Recently I was invited onto a platform called “Swoo,” to talk about the effects social media has on our lives. Though I was primarily focused on the negative impact, I did talk of the positive. Being an artist and performer, social media has enabled a new world to open up, where everyone can interact in some form. If not through “comments,” the new integration of “Live” videos, from the likes of applications like Snapchat and Instagram, has enabled actual, in-person interactions to also take place, from wherever in the world you are. This is fantastic for someone like me, who can now have a more authentic relationship with people who enjoy my work. Through live chats, I am also able to be more interactive and answer questions on the go.
Well I stumbled upon this image, and it really sums it all up. Comparison is the thief of joy. ‘Why is this relevant?’ Well exactly why social media can have a negative impact, because it encourages comparison. In my live feed, I emphasized time and time again, that we have to remember social media platforms, 95 % of the time, represents the highlights of people’s lives. I think its acceptable for me to generalize that the majority, would not want to post about their low times, or capture something painful. Speaking for myself, I know if I was to give you a summary of my Instagram feed, I would say it captures what I love the most. For me this includes, fitness related images or quotes, motivational and uplifting quotes, pictures of me at work, or doing shoots and some memorable moments with friends and/or family. This is not to say I don’t have bad days. This is not to say, I don’t have days where I am looking terrible, or at least feeling that way. Would I post on the times I am not feeling great? Probably not. And this is what I really want to focus on right here.
I called this article ‘Love Thyself,’ because that is something we are not doing enough of. Women, yes especially. However trust me our male counterparts also suffer with insecurities and comparison syndrome! Now I have to admit I just made up that word, but it makes a lot of sense. It has developed into a sort of syndrome, and I find that awfully scary, don’t you? With depression on the increase in kids as young as twelve or thirteen years of age, both girls and boys, it’s a definite worry that social media may be having a more negative impact then positive among all age groups. Loving yourself more has been such a debatable topic, especially over the last ten years, where more and more authors have written about techniques encouraging us to love ourselves more. What once was seen as a “selfish” act, is now seen as a skill which needs to be taught, in order to be developed and learnt from scratch. If we are constantly bombarded with beautiful people, and perfect bodies, as human beings we are naturally going to compare. It is easy to see why so many of us, especially women suffer from extremely low confidence levels, when on a daily basis we are comparing ourselves to the benchmark of a Victoria secret model.
So now you’re asking, “Anisa, what is the solution?”
My answer is “YOU.” You are the solution because it is you, and only you who can control your emotions, and mind. I know this sounds like an impossible task. Trust me it is not always easy. However there are small steps which can help you get there, and it starts with observing your thought patterns. I am always advocating that the base for getting your mind set in the right place, starts with gratitude. Are you grateful for where you are in your life right now? If not why? Now before you answer, I would encourage you to make a list of five things your grateful for right now. It sounds silly, but trust me once you get thinking, those five become ten, and those ten become twenty. That is because, since we are talking comparison here, compared to so many people in the world, I am sure you have something to be grateful for. If you have food on your plate, and a roof on your head, trust me it is a great start!
Secondly. I gave my Instagram followers a little homework exercise to help them understand whether their comparison was what we could call a “healthy” comparison, or an “unhealthy” comparison. I asked my followers to go onto their Instagram feed, and look at everyone they are following. Are you one of those people who can look at another person’s success, and truly be happy for them? When you see that friend on your feed, or a celebrity on your feed, who is doing tremendous in life, does it create feelings of jealousy and hatred, or love and inspiration? Now trust me, I have been there. I have been in that place where I have compared, and what was the outcome? Nothing. That is it nothing! Because nothing good comes from comparison if the comparison is unhealthy. With a little work on myself every day, (and yes it takes practice), I am now at a place where I can genuinely say I am inspired by the women I follow, because they make me want to be great, and work harder. They fuel me into wanting to achieve my dreams even more. When I wake up in the morning, and I have that cup of coffee, I love going through my Instagram feed, because the people I follow are amazing. They inspire me. I sometimes get Goosebumps listening to a great speaker, or tuning into an amazing interview or podcast. For me, this works. It won’t work for everyone. Which is why you need to start getting in tune with your emotions, and figure out whether you are able to have a healthy relationship with social media. If you are able to be bombarded with another person’s success, yet love yourself enough to know this journey is unique to you, you win.
You are unique. Another person’s success is not going to hamper yours. Let me say that again. ANOTHER PERSON’S SUCCESS WILL NOT HAMPER YOURS. I truly believe this. There is enough space in this beautiful universe for all of us to succeed. We just have to find our way on our journey. Sometimes we will trip up but that’s ok! We are aiming for growth, not perfection.
What moved me the most, was I got feedback from some of my followers telling me they un-followed certain people, as those people stopped serving them. They were not adding to their growth. This is amazing to me, because it means more people getting in tune with their emotions, to bring out the best in themselves. They have started loving themselves enough to put themselves first, and not just follow the crowd. If we are always busy loving other people’s lives, our life will go by in a blink. We would have spent more time loving the idea of a perfect self, or perfect life, and not enough time loving the one life we got. Come on everyone…love thyself.