Five Ways to Keep Social Media from Impacting Your Self-Esteem

person sitting behind computer with head in handsBecause 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Tory L. Eletto, LMFT

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Tolly

    November 15th, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Everything pretty much that I see online, I try to take it with a grain of salt, especially all of those great pics and status updates. How am I supposed to know what is real or not when essentially anything can be fabricated online and made to depict what you want it to look like. The thing is, you have to feel good about yourself to not let some of this stuff get you down like that, and if you don’t just remember that someone out there is simply trying to impress the rest of us.

  • michelle

    November 15th, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    I understand how some could see social media as a way to discourage us from not liking ourselves! But, we all need to realize other people’s happiness shouldn’t be second guessed because we lack something in our own life!

  • matthew

    November 16th, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Do I really care that much about all of that? Not really.

  • Charlotte

    November 16th, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I will admit that there are times that I go online and start feeling bad about myself and my life because I see all these other posts and stuff from other people and I start to wonder what I am doing wrong, why I’m not getting ahead in life the way that tey are. But then I take a minute to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful and thankful for and it makes me remember that the grass always seems to be greener on the other side but in the end that’s usually not the real case. I want to be open and honest about my life but not to the point to where it makes others feel bad about their own and I think that sometimes these people are just putting all of that out there just to have someone pay attention to them and to make them think that they are better off than what they actually are.

  • Susan

    November 17th, 2013 at 5:54 AM

    Charlotte I totally agree. This was me last night I need advise. Addicted 29 year-old daughter. My 6 year-old grandson and her live with us. She has lost custody of him, been in and out of rehab and still nothing. Any suggestions? I would throw her out, but there is no place for her to go. Need a little help people. I am losing it.

  • Charlotte

    November 19th, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Wow Susan that is such a hard situation to be in. I know that you want your daughter and grandson to have a relationship but it is no good for him to see her addicted and then to have this confusion about living together but you are acting more like the mom and not her.
    Rehab isn’t an option for her, or is it that she just doesn’t want to go and be a part of that? Until she is ready I guess you can’t force her but it would probably be the right move for her.

  • Natalie

    November 21st, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    I suppose that there are times when I have actually just had to take a break from it all because you get kind of sick of seeing all of the stuff that you know half of which is BS. But when you are feeling bad already we all have a habit of feeding into it, wondering why their life is so great and ours my suck at the moment. So separate yourself from it for a little while.

  • Cassie

    July 29th, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    I agree with everything in this. The online world can take away the beautiful moments you can only achieve by being in the moment. Things such as stopping fun to take a picture or video can ruin moments. One thing that always bothers me is when people record whole concerts. Instead of dancing and enjoying the music, they’re watching it from a little screen, when there is a huge concert going on in front of their eyes. I feel like social media should be a past time, something that should be fun to do once in a while, not something you want to take over your life.

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