Social media has made it easier than ever for our generation to connect with others, but that ease of connection also brings out an unintended magnifying glass to our own lives. The average person spends 3 hours on social media per day. You might think it's just something to pass your time and help you feel connected to friends and family, but what we aren't seeing is what's going on behind the scene's in our minds.
Alex got engaged. You're genuinely happy for her, but you cant help to break out the magnifying glass and ask yourself when you'll finally meet the one. Your mind begins to travel. My god, I'm getting older and soon enough won't be able to have children if I don't find someone soon. What if I never find a partner?
Sam broke free from their corporate 9 to 5 and started a successful business that offers lot's of freedom financially and physically. You couldn't be more proud for Sam, but also can't seem to help looking at your own unfulfilling career. That magnifying glass pops out of your pocket and you can't help but pick it up to take a look. I wish I could start my own business or change careers, but my job is too secure and I'm way too old to change careers or go back to school.
See how this works?
You know you've had similar internal monologues after a scroll through Instagram or whatever social vice is your preference. This type of thinking and internal monologue are wreaking havoc on our mental well-being slowly, and with total detriment. Read this next sentence very slowly. Got it?... great!
YOU ARE NOT ON THE SAME JOURNEY AS ANYONE ELSE.
Your journey is your own. You are not on Alex's journey. You are not on Sam's journey. You are on (insert your name here)'s journey. This means anyone else's placement, achievements or life accomplishments should be celebrated no doubt, but never in comparison to your current situation.
You are brilliant and all will happen on your journey in due time. Travel at your own speed. Maybe your pace is faster. Maybe your pace is slower. It's also very possible that you aren't meant to even have that specific outcome in life. Don't be so quick to pull out that magnifying glass. After all, you may find yourself in comparison with someone else but when the universe gives you exactly what you've envied, you realize very quickly it was never for you.
Ways To Help Travel At Your Own Speed:
LIMIT SCREEN TIME
It's lame, yeah... but when you limit your screen time you're limiting your exposure to competing with those thousands of people you follow on social media. Think about it. How often are you in a silent competition with someone you haven't even met in real life or even spoken to digitally? We do this subconsciously when we see our favorite influencer's new post and long to have their wardrobe, job, or follower count. THIS IS TOXIC. Most of us are so accustom to this type of thought process and longing that we are completely unaware it's set up camp in our minds.
Step 1: Put your phone down for the first hour upon waking up and the last hour before bed. These are sacred times. We do not fu*k with the sacred times of our day, okay? The first hour can affect your entire day. The last hour affects your sleep (also sacred).
Step 2: Replace these two hours with something wholesome and nurturing. Meditate, read, go for a walk, listen to music, journal, make love... but for the love of your sanity do not pick up that phone.
Step 3: Become self aware of how tiring and stressful social media has been for you just by starting and ending your day with your phone.
START A GRATITUDE PRACTICE
When you begin to feel like your in a silent competition with someone try replacing those feeling with gratitude. Incorporating a gratitude practice into your life can also help areas of anxiety. I first began my personal gratitude practice to help silence anxiety, but it works incredible for silencing competition too. Anytime you feel the need to bring out the magnifying glass to your life try acknowledging three things you are grateful for in the present moment. I like to keep a small notebook with me as my gratitude journal. When I'm feeling anxious or I'm looking at my life through a magnifying glass I take this journal out to jot down three things I am currently grateful for OR I read past entries of gratitude.
This practice helps take the spotlight off the things we wish we had. Maybe the job or bank account or life we envy from others. It helps us remember how far we have actually come on our journey and how much we currently can be thankful for in life. It takes us out of the future, longing and what if mindset while bringing us back to the present moment.
I've never been a journal person, but this particular practice has really enhanced my mindset and mental well being. Even if you aren't into journaling I encourage you to give this practice a try.
NURTURE THE VOICE WITHIN
You know the quote, You are your own biggest critic? That critic is your voice within. You might call it your ego or internal monologue. While it's vital for a balanced life, it's also one of our biggest enemies at times (keep it close). Like anything else in life, if you want to live in harmony with your internal voice you must build a healthy relationship with her/him.
This is where a bit of mindfulness practice comes into play. Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautiful explanation of nurturing your internal self in one of my favorite mindfulness books, You Are Here. When a negative thought enters the mind he instructs not to judge the thought or yourself for thinking the thought. Instead he encourages to meet the thought with a nurturing energy. Acknowledge the thought and greet it's arrival. Hello envy, I see you, I hear you, I release you. The idea isn't to bury or ignore negative thoughts about yourself, but to instead work through the logicality of the thought then release. When choosing to release the thought you're choosing to let go of something that could poison your mindset and well-being.
I know this practice may sound a bit silly if you haven't practiced mindfulness, but with practice you'll be able to manage and release negative/ unrealistic thoughts with ease. When you master nurturing the voice within a weight begins to lift off you emotionally and mentally. You're no longer carrying around the negativity of your own thoughts.
You know, it can often feel like we don't have any control over where we currently are in our journey. At times that can be absolutely true. Especially when an unexpected chain of events happens. We do however have control over how we react not only to others, but to ourselves. Try being mindful of what is causing you to be so hard on yourself. You are traveling at the perfect speed. There's no need to slow down or speed up for anyone else.
Take care of yourself.