We’ve discussed in several blogs how in today’s world of social media, it’s important to realize we are only seeing other people’s “highlight reels”. When we forget this, we find ourselves, consciously or subconsciously, comparing ourselves to others. We try to portray ourselves as happy and successful at all times.
Feelings of inadequacy can result from intaking these “highlight reels”. We may become flooded with self doubt, begin to criticize our appearance, feel insecure about our income, or over analyze our relationships. Let’s call this the “Social Media Should Syndrome”. When we start to become obsessed with what we should look like, how much money we should make, or what our relationships should be like, we must reframe our thinking to avoid getting wrapped up in this false world of idealized life.
First, realize that it is okay to feel this way – we’re human. Of course from time to time we’re going wish we had other people bodies, houses, cars, weddings, families etc. – it’s natural to compare ourselves to other people, but how we respond to our own thoughts is what will determine our overall happiness.
Reframe Your Thoughts
- To cope with comparison that may lead to feelings of inadequacy, reframe your thinking. Remind yourself that your perception of this other person does not tell their whole story, nor does it say anything about you.
- For example, if you see a picture of a friend’s wedding, you may think they look like the happiest couple in the world surrounded by a beautiful and loving group of friends and family. This is simply one photograph, you have no idea what the people in the photograph are dealing with. In no way does the photograph diminish your relationship to your spouse, family or friends. If you see the photo and feel they are better than you in any way, realize that is your own self-made perception. You’ve subconsciously made the choice to see the photo and make judgements and comparisons about your own life. When you reframe how you think, you’ll realize that only you have power over how social media makes you feel.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
After becoming aware that you create your own response and perception to social media, give yourself permission to feel vulnerable. If you see something online that brings up feelings of sadness, frustration, disappointment or jealousy, give yourself permission to feel those feelings. Remember it is okay to not be okay. We all have bad days; negative emotions are part of being human. When we try to repress or ignore negative emotions, we often end up feeling worse.
Next, analyze the emotions you had in response to what you saw. If you can understand where your emotions are stemming from, you can then use them to become a better you.
Ask yourself what your negative emotions mean.
- Why do you think your feeling this what?
- What can you do about it now?
- For example – you’re feeling frustrated and disappointed about your appearance. You’re feeling stuck. You feel like you’ve let yourself go. As a result, you feel disappointed and like you need a change.
These negative emotions are telling you something. They’re trying to motivate and propel you to do something about it. Maybe you’ll start a meal plan or implement daily exercise as a result. You start taking initiative for your own life and you start feeling better about what you’re doing.
Overall, realize that social media is a skewed portrayal of everyone else’s lives – everyone posts their best moments- it doesn’t make sense to compare yourself to other people. Everyone is going through something regardless of if they show it online. Picture it this way, if your friend is constantly posting pictures of her baby laughing, it doesn’t mean the baby doesn’t cry… your friend is simply posting the good moments. Don’t fall victim to the social media should syndrome – focus on improving yourself and bettering who you are.
And, if you do experience negative emotions from the should syndrome, use them to benefit you! Think about where they are stemming from and what you can do and what actions you can take to turn your negative emotions into positives!