When you open any number of social media platforms and scroll through photos of vacations, celebrations with family and friends, and adorable pets, do you start thinking, “I’m not successful enough” or “I’m not good enough”?
When there’s a constant stream of such information, which influences how we think we should look, act and feel, it’s increasingly difficult to stave off feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. Research is even linking social media with negative effects on self-esteem, including feelings of envy, anxiety and depression. But there are ways to combat that. Psychologist Kristin Neff offers three key ways:
- We’re kinder to ourselves. Self-compassion increases our ability to be kind to ourselves rather than judgmental by replacing our inner critical voice with phrases that are loving, tender and encouraging.
- We’re more connected. Self-compassion reduces feelings of isolation and increases feelings of belonging, reminding us that suffering is an inescapable part of the human condition.
- We’re more mindful. Self-compassion increases our ability to be self-awarene and mindful.
Related Article: Is Social Media Making You Anxious?
The next time you’re scrolling through social media and notice your turning negative, practice self-compassion, not social comparison. Here are some tips to help:
- Identify ways in which social media can support your journey of self-compassion. Choose to follow accounts that are inspirational and affirming.
- Mindfully accept your emotions. If a photo or post brings up feelings of inadequacy or envy, accept your feelings instead of suppressing or avoiding them. Respond to your feelings with words and thoughts of kindness. Remember imperfection is a part of the human experience—even on social media.
- Decrease screen time. Sometimes the most self-compassionate response to negative emotions is taking a break from social media. Instead, engage in self-care practices like drinking tea, deep breathing exercises, taking a warm bath or spending time with a beloved pet.