Social media has forever changed the way we interact with others, making it easy to stay connected. But it’s not always good for us.
In some ways social media is great.
It allows us to stay connected to friends and family all over the world. But we all know there is a dark side too, one that shows up for every mom I work with, most of the women I know and quite a few men too. I think of it as the comparison spiral. Here’s how it works.
Imagine you are a brand new mom just struggling to get through the day.
If you managed to take a shower and keep everyone alive that’s a major victory. You’ve been puked on, pooped on and are covered in something sticky, and the dog is eating the remains of a half eaten frozen pizza off of the table. YOU. ARE. EXHAUSTED.
Finally, your toddler is occupied with his mega blocks for 2 seconds and the baby is sleeping and you decide to jump on Facebook to see what’s up. To feel some connection to the outside world. To feel like part of society for a minute. And who pops up but that person who always looks perfect and makes it all look easy. You immediately think “why am I the only one struggling? Obviously this is so easy for everyone else. What is wrong with me?”
You don’t have to go down this hole.
Here are some ways you can keep the connection without the spiral.
1) Unfollow people who trigger negative thoughts about yourself.
For whatever reason. If they are judgmental or a little braggy, or their posts and images just happen to trigger your negative self-talk, just unfollow them! Remember that your social media feeds are for you- they should be uplifting and keep you in contact with people you really care about, not tear you down. Keep in mind that unfollowing is not the same as unfriending on Facebook, they just won’t show up in your feed and they won’t have any idea.
1) Take a social media fast.
Take a break! You may find that once you break the habit of checking, it’s easier to stay off. A weekend is a great place to start. If you have the urge to reach for your phone, notice what it feels like in your body. Smart phones and other devices are made to be addictive; every time you get a notification or alert it sends a little jolt of dopamine to your brain. Learn more. So if you are a frequent checker you might feel a little twitchy! It will be OK. This is a good thing to notice and be aware of. And even more reason to take a break.
2) Keep things in perspective
Remember that you are only seeing the highlight reel. Shiny, happy social media posts only show one moment in time and not all of the other moments leading up to it. Anyone who has ever been in a wedding knows the anxiety, money, tears and months (or years!) of preparation that can go into that one perfect picture. And that awesome action shot from Timmy’s soccer game? Maybe it was taken after a long season of injury and struggle. The point is, don’t make assumptions about people’s lives based on one post. We all know that we are a lot more that meets the eye on social media
3) Remember that the messy parts make life interesting.
The bloopers reel, with all of the struggles and mishaps is what makes our lives full and rich and complicated and messy. So the next time you feel like someone else has it better, just remember that they are also having tough and messy moments. We are all just trying to get through life the best we can. And if occasionally they make it look easy? Good for them!
4) Ask yourself: is there anything you can learn from this person?
Maybe they are happy because they are learning something new, or they made time for something they enjoy, or they are spending time with people they love. If you are feeling insecure, stop and ask yourself “is this bothering me because there is something I am missing in my own life?” If so, rather than wasting another precious minute feeling bad about yourself, think about how you can do that thing!
5) Send some love their way.
If someone triggers your insecurities, jealousy or comparison, take a moment to mentally send them some positive thoughts. Say a quick prayer or kind thought towards the person and their family, and be grateful that she shared this happy moment that just popped up on your feed. If you can’t think of anything, try “may you be happy and well”.
6) Make a gratitude list.
Right now, think of 5 things you are grateful for in your own life. Every problem has a positive side. You may have issues with your house because you have a house. You have messy kids because you have kids. Think of 5 things in your life, at this moment, that you don’t want to take for granted.
I hope this helps you stop the comparison spiral and find appreciation for your own life with ALL of its moments. Even the ones that never make it to your Facebook page.