The Elephant in the Room: Social Media & Your Emotional Health
How to Know If Social Media Is A Tool Or A Weapon In Your Own Life.
I am a functioning sugar addict in today’s society. Having a tub of peanut-butter-cup ice cream in my freezer is as much of a trigger to me as a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic. So I don’t keep it in my freezer. It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t.
For me, it’s a bad idea. For someone who’s more of a mint chocolate chip kind of gal, it might not make a difference. But for me, it does As in, I know what’s going to happen. I know how this story ends. This isn’t my first rodeo.
I will eat more than I intended to eat, and I WILL proceed to feel guilty afterwards, and I KNOW I won’t even enjoy the indulgence because that ice cream would be putting the guilt in the term guilty pleasure.
So why would I do that to myself? Make myself work that hard to resist….and then expose myself to all that guilt afterwards? Instead, I have it when I want it. I don’t keep it around as one of the staples in my freezer.
Either way, I know what MY triggers are (most of them anyways), and when I’m mindful of not setting them off, my life works better. It’s not just food either. If I’m feeling down or a little bluesy, Facebook is a trigger.
Facebook? Say what?
Yup. I said Facebook. Actually I’m talking about all social media. And I’m discovering with A LOT of women that this is a huge trigger for many.
You see I believe anything can be used as a weapon or a tool. To my grandma when she was in pain dying of cancer, morphine was a tool to help ease the pain and make her more comfortable. To a morphine addict, it’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Back to this whole social media thing….
I can use it to connect with others, express myself, find amazing like-minded women with similar struggles, tap into its powers for advertising, access cool information (damn you, Buzzfeed!), you get the picture.
Facebook is and can be one POWERFUL tool if used as one. But if I’m using it mindlessly or unintentionally, I can become a ‘victim’ of its wrath.
THAT is the elephant in the room that I speak of: Facebook and other forms of social media (if you allow it) can be used as one big comparison trap. And for the women out there that struggle with self-esteem, body image, or self-worth, I believe it can be even MORE dangerous.
When I’m feeling a bit down, you better believe that my life is going to pale in comparison to the people on my “friends” list from my childhood, the people that have the ‘perfect’ body, the ‘perfect’ life, the ‘perfect’ family, or the ‘perfect’ career.
Don’t get me wrong, the mammalian part of my brain loves seeing that someone hit the ‘like’ button on my post, or that my picture of a wiener dog laying inside a hot dog bun got lots of interaction from my friends.
But there’s a massive difference between desiring interaction on social media and requiring it in order to feel happy or to fuel your self-esteem.
You see where I’m going here?
When I’m using Facebook to compare myself to others, compare myself to where I’m “supposed to” be, or compare my life to someone else’s life, of course I’ll pale in comparison. Of course I’m going to feel miserable. Because now Facebook has become a weapon!
Who’s to say I can’t look at my Facebook feed and simply be HAPPY for those that I’m comparing myself to? Who says I have to look at Facebook and use it as some measuring stick to stack myself up against others? I guarantee Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create it for this purpose.
It’s my choice whether or not I use it as a tool of mass connection….or a weapon of mass comparison. And the same is true of everything else.
What are you using as a tool to influence your life in the way you want it to go….or as a weapon of control or comparison?
Are you using your body as a tool to connect to yourself… or a weapon of burden and hostility against yourself?
Are you using food as a tool for pleasure, nourishment, and healing…or as a weapon to punish or restrict or guilt yourself?
What about your words? Are they a tool or a weapon?
Trust me, I know this ‘line’ of self-questioning is a bit unconventional, but I guarantee that if you take the time and effort to identify the triggers in your life and when you use things as a tool or a weapon, you’re not going to fall ‘victim’ to your habits anymore.
You’re not going to feel so darn “out of control” in those areas you most desperately want to change. And you’ll stop feeling like YOU are your own worst enemy or your biggest threat, and instead you’ll find out that you have the power to be your most valuable tool in this game we call life.
Here are some tools and tactics to help you influence your energy in a socialized world:
1. Audit yourself. How often are you mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed out of habit or boredom? (this doesn’t refer to actively participating in a group you belong to or posting updates — strictly mindless or distracting behavior)
2. Do a ‘purge’ of people you follow. Are you mindful of who you ‘follow’ on social media? And how do they make you FEEL? Be especially aware of the ‘friends’ that rob you of energy. It’s on them when it comes to how they show up online. It’s on you to filter your influences and guard your energy. Ask yourself: does this person bring me joy, or do they rob me of energy?
3. Like yourself first. How much of your self-esteem, mood,or self worth is attached to how many likes, comments, or responses you get on social media? Quick mindset shift: Before you post something, ask yourself: “Even if no one ‘likes’, comments, or shares this, do I still want to share this?” Imagine if you started posting based on what YOU like, what YOU think, and what makes YOU happy? Double dog dare you to try.
4. Assess actual connection levels. Does your social connection truly make you feel connected? Or does it create more of a disconnect in your head and heart? Humans are wired to seek connection. If you’re social connection isn’t doing the trick, go seek actual human connection. It’s the most powerful and most underutilized ‘drug’ out there. (Not to mention free!)
5. Take an inventory of how you’re feeling BEFORE you log on. Are you conscious or aware of the situations or times that social media adds value to your life? What about when it’s detracting from your life? (For example, when I’m feeling happy and feel like I’m actually connecting, social media can enhance my life. If I’m feeling low, it can easily turn into a weapon). When you become mindful of when and how you use social media, you become the boss of your social life.
Awareness is the key when it comes to changing any habits that have become fired and wired in our brains. Social media is NOT going away anytime soon, so I believe it’s our duty to make sure we own it more than it owns us. It’s a magical concept and tool that can create massive amounts of expression and connection that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without it. But we must be intentional when it comes to how and why we use it.
There’s a major cost to NOT being intentional with it. It’s true what they say: “Comparison is the thief of joy”.
So I say: Choose joy.
Leanne is a straight-talking, science-loving educator & coach — here to empower women to not just change how they LOOK on the outside, but change how they FEEL on the inside — by breaking up with the thoughts that are holding them back & slipping into something a little more confident…
Although her 100 lb. weight loss was her main career driver initially, major spine surgery and the face-off between her “fat head” and “skinny head” led her down a road she could have never predicted and paved the way to create curriculums that help women Re-wire their Self-Image by taking a 3-D Mind/Body/Brain approach to their Transformation.
It’s personal development meets neuro-psychology meets ‘School of the Hard Knocks’, and now she teaches women all over the world her own personal systems for how to Eat, Play, Love, AND Live through the science of Self-Imaging. She also makes a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies. You can connect with her over at http://www.LeanneEllington.com
Originally published at dev.worldlifestyle.com on August 1, 2015.