On December of last year I was going through a rough patch where I felt insecure about myself, my friendships, I doubted if I was fun to hang around… I know, it seems like things we would worry about in elementary school and shouldn’t be feeling this as an adult. But I was.
I began to realize that this feeling became more present while I was scrolling through Instagram. Most of the things I saw gave me a sense of jealousy. Even though I’m well aware social media is just a curated version of our lives, a snapshot where we only show the pretty side of everything, I still couldn’t shake this feeling. I felt stress, anxiety and a sense of inadequacy. I decided I need to change something: I would stop using Instagram for a month and see how this impacted my state of mind.
I didn’t make it through the whole month but, this experiment did help me confirm that the negative feelings I was getting were stemming from certain Instagram accounts. I felt a bit of relief knowing that I had identified where all this was coming from. I went on with my life, now with a new perspective and a with the assurance that, if this sentiment ever came back, I would know how to remedy it.
Well, a little while ago, these feelings came back. This time, it had nothing to do with the social aspect of my life, but everything to do with my professional life, what I was doing, achieving, if I was moving forward with any of my business projects and ideas. How was I impacting the world? I felt inadequate, I felt I was falling behind and found I was comparing myself with others, what they were doing, what they were achieving.
This time, I knew where all this was coming from, I immedtialy decided to unfollow a few Instagram accounts that I had started following at some point in my life but now felt they were doing more harm than good. They were just a few, but this made all the difference.
On this second “encounter” with these feelings, I realized the importance of quickly acknowledging the way I was feeling and making a change as soon as possible. I didn’t let it fester and therefore didn’t feel as bad as the first time. Usually, these feelings don’t show up out of the blue, there’s little hints from time to time and if we become aware of them and learn how to recognize them we can prevent them from taking over.
From now on, I promise myself to check up on my social media accounts and eliminate any, if there where, that are making me doubt myself or my path in life. I feel there’s a difference between social media accounts that push me to become a better person, and those that beat me down and make me feel bad about where I am. I don’t respond to the latter.
We shouldn’t feel bad about unfollowing accounts, we can always go back to them at another point in our lives. Or, we could mute them, and unmute them later on, Let’s remember that we are on our phones for a greater part of our day and what we see on them constantly feeds our thoughts and our feelings.
For now, I’ll continue with a rule I once made for myself: On Instagram I only follow accounts that:
- inspire me to better my health (food and excercise)
- inspire me aesthetically (interior design)
- brighten my day (friends that share their days and adventures with their kids and family)
- make me laugh (comics and pop culture)
Do you know who you’re following and why?
I would love to hear if you struggle with anxiety or feelings of self doubt caused by social media, what have you found helps diminish or stop those feelings?