Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @jazzma_kendrick
Isn’t it fascinating that social media came and provided so much access, supposedly connected us, but boy did it also bring a never-ending wave of anxiety and introduced the concept of FOMO across every single area of our lives? We’re all incredibly aware of what we share, from a personal to professional perspective and all in between. There’s this unspoken ‘pressure’ to determine who you are as a person by what you post. How do you want to be viewed? What is the image or the perception you want people to have of you? The thing is, if we have a page, whether we’re using it just as a hobby or as a business tool, we all do this on different levels.
And of course, on the reverse of what we put out, is what we get back. The same way we’re picking and choosing what we share, so is everyone else. We’re all doing this, we’re all putting out and receiving a curated version of how we all want to be perceived and from time to time we all need to be reminded that real life is not happening inside our phones. And unfortunately, this curation creates different lifestyle narratives that trigger some people into a comparison spiral. Comparing their lives, their relationships, their circles, their ambitions, their business, their goals, you name it. Some studies show that 10% of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind, how insane is that? For some, it might be that you were having a really hard time and something that you saw triggered you or somehow, you’ve created this habit of taking inventory of your life based on other people’s lives. The point is, social media has a way of triggering us through what we consume, where we are in life and mostly our own insecurities.
And the thing with comparison is that when it affects us not so positively it directly impacts our self-esteem, how we see ourselves and where we are stand. The big issue with comparing your journey, your body, your holiday, your skin, your relationship with anyone else, is that no one else is you, no one else has walked in your shoes. You’re setting yourself up for immediate disaster that is not even real, not even possible.
So, pay attention, make sure you catch yourself if or when that happens, revert back to content that inspires and connects with you. I know this is easier said than done and like every adjustment to how you operate it will take time but stick to it. Create systems and tools that enable you to get back to this mindset. A few ideas:
FILTER YOUR FEED
The thing is, if a specific person, page or subject are triggering you, just remove it from your world. You can always go back to following them and consuming their content but until you can’t truly and fully enjoy whatever it is you’re seeing without feeling a sense of lack, anxiety or failure: don’t consume, don’t watch, don’t read.
YOU VS YOU MINDSET
You have to get to a point where you choose not to go there, you do this by being aware and consciously stopping yourself until you no longer have to think about it. Try and understand what’s triggering you? Is it specific to a subject, a person, an activity? The quicker you understand what’s triggering you, the quicker you can go and do the work. You can figure out why you’re being triggered and you can work through it.
In this process you’ll come back to yourself, you’ll implement the you vs you mindset. Where are you now and where do you want to be in the future? Where have you been and how far have you come? Stay there, take inventory, write it down, be kind and don’t underplay or undermine your journey based on others (who, are not living your life, who are not you).
A reminder: social media is not real life, so why are we spending so much time on it? Are we ever going to be able to answer that question? I’m not sure. So, setting boundaries is crucial for your wellbeing and to actually live life, real life, you know, outside our phones. Not opening your phone until a specific time in the morning, stop touching your phone at a specific time in the evening, not bringing the phone to your bedroom, setting your phone to a few hours of social media a day only, these are all guidelines you can implement in a way that fits your lifestyle and your needs.
And don’t forget, be kind, if some days you don’t stick to it, keep trying, keep putting the effort in.
And most of all, only compare yourself to yourself.