Lately I’ve been trying to focus on and create abundance in my life. You can read my recent post about it here. And even though I’ve been thinking about abundance, trying to practice gratitude, reminding myself of what’s important in life, and praying about it…I have still been struggling to really internalize and cultivate it in my life. My heart knows I should feel fulfilled and happy (really, I have SO much), and yet my head has been telling me otherwise. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, and have even started to judge anyone who has things that I would like to have…things I think I need. Insert eye roll.
I’ve been trying to examine this. What’s the root cause of this issue? I mean, yeah…it sucks to not have money to take vacations. It sucks to feel like we don’t have money in the budget to fix our broken sink. It sucks to feel like new clothes and a good haircut are luxuries I can’t afford. But…those are all kind of first world problems. Not kind of, they definitely are. We have running water, food on the table, and ENOUGH of everything we need…clothes, toys, electronics. So why have I been feeling like I’m entitled to more? And I think that’s where social media comes in.
Instagram is my drug of choice. Some prefer Facebook or Snapchat…but they’re all the same. So many of us spend a lot of our free time scrolling and consuming the content of other people’s lives, and I think it has consequences far beyond what most of us realize. I’m trying to be really honest here – so let me confess that even though I’m writing this and having these realizations it’s all still a work in progress for me. I unfollowed something like 100 people today, but just before I hopped on to write this I was scrolling the contents of the remaining 70 something people I follow. I’m not perfect. And I’m not advocating for a total ban either. But there are a few things I think we should all consider…
- Who do you follow?
I’ve come to realize that I should not be following ANYONE who makes me feel envious or insecure. I mean, duh…but these feelings can creep in slowly and unexpectedly.
The more obvious culprits are accounts/people like celebrities who are living a lifestyle that most of us can not live up to. Or maybe it’s the friend who seems to be perpetually on vacation. Or the people who only post the most flattering pictures of themselves in the most hipster clothes. Or the people who are always out at a restaurant or show, having drinks, and appear to have no responsibility at all. I know for sure these people don’t have young kids, but DO THEY EVEN HAVE JOBS?!
So yeah, it’s not surprising that these things make me feel a little bad…a little lonely…a little sorry for myself…as I’m sitting in the same clothes from yesterday, unshowered, cleaning up the 789th mess that my 1 year old has made that day.
The sneakier accounts are probably more specific to you and your personal struggles. I encourage you to go through the list of people you’re following and really think about how you feel after consuming their content. For example…I’ve always enjoyed interior design. It’s something I’ve loved to read about and follow along with for years. But I’ve recently realized that I need to cut that out for now. It’s not that I don’t still enjoy it, I do…but at this stage in my life (having a small child and living in a one-income household) watching someone do a $50,000 bathroom renovation on Instagram stories day after day is probably not a great idea.
It’s important to note that I don’t think these people are intentionally trying to make me feel bad. They are just living their lives and doing their thing. But if what they’re posting is causing issues for me then it’s pretty simple: unfollow.
2. Why are you posting?
This is the flip side to the first point. Maybe it’s your account that’s making people feel bad, and maybe you secretly (or not so secretly) KNOW that. I suspect many of us are not doing this intentionally but when we really start to think about why we’re posting something…it’s usually related to pride. Here’s an excerpt from the book Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller. She’s talking about physical appearance, but I think it relates to this issue so well:
“Likewise, the way to love women (people) in a culture of impossible standards is to reject those impossible standards by humbling ourselves. We have to choose compassion over comparison, and compassion over competition. Does that mean we should auction off our wardrobes and wear burlap sacks? Definitely not….but it does mean our goal is not to be the cutest girl in the room. It means the purpose of our appearance is not to hide our imperfections. It means being honest about our vanity so that we can scale it back a step or two. It means that when we go to a social event or coffee or dinner (or post online), the last thing our friends need is for us to be competing with them or raising the bar for them to jump even higher.” (words in parenthesis are mine).
I think it’s important to consider this. We can all still enjoy and savor and remember the good moments from our lives without sharing it with everyone who wasn’t there. Some good things are meant to be shared…but maybe some aren’t.
3. Everyone struggles
The most important thing to remember (and we’ve all heard it a million times) is that everyone struggles. Social media is just the highlights. We all know this, but do we REALLY know it? If I’m not consciously thinking about this it becomes very easy to forget. We’re all just humans doing our best, feeling a lot of painful things, and trying to enjoy the time we have. If stepping back and scrolling or interacting online less helps you to remember that..then don’t ignore that. It’s something I’m realizing and actively working on. It does feel like an addiction that needs to be broken (and of course there is a ton of research on social media as addiction). When you know better, do better. So let’s do better.
Whew. Ok. This was long but I wanted to organize these thoughts and get them out there. I thought maybe other people could benefit, or could use the reminder…so thanks for sticking with me!
Happy to hear your thoughts in the comments, and would love to know if there are other areas in life where you struggle when trying to practice gratitude or lead an abundant life.