username and made it private) turned into a breeding ground for a crypto-mining scam.
Life is not perfect, and it’s not meant to be.
I remind myself that this is all happening for me, not to me, and that how I choose to respond at this moment is more important than ever.
As the Dalai Lama said, “Do not let the behavior of others disturb your inner peace.”
So there you have it. I never thought social media hacking would offer such important reminders and lessons, but here we are.
By the way, I am the first to admit that it’s easy to gloss over phrases and lessons because you’ve heard them a million times before, and we think we know.
But in reality, we merely understand, but do not know. Because if we really knew, then there wouldn’t be the need for the lessons to appear.
So while I would never have wished for this to happen, I am grateful to learn and for this opportunity to “know.”
Have you experienced hacking before? How did you respond? What did you learn from it?
Image credit: Shutterstock.com