Updated: Mar 29
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People keep blaming social media for the drop of self-esteem that we've all somehow faced in the last decade. But social media is not the problem. The problem is our inability to compare ourselves to other people, without taking their lives personally.
We see pictures of other people being fitter or having a better vacation than ours, and we automatically jump into blaming ourselves for not being even close to where those people (who in many cases are complete strangers) are in their lives.
How we respond to comparison is BAD
People keep linking this problem to social media, because social media's a tool that, more than any other tool that's ever existed, allows us to compare ourselves over and over again to hundreds of people in a matter of hours. This thing triggers our comparison inner monster, in less than a second per newlywed or Bali holiday post.
But the real issue isn't social media or comparison itself. The issue is that because we've never learned to look at other people's lives without turning their successes into our failures, then this tool has taken us to very dark places where self-esteem and depression broom like flowers in spring. And it's all because we don't know how to respond in a healthy way, to the hundreds of posts per day that trigger our need to compare our lives to everyone else's.
Instead of focusing so much on what social media is doing, what we need to do in order to start using this tool in a positive way, instead of as a weapon against ourselves, is to understand how we respond to what this tool is triggering in us.
Beautiful people say nothing about us
And what we need to learn about ourselves, is not even related to social media itself. What we need to learn to do, is to be surrounded by beautiful and successful people, inside or outside social media, and not let that question or put to doubt, our ability to succeed in the same way. We need to understand fully and deeply that other people's success has nothing to do with where we're at in our lives, and everything to do with our ability to succeed just like them. Because other human beings succeeding can only mean one thing for us: that we can also succeed.
Excuse me but fit bodies do exist in REAL life too
One of the things that I see the most often in social media, is beautiful and brave girls posting pictures of their bodies under different lightings and angles, to highlight the fact that a beautiful picture of a so-called perfect body, showing a super toned abdomen and not a pinch of cellulite, is not necessarily real.
I appreciate the intention and I agree that angles and lights, not to mention filters, make-up and photoshop of course, don't always do justice to what most natural bodies look like. However, the message that I'm also getting when I read these kinds of posts, is that we shouldn't feel bad about ourselves when we see such pictures, because that level of perfect beauty doesn't exist, and that it's mostly a nice light or a good angle.
Well, excuse me, but I'm pretty sure that I've seen incredibly fit woman live at the beach, with my own 2 eyes (so no filter, angle or special light) and also incredibly beautiful women without a pinch of makeup in their face (and again, no filter to blame). So the fact that some Instagram pictures are fake or not showing some part of reality, doesn't necessarily make me forget about the real life people that I've seen who are as fit and beautiful as the Insta pictures.
Tough love here... We need to learn to be happy for other people
And again, when you see a couple's picture travelling in Bali, true, they're probably not sharing all the fights that they had when planning the trip, or how worried they might be because someone in one of their family is sick. But the fact that they made it to Bali and took a nice picture is true. And people not in Bali comparing themselves to them and feeling sorry for their life because they're not in Bali, is still reality.
What I'm trying to say here, is that social media might show the best side of most people's lives. And that true, we shouldn't compare our real-life lows to other people's perfect grams. But more than that, we need to nurture our ability to see other people happy, and be happy for them. We need to practice being excited that we can also do the amazing things that others are doing. We need to train ourselves to be inspired by their pictures instead of miserable.
There's really no need to feel bad about ourselves
Their pictures and videos have nothing to do with us. They don't mean that we're less or that we're behind. There will always be someone doing something cooler than what you're doing, or wearing a nicer outfit, or with better skin, or staying at a hotel way fancier than the shared airbnb that you can barely afford after borrowing 20 bucks from your older sister. There will always be that, and we need to learn to live with that and stop making damaging links between random stranger's lives and our own.
You're perfect as you are, no matter what they're doing or showing!
This is what you need to know. Your life situation, as it is right now, is good enough. You're on a journey my love, your very own. Everybody is. And the more you use other people's success as a way to fuel your very own and motivate yourself, the faster you'll start moving forward. Use social media as a way to nurture and strengthen your ability be able to see what other people are doing, and not be reactive to it in a self-damaging way.
Make it your goal to understand that what other people are doing says nothing about you, and that wherever you're at in your journey is perfect and beautiful, no matter where other people are. Your journey is too beautiful and too unique for you to be unnecessarily diminishing how much it's worth.