As an American living abroad during the past few US election cycles, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated with the state of things back home. Tensions and projections running rampant online and people fighting, blaming, and shaming each other when it seems unity would be the best course of action. Through these times, I’ve begun to question: Is social media a mirror of discontent?
To say things are toxic would be an understatement.
It seems like everywhere you turn, people are at odds with each other about everything.
“Things are changing; get over it.”
Before becoming a coach and therapist, I was one of those who walked around thinking, “just get over it.”
However, these days it is my opinion and the belief of many great scholars, thinkers, and leaders before me that love and compassion are necessities for living an honest and substantial life.
And the truth is, I couldn’t do this without being more loving and compassionate to myself.
WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?
Self-compassion is something most of us struggle with at the best of times.
It’s much easier to beat ourselves up about our perceived failures or prop ourselves up for our perceived strengths while comparing ourselves to other people’s faults and advantages than being honest with ourselves.
When we evaluate ourselves so stringently, it doesn’t just stay with us.
We tend to be less kind to others when we are cutting towards ourselves. I’ve worked with clients who pick apart other people’s lifestyles, partners, and appearances; it is just how they feel about themselves.
We all have done this, and it is not helpful because, as the saying goes (and I may be butchering this, so don’t quote me!), “What Sally says about Jane says more about Sally than it does about Jane.”
In other words, we only end up burning ourselves by thinking and saying cruel and judgmental things.
It is not entirely our fault. Sometimes, the human default setting is not to reassure ourselves that people are doing the best they can.
Sometimes, our default setting is to scrutinise others as harshly as we would ourselves.
When I ask, is social media a mirror of discontent, I mean it regarding how we judge success and failure nowadays. Is everything we scroll and swipe through our way of looking for a source of feedback by comparing what we see in others in ourselves?
I see this especially on social media, over and over again. And I’ve fallen victim to it myself. Say you’re having a bad day and are frustrated with your life; all it takes is a scroll through Instagram or Facebook to watch the highlight reels of other people’s lives to set us off into critical mode.
But guess what? Most of what we see on people’s social media accounts is (at least) slightly fictional. I have worked with individuals who show how great their relationship or career is online and then tell me things are hanging by a thread in real life.
Our perception of other people’s lives doesn’t obligate us to beat ourselves up for not having the same story as they do any more than it does to judge them for living differently than us.
SELF-EFFICACY AND OUR ABILITY TO SUCCEED
Most people are not very transparent about their true selves, and it keeps them from being able to show their vulnerability. If you’re a fan of Brene Brown like me, then you know the cost of hiding shame and vulnerability.
Success is not having an expensive car, a high-paying job, significant other, or 1% body fat.
Failure is not the absence of those things either.
Success and failure are just feedback, and they are what make us more resilient.
This feedback encourages our self-efficacy, as this detailed article on Positive Psychology defines it as the “overall belief in our ability to succeed.”
Your resilience is far greater than you give yourself credit. Just stop and think about everything you’ve been through in your life – hell, this month alone. I assure you that you have picked yourself up and dusted off more times than you even realise. Positive Psychology also states that those with a high level of self-efficacy are not only more likely to succeed but they are also more likely to bounce back and recover from failure.
So, what if you could be more aware of your resilience? What if you could constructively comfort and console yourself along the way?Is social media a 'mirror of discontent'? #comparisontrap #bestlife #selfcompassion #selfefficacy Click To Tweet
Being kind to yourself when you need it most is a necessity. It is part of being human.
It is part of the human experience to feel vulnerable and to experience failure or disappointment, but we don’t need to be our worst enemy when this happens. It is our moral imperative to build a healthy self-support system and realise that we all feel discontent and struggle. As Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the world of self-compassion, states: there are three main components to self-compassion — self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Self-compassion will enable us to be less critical of ourselves and others and further develop our resilient spirit.