By Lyss Aviles
Social Media has radically changed how we live our lives. Every day we wake up, log in, check our notifications, and browse our newsfeeds to see what’s happening in the world today.
The beauty of social media is that it keeps us connected with friends, family members, and co-workers. It allows us to follow and see the everyday lives of celebrities we love. It gets us pumped up and hyped for TV shows, movie, and Netflix Originals coming soon. It helps us discover new places to eat and new businesses to support in our city and around the world.
We can raise thousands of dollars for fundraisers, and when natural tragedies strike, we can use it to raise awareness and find ways to serve those who need it most.
For some, social media has even created careers where you can work from home online!
With all these great things, it’s no surprise more people are creating accounts. In 2017, 81% of Americans are using social media. A 5% increase compared to 2016.
With the rapid growth of social media, usage has also brought to life a silent and deadly epidemic. One I would like to refer to as comparison.
Whether you would like to admit it or not, you’ve begun to be more critical of yourself and compare your life to someone else’s.
We’ve all been there.
This past year really hit me hard with this topic. As a self-employed, creative entrepreneur, I spend most of my time on these networks marketing for myself and my clients.
In the process, I’d read posts and see photos from people who seemed to have it all together: people who were making way more money than me with less experience. People who were getting picked up by brands I’d love to be sponsored by. People who were traveling the world with no worry about their finances. People who seemed to get anyone to follow them and buy their products in a heartbeat, no questions asked.
Comparison started to settle in.
For hours I would scroll through my feeds, wishing my life was the way I saw others.
I began to question everything.
I questioned my self-worth.
I questioned my talents, my skills, my career.
I questioned my marriage, my friendships, my faith.
I questioned where I went wrong to feel this way.
Raise your hand if this is you! ?
Comparison became a part of who I was. It began to take over my mindset.
I felt stuck. I felt helpless.
Did you know studies are now showing that prolonged usage on Social Media networks is beginning to have a negative impact on mental health! No wonder we feel this way!
Something had to change.
I began to take a few small steps in hopes that it would make a big difference (spoiler alert: it has)!
1. Disconnect from Social Media
Some of you may be like “OH MY GOSH, BUT I COULD NEVER DO THIS”.
Yes. You. Can.
95% of my business comes from Social Media Marketing. I told myself for years I could never go a day without it because my business would suffer.
That is a lie. (Many of these platforms now have automation & schedulers in place so if you are concerned about posting daily, you can sit down one day a month and schedule it all out!)
Here are some ways you can start stepping back:
- Challenge yourself to only go online for a certain amount of time a day
- Delete Social Media apps from your phone or tablet
- Consider deactivating your accounts for a certain amount of time
- Unsubscribe from notifications (You can read more about how the brain responds to notifications here)
- Start getting involved with activities that don’t require you to be online whether that is volunteering with a local group or being more intentional about being outside !
I found that by placing better boundaries with my social media life, mentally I was in a better place! It also impacted my relationships and encouraged me to be more intentional with who I surround myself with, which brings us to our next step.
2. Distance Yourself from Toxic or Negative Relationships & Situations
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”.
Examine your life currently.
Are your friendships uplifting?
Are your conversations spent talking sh*t about others or talking about things that encourage you?
Are you surrounded by people or family members who aren’t willing to change for the better?
Do you feel like you’re always handed the bad card in life?
Many of us can relate to the above. I realized many the conversations I had with people were with those who would constantly complain about their life, their marriages, their businesses, their situations. Our family was dealing with a toxic situation with other family members. My husband and I were processing a friendship that hurt us that we compared ourselves to quite often.
All of us were stuck in the comparison cycle one way or another. It was draining, and it was seeping into my business, as well.
The negative conversations would make me compare.
The more I compared my life to others, the more depressed I became.
The depression bred anxiety, which resulted in me constantly beating myself up.
Since I was beating myself up more often, my self-worth plummeted.
Because I thought so low of myself, my pricing was cheap.
You see where this is going?
No wonder I was stuck in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and continuously bringing in clients who didn’t find value in what I do!
What did we do to change things?
I forgave the friendships that hurt us.
We accepted the reality that some family members would no longer communicate with us and be part of our lives.
I took a step back from the friends who were constantly complaining.
I began to unfollow people who were constantly negative on their accounts.
I joined Facebook Groups that would help me GROW.
These little changes made a massive difference in my business, marriage, friendships and my mental health. The positive change drove me to become more intentional with what I do every day with what I am given, which brings us to our next point.
3. Practice Gratitude With Where You Are
In our society of instant gratification and smart technology, it’s so easy to forget what we are blessed with. When we compare our lives to others, we are essentially telling the Universe we aren’t thankful for what we DO have.
Let that sink in.
We aren’t thankful that we can easily access and read this blog online.
We aren’t thankful for our smartphones or devices that allow us to connect with one another.
We aren’t thankful for a shelter above our heads.
We aren’t thankful for power to light our homes.
We aren’t thankful for the food we can get at a store on any street.
We aren’t thankful for the fresh air we can breathe.
The list could go on.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma was heading directly for our area (Tampa/St. Pete, Florida). It was a Category 4. We did the best we could to prepare knowing our power could be out for weeks, stores may be out of food and water for a while, and our businesses could take a financial hit.
Literally, within 24 hours of Hurricane Irma coming our way, it shifted and slowed down. We dodged a major bullet. Our power did go out, but thankfully our family got it back within 24 hours. We went to work right away cleaning up where we could, giving our extra food and water to families who may need it, and opening our homes to those who could use it.
For some families and business owners, the power was out for weeks. Most of the power in our area was back up within 3 weeks.
Even with the hundreds of power companies and trucks that came from the US working around the clock, there were still people who complained it wasn’t quick enough.
Then, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico shortly after, completely devastating majority of the island. TO THIS DAY (as of January 2018), HALF of the island still doesn’t have power. You don’t realize how blessed you are until situations like this happen.
Majority of the time we aren’t growing because we are too busy comparing.
When you start practicing gratitude for what you have and where you are, watch as your life begins to naturally transform. Here are some ideas for practicing gratitude:
Start Volunteering with a local Non-Profit
Write down one thing you are grateful for today
Randomly Bless a Stranger
Comparison doesn’t have to rule your life.
I encourage you to take this writing to heart. Stop comparing and start creating a better life for YOU, your family, your friends, and your clients!
Lyss Aviles is a self-employed artist with a background in painting, photography, and graphic design. Currently, she is focusing on website design & brand development for small business owners. Outside of the digital world, you can catch her eating gluten-free pastries, hanging with her chickens, driving around town in her vintage pick-up, or volunteering with local groups.