Enjoy social media without ruining your self-esteem
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Until recently I’ve kept a safe distance. However, the emerging of my blog requires that I engage it more than what I am comfortable with. In recent weeks I’ve been reminded of its force for good while also made painfully aware of it’s force for evil if not handled with care. I love how it enables the sharing of ideas and stories that inspire and connect but hate how it can do major damage to a person’s self esteem. Something I am not immune to.
Most of us have experienced a variation of this to some degree. It goes something like this. You’re at home, bored and mindlessly scrolling until something catches your eye. You stop to watch a video of a father struggling to do his daughter’s hair because she keeps turning around to kiss him. You think, how sweet and “like” it. It connects you to the love between a parent and child. You may even feel inclined to call your father or embrace your own child. But soon after you continue to scroll through an abundance of images or videos showcasing the perfect meal, the perfect outfit, the perfect room décor and all while looking like a Kardashian. You look down at the take-out your eating and think to yourself, I really gotta get my shit together. I’m slacking. Next thing you know there is a fire burning beneath you to be more fashionable, cook more [and enjoy it!], “style” not just set the table, craft more and refurbish furniture in your “spare time”, AND be more fit! Or, instead you lather on the shame and guilt so thick solidifying the fact you aren’t doing or going anywhere!
It happens just like that! One moment you’re enjoying the idea that we are all connected-ONE LOVE- [singing kumbaya] and then BAM! You’re thinking about how you aren’t good enough. It’s easy to lose touch with what truly matters if you aren’t careful about how you filter and absorb information. So this got me thinking: how can you get inspired and stay connected on social media without it screwing with your self-esteem? Here’s what I came up with.
Stop “SHOULD-ING” all over yourself!
I’ve pretty much deleted “should” from my vocabulary because it only serves to produce feelings of guilt and shame. It’s easy to use this word when scrolling through images and videos blasting the message #noexcuses. But saying to yourself, “I should have done that” basically invites the response, “Yes, but you didn’t. LOSER” [Not exactly my idea of motivation]. And then there’s thinking I should do that, which suggests a lack of intent. Talk about a self-esteem deflator. My favorite word to replace it with is “prefer”. And if you need motivation consider replacing it with “will” for that added level of commitment needed to lean into action. Its simple semantics but a much kinder way of speaking to yourself. Don’t scroll without it!
This is hard. And something I do [especially when feeling vulnerable], which makes me doubt myself and take me away from what I’m trying to accomplish. Comparison is another self-esteem deflator. It doesn’t just deflate it; it crushes it! Comparison works to fill up, but also drain our self-esteem tank. When my son was a newborn [and I was desperate for sleep and control] I compared my experience to what other mothers were publically sharing. If I thought I wasn’t measuring up, I assumed I was doing something wrong. Comparison leads to overthinking. And assuming there is a right way to do something and that just isn’t the case. Consider limiting who and what you follow, and how much you read [I support ignorance in certain incidences]. I’ve learned the less I read, the less I compare and the more I rely on instinct and feel confident. Being more selective of who and what you follow is also a great way to minimize information overload. You know what this looks like…3 hours later in search for a rug, no decision but a bazillion more options. This FOBO (fear of better options) does not fuel the tank. It makes you feel crazy and unsure [its just a rug!]. When comparison threatens to drain your tank, practice gratitude and identify your strengths and accomplishments. And, remember to pull back the focus lens for a larger picture. You don’t know what happens before or after a picture or post is shared. You know life is more complex than a snap shot. Lastly, don’t be afraid to unfollow or hide if necessary. This should be enjoyable not torturous.
Beware of trends
With social media came “trending” topics and popular interests. I appreciate creativity and have fantasized about what it would be like being styled from head to toe and to live in spaces decorated like the ones I follow on instagram [you know like the stars]. It’s easy to get swept away by our desires only to find out how difficult it is to keep up [and how empty we feel]. You may even find that the trends you follow don’t fit your lifestyle or don’t reflect you as an individual. A friend of mine came to this realization while using social media for inspiration while decorating her new home. One day while visiting her she jokingly made comments about the desk she was “half done” refurbishing [for several weeks now]. She explained that lack of time and difficulty making creative decisions [FOBO] left her feeling inadequate. It wasn’t until she relieved herself of the pressure to fit a particular trend that she was able to discover that her warmth and value of family IS her home decor. It is important to remember that while you can appreciate many different hobbies and interests, not all will really float your boat, or fit into your current life [and that’s okay]. Choose wisely and do what works best for you. Don’t get caught up in trends because you may get lost!
Let’s face it. Social media is a part of our culture and there is no denying its influence in our daily lives. This is why it’s important to handle it with care. So the next time you decide to go scrolling, remember to take it easy on yourself. You’re doing great! Give yourself permission to slack off on things you can afford to, and let it go. By de-cluttering your mind in the social media world you make room for clarity on what truly inspires and sparks passion in your life. So stop dogging yourself and go get em’ tiger!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media and how you think it connects AND disconnects people. How do you enjoy it without letting it effect how you see or feel about yourself?