You’ve finished your work and feel great about yourself, but then take a scroll through social media. Within minutes your brain is running circles with your “failings.”
This hijacking of our thoughts happens to the best of us and leaves us feeling icky and listless.
Today, our lives are built around technology and social media making us the most connected we’ve ever been. People we haven’t seen in years or best friends are all equally a finger’s touch away. Simultaneously, we’re also the most disconnected. It’s a strange conundrum: We spend so much time on social media but can walk away feeling isolated or crappy about ourselves.
When I ask friends about this, the consensus is that we see others succeeding, which can make us feel less than.
Humans have this wonderful quality known as comparison. It was helpful in the caveman days when we chose strong partners for protection or childbearing. It allowed us to measure the world in view of things that might kill us, like the tiger in the distance. We constantly played the comparison game because we had to know where we stood in the world. It was literally eat or be eaten.
Despite how we boast of multi-tasking skills, our brains have been designed to focus on one thing at a time.
This means that we’re constantly shuffling information, with the goal of having one thought in focus. Sadly, we tend to be drawn towards the negative.
As our brain attempts to find a focus point, it takes a lovely snapshot of Jack or Jill. Suddenly, we go from being content with our lives, to thinking,
“Oh crap she’s smart. I gotta be smart too.”
“Oh crap he just got that job. I gotta get my act together.”
“Oh crap they just got engaged?”
“Oh crap they just bought a house . . .
or had a kid, . . .
or took a vacation to Tahiti . . .
or found a suitcase of unmarked bills on the sidewalk . . .”
“OH CRAP! THEY ARE DOING BETTER THAN ME!”
Okay breathe. Here are 6 tips to help you get rid of the Oh Crap, and get your happy back.
1. The Fruit Fixation:
First, no one’s doing better than you because they don’t have your life. It’s like arguing over the best fruit – apple, orange, or banana? Sure they’re all fruit, but they’re different. We’re all humans living a life, but our lives are all different. We each have a particular purpose.
2. Don’t Be Gross:
Social media can implant thoughts of our failings. But who honestly wants to be the person that thinks, “Yep, I dislike you and your success.” It feels gross. Plus, we’ll never get the things we criticize.
So what if we looked at it differently?
The people in your social network (at least a majority of them) are there because you’ve made a connection with them at some point. Let’s think of them as “friends” of varying levels.
3. You’re on the Boat Party!
Let’s pretend you and your “friends” take a boat cruise. As you watch your friends dance around, you realize, “Wait, I’m on the boat too.” You’re a part of the party because you’re with friends. You’re surrounded with success and joy and you can use that to inspire you. You’re a part of a circle of success and joy. Woohoo!
4. Big Fish, Little Fish:
You could be a big fish in a small pond, or a little fish in the big blue sea. You could be surrounded with brilliant sea creatures that spur you on to greater things, or you could be the brightest, biggest fish in your own personal pond.
Growth requires us to grow and if we’re already taking up the whole pond, there’s nowhere to go.
5. Think of Joseph: We’re all trying to find value.
From the first caveman comparison, to the story of Joseph in the Bible, human problems go back years, engrained into our DNA. Joseph was 17, and didn’t have the maturity or tact to realize he was bragging (aka trying to find value). He was his father’s favorite son, which his brothers hated. Joseph made it worse by constantly sharing his dreams. In these dreams he ruled over his brothers and they bowed down to him.
If social media existed back then, he might have uploaded a few photos of wheat, written a poetic paragraph about the prophecy of his dream, and completed it with a hash tag. #IRule.
I joke, but we all long to find value. One way we do this is by comparing ourselves to one another. The real solution comes when we see ourselves as innately valuable, despite circumstances or others.
6. We Can Celebrate:
Whatever your friends share on social media, keep your heart focused on your purpose and value. You can be excited for their success and joys, because you want to celebrate with them. You can be inspired by them, AND know that their success doesn’t say anything less about your life, your work, or your worth in the world.
The only person that your growth can be measure against is the person you were yesterday and the person you’d like to become.
What a great thing to celebrate! #YouRule.
Also by Z: How to Prepare Yourself for Success
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Photo: Tina Leggio via Flickr