Because technology looms around us, it has become a central part of how we communicate with friends, family, and even strangers. Communication goes beyond verbal or written messages; it extends to the way we portray our lives through social media. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and whatever other social media tools you use all have the ability to portray the pieces of your life that you choose to be public. This social media game has left many of us wondering how we add up to the next person, which in turn can cause a negative impact on our self-esteem. It has also allowed us to focus too much on a fake world or version of ourselves, while losing the momentum to make real changes and growth.
This phenomenon is rapidly increasing. Not only do we feed into people’s images of themselves on social media, but we also feed into our own. How many times have you seen someone stop an incredible moment to snap a picture? Yes, we have all done it. After a few filters and uploads it seems to make us think we are capturing the moment, but by doing so we are frequently losing the real moments. It is incredibly important that we do not lose the ability to focus on the life we are living versus the life we have on display through social media.
We frequently read status updates about how amazing someone’s partner is, when the truth is they often may be apart and fighting. We see pictures that are airbrushed and filtered, while the subjects seem to look run-down in person. We see the singles out and about, partying and having fun, but we don’t process how it actually feels behind the scenes, walking in to an empty home. We view wedding pictures and glorify relationships, but have no idea how much work it takes to make the relationship function. We envy pregnancy photos but have no clue of the struggle the couple may have gone through just to get pregnant. We are all viewing highlight reels of people’s lives, and it’s very easy to get sucked into glorifying them all while putting ourselves down.
Want to try to break this cycle? I’ve come up with five definitive ways you can stop comparing yourself to others and start embracing your life:
- Understand the reality of other people’s lives. It is not to bash others; it is to understand that we all struggle, we all have ugly days, and we all have our issues. There is no perfect relationship, life path, career, or body, because we all have our own personal challenges. Maybe they are not the same, but they do exist, so remind yourself that the end of the day the only thing we all have in common with each other is struggle.
- Stop wasting your energy and time on comparison. If you took all the time that you use to scroll through your ex’s wedding photos, cried, and talked bad about him or her, and instead put that toward working on what is holding you back from moving forward, you could be a much happier person. If you start to use your time constructively to work on yourself, your goals, and your relationships, chances are you will not even have the time to waste on the glorification of others’ lives.
- Stop bending the truth to others. What is the point of telling everyone your relationship is perfect? I am not saying you have to go chatting about everything that is wrong in your relationship, but there is an element of truth and realness that allows you to be vulnerable and truly connect, whether it is with yourself, your partner, or your friends. If you are pretending you live in fantasy land, I would imagine that the stress of keeping up that image is exhausting. Relax, let go, and be OK with vulnerable.
- Embrace your imperfections. This goes beyond what you are telling others; this is how you are viewing your own life. If you are incredibly hard on yourself, you have to learn to be a better friend to YOU. If you are ignoring the challenges in your life, they will tend to pop up in other unhealthy ways. So face them. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of it, and don’t be afraid to own it and work on it.
- Be happy with imperfection. If you were truly perfect, and your relationship was perfect, and your job was perfect, what would be the point of progressing forward in any way? We grow and learn through struggle and life lessons. Relationship challenges are incredible mirrors to our own personal struggles, and can allow us to truly feel whole if we embrace it. The way we handle failure is a fabulous character trait that we all need to work on. Just because life isn’t perfect does not mean you can’t enjoy it and be happy. The only way to truly value your strengths is to be vulnerable and own your weaknesses, as one day that in itself may become your strength.
The next time you find yourself losing a moment to be on your phone, or feeding into someone’s life via Facebook, take a step back. Use these five steps, and they will allow you to learn how to balance this new world.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT, therapist in Larchmont, New York
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