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How Social Media Is Making You Feel Bad about Yourself Every Day

How Social Media Is Making You Feel Bad about Yourself Every Day

Do you ever feel worse about yourself after scrolling through Facebook or Twitter? Does it seem as though everyone is leading a life better than your own? It’s all too easy to get jealous of others on social media. Vacation photos, engagement announcements, wedding shoots – it can be enough to make you seriously envious.

Symptoms of social media envy

So what are the symptoms of social media envy? The main clue is an overall drop in mood. You might feel empty after reading some particularly upbeat posts from a friend or relative. You may also feel compelled to read through all their posts, or flick through all their photo albums. Even when you feel jealous, it’s as though you can’t look away. On some level, you might even enjoy using their posts as a stick with which to beat yourself. Within minutes, you can spiral downwards into a pit of self-loathing and despair. You might also feel bad for feeling jealous. After all, shouldn’t you feel happy for others?

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Humans are inherently competitive

It may help to understand how this phenomenon arises in the first place. Humans are inherently social creatures who like connecting with others, but we are also a competitive species. The truth is that most of us enjoy showing off to some extent. The inevitable outcome is a society of people who tend to take every opportunity to show the world just how great they are, and how well their lives are going. Unfortunately, it is hard to remember this when you are browsing Facebook, and this is where the problems start. According to a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen, we start to feel envious when we compare our everyday lives with other people’s highlight reel – which is all social media really is.[1] When you fall into the trap of compar ing your private self with other people’s public personas, you are bound to feel inferior!

Jealousy is like real pain

Why is a jealousy a problem? It might feel like a mere annoyance on a day-to-day level, but the effects can accumulate over time. According to a piece research published in the journal Science, envy and physical pain make use of the same regions in the brain.[2] It actually hurts to feel jealous, and it can become a bad habit. Over time, you can become a bitter person who is too busy overanalyzing their own shortcomings rather than living life.

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So what can you do to combat social media envy?

Remove boastful people from your friends list

If you follow people who make a point of showing off at every available opportunity, unfollow or delete them. Boastful people are rarely good friends anyway. If you still want to keep in touch with them, stick to text or instant messenger instead.

Don’t be afraid to mention good things in your own life

If you have some good news to share, spread the positivity! There is nothing wrong in acknowledging your achievements and highlights on your profile. It’s only when it is done to excess or to make others jealous that you need to re-evaluate your behavior. Other people might have good lives, but chances are that you have great moments too. You could also set up a private profile that only you can view. Make this private profile as positive or even as boastful as you like. It sounds silly, but it could be a good self-esteem boost.

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Limit social media time

The simplest way to avoid succumbing to envy is to limit the amount of time you spend reading other people’s posts. Never allow yourself to waste hours looking longingly through a feed or photo album. Set yourself a reasonable time limit per day, and stick to it.

Use social media to connect, not compare

Social networks are designed for positive interactions, not pointless and unhealthy comparisons. Keep your focus where it belongs. Take a genuine interest in other people’s activities, lives, and opinions rather than running yourself down by making it into a competition.

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You don’t have to give up Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms entirely. They are great tools for staying in touch with others. However, in order to combat jealousy, you need to keep a balanced perspective and be willing to take a step back when necessary.

Reference

More by this author

Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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