Social media is a wonderful tool. It has connected us in such amazing ways to information and support in the postnatal days, weeks, months and years, to help us feel like we’re not alone, and to offer us 3am guidance when we’re not sure if our baby’s poo is the right colour or for solidarity when you feel like you’re the ONLY PERSON AWAKE IN THE WORLD.
But, it has also opened us up to the lives of people who we don’t know or ever meet in real life, and this deepens our insecurities and feelings of emptiness when we see someone who we feel is doing a better job than us. In the average social media scroll, you might feel 10 or more times that someone is better than you, has a nicer house, a better relationship, loves life more, is having a fantastically Instagrammable Christmas, jet setting off around the globe and spending all the money that you don’t and will never have – all of these narratives tap into deep-centred core beliefs that you might not even be aware that you hold, and you receive this in your body as a physical stress.
So the first thing to do, to get your body out of this stress response, is to put the phone down as soon as you feel that icky sensation. As soon as you have a thought of “why am I not….?” or “she’s so much more…” put the phone down, immediately. That will enable you to catch the thought. Then, complete the stress response by taking 5 deep, slow breaths. And say to yourself “I am enough”. This all sounds bonkers, but try it and i promise over time it will make you aware of JUST HOW MUCH your social media feed makes you feel crap. And this alone can be quite a powerful realisation.
The next stage is to curate your feed with more care. Unfollow or mute the accounts that elicit even the slightest “not-good-enough response”, in any small way: begin to recognise how you’re feeling with more intention. I know, I get it, some accounts are like flames to your moth: they are so very alluring and hard to stay away from. But as a self-protection mechanism you have to begin to notice when your overwhelming feeling on social media is one of lack, depletion, envy and discomfort rather than of joy/friendship/support.
Next, write yourself an achievements list. A “Compared to ME” list. Write down 5 things that you have done which make you amazing. Call it your “Amazing ME’ list, or whatever you would prefer. Keep it somewhere that you can refer to it often, and whenever the comparison demons raise their heads, put the phone down and read it.
Also – please be aware that when you’re tired, hungry, hormonal or dehydrated, your inner response will be more critical and lack the optimism and creativity of your “best self”. So: have a drink of water. Breathe, and stretch. Soften your shoulders. Your physical body feeling tended to and comfortable will help your inner critic take a seat and let your inner cheerleader a go at the mike.
Do you find social media to be a comparison trap? I’d love to know xxx
Anya with newborn Maurice