Scroll through Facebook and you will see scores of pictures of people living their best lives. Their smiling faces and flashy outfits accompany tales of their achievements. Yet, for many of us, their successes spur social media envy.
At the peak of my social media use, I found myself trapped in the cycle of compare and despair. For instance, as I saw my friends excel in their careers, I felt I was being left behind.
Psychologist Leon Festinger defined this type of behaviour in his social comparison theory. His work was presented in 1954 but it is still relevant today, especially with the advent of digital media. Indeed, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook all provide ways for us to connect to our peers but also the means for us to compare ourselves to them.
We have all felt the twinge of social media envy at some point in our digital lives. These steps will help you challenge that mindset.
1. Express gratitude.
It’s easy assume people have something you don’t. However, there are many things for which you can be grateful, even if you don’t think they’re worth bragging about online.
Let’s say you’re personal trainer, for example. While scanning Facebook for the latest updates, you see your former high school classmate announce his promotion to a senior position at a law office.
Your social media envy erupts.
You ‘like’ your friend’s status update and say, “Congratulations,” with as many exclamation marks as you can fit without appearing obviously sarcastic. However, you feel dwarfed, and you worry your life is a disappointment in comparison.
To change that perspective, focus on gratitude. You have a career that offers you flexibility and the chance to meet a variety of people. Moreover, you can set your own hours, be your own boss and work beyond the confines of an office. You have a lot for which to be grateful.
Gratitude helps us find the positives in every situation. All you need to do is pay attention.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
2. Connect to the present moment.
Heavy Facebook usage has been linked to depression as a result of the comparisons we make between ourselves and others online. That, therefore, is an excellent reason to unplug and reconnect to the real world.
Seeing folks years my junior land jobs with large salaries made me question my past decisions and the future course of my life. Furthermore, I became afraid to make a “mistake” that would leave me even further behind.
Connecting to the present moment relieves us of stress from the past and anxiety for the future. By logging off social media, we can remove the triggers of those feelings from our focus.
“It’s important being here and now. There is no past and there is no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever is the now. We gain experience from the past but we can’t relive it, and we can hope for the future but we don’t really know if there is one. So, being in the now is the place to be.” – George Harrison
3. Be inspired by others.
As much as I encourage unplugging from social media, there is value in observing the achievements of others. This is especially true when those persons are in your field, community or age group.
When your friends win, you also win because you can be inspired by their success. They show what is possible when you manifest a dream or commit to achieving a goal. Also, their creativity provides ideas and lessons you can apply to your own life.
Being completely connected to social media is unhealthy but entirely shutting yourself off from the world is another extreme. Choose who you follow and do so with a healthy purpose. Let their journeys inspire you to be successful in your own unique way.
“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled from a spark from another person. Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer