Photo taken by Kevyn Ness (@kvyness)
Let's get real with ourselves, we all have used social media in at least one unhealthy way. We may think that the small, more negative things that we see or do in the media are harmless, but from experience as well as listening to others’, they are. I don't believe that all of us are fully aware of how damaging social media can be to our mental and spiritual health... I say that only because when I first started my account, I personally was heavily influenced by the instagram models and influencers that I decided to follow. Mindlessly, I began to want to be them and told myself that if I don't achieve what they have, then I will be a loser. At the time I was desperate to be liked and subconsciously wanted the life they did... they had all the likes, the followers, they were pretty, flaunted their bodies, had a seemingly perfect life... that's what I 'wanted' too. Until one day I just kind of woke up and realized that being an Instagram model wasn't my calling/ purpose. I began to grow confidence in the fact that I had so much more to me than just my body or how I looked on the outside. I knew that within, I had a story and a heart to help people on deep levels, even deeper than physical fitness goes, but, in order to help people, I knew that I needed to get my mind right...
Tonight I reflected on all the ways I used to (and still catch myself doing from time to time) use social media unhealthily as well as solutions/ different mindsets to begin using it in a healthy way.
If you feel worse about exiting the app than you did when entering it, something is wrong...
Let's take a look at how we can troubleshoot that feeling...
1. The obvious- don't compare yourself to someone else's highlight reels
Just because someone has more likes and followers, cooler things and better quality pictures doesn't mean they are fulfilling their purpose nor are they happier or more fulfilled than you. Seriously, repeat that sentence to yourself once more and let it really sink in... More money doesn't mean more happiness and fulfillment. Better quality pictures, doesn't mean more happiness and fulfillment. Isn't life ultimately about being truly fulfilled and happy anyways? What good is money, fancy clothes, cool cars if your'e not happy with yourself?
2. Drawing conclusions, making assumptions, and judging...
Maybe your girl Susan has a fitness account as well as a child and you notice that all she does is post fitness pictures of herself. Do you draw conclusions about her being selfish for only posting about her and not her child?
Truthfully, it is not our place to judge people anyways. If we are so concerned with the way other people are living, we are ultimately wasting our time and should take that energy to do some self reflection as to why we are worked up over how others do things. Just because people do things different, doesn't always mean they are wrong or of bad character.
On a side note, if you are following someone who bothers you or triggers you into negative thinking and emotions, consider unfollowing them.
...Maybe your friend hasn't liked your pictures in a few weeks... Do you begin to question if he or she is mad at you? Well, this may not be the case. Maybe they are busy, maybe they haven't seen your posts pop up on their feed, maybe it's not about you at all... hmm...
Remember this, your thoughts and feelings are valid, but not always true, don't rely on your emotions and feelings too heavily.
3. A given- wasting time
I am not going to tell you how much you should or should not spend on social media, but I will say this- If you have responsibilities to take care of and you are mindlessly scrolling through social media for hours, it might be wise to begin working on prioritizing your time more effectively. The app isn't going to go away, but time will.
Give it a rest. Set aside a window of time that you will allow yourself to spend on social media, that way you can still fulfill all of the things that you need to get done throughout the day. I think we naturally turn to our phones when we are bored or unfocused. What has helped me, might help you too; turn your notifications off, place your phone in another room, or even turn it off completely.
4. Reliance on affirmation
Unfortunately, social media seems to be one large competition although, I have learned over the course of time that it doesn't have to be. I remember when I first started instragramming, being legitimately concerned about who did and didn't like my stuff... why? Well, one because I was trying to start a recovery page and still harbored intense feelings of shame from my past and knew that people from my 'dark days' who followed me would either like my ‘work’ or judge it. I began to grow nearly obsessed thinking about why certain people from my past were unfollowing me and not liking my posts, so I started to post things that I felt would make them accept me... HOW STUPID, seriously. But, to show myself some compassion, I believe this was my unhealed anxiety taking over at the time.
First and foremost, you are not defined by who you are in a silly app. You are not defined by the number of likes, comments, and followers you receive. You are also not defined by other people's opinions of you. What you are defined by is what is in your heart and soul.
5. Portraying a fake image
I believe it's easy to say you are one person on social media and be a completely different person in real life. You can preach self- love all day but if you actually hate yourself and are preaching it just to preach it, what good are you doing for yourself? You're essentially cheating yourself. I only can recognize this because well, I have portrayed a fake image of myself many times in my life on both social media, and in real life.
Who cares about the darn filters and a skin touch up, I'm talking about values here. If you want to help people and better yourself then use your account to do that. But if you're trying to prove yourself, make yourself seem better than you really are in hopes to cover up something you are hiding internally, it's not healthy and it will not feed into what you are ultimately trying to accomplish - happiness and internal peace.
6. Don't hate, congratulate!
I have people creepin' on me, me creepin' on them (I don't really do it anymore because I don't have the time or energy for it, but I used to), it's just the name of the game when it comes to social media.
If you're gonna creep, don't hate...again, you're wasting your time and energy by hating on people, instead, engage with people, uplift them, and get to know them! There are real people behind each account, treat them how you would want to be treated!
You have the choice of what you feed your mind with and what you don't. Everything negative you feed your mind with will have a negative effect, everything positive will have a positive effect.
My last little piece of encouragement is to encourage you to simply use social media for what it's good for; community, inspiration, appreciation, and communication.
Love to you all,