Month: May 2017

Reboot your social media envy

Reboot your social media envy

Last week a friend asked me how she could reboot her feelings of envy of other people’s lives, and importantly, how to escape the trap of comparing her life to theirs as a measure of happiness. I had some advice for her about social media which I’d like to share and expand on with you.

The main thing to try to remember is that your life is not in any way the same as someone else’s. Your life is how it is due to a distinct set of circumstances that not one other person on this planet has exactly experienced. Your life has been shaped by the many highs and lows, skills, situations, loves, hobbies, and feelings you have lived through. You and your life are absolutely unique. If you look at your life and compare it to someone else’s and somehow feel yourself lacking, remember you are trying to compare the proverbial apples and oranges. They are not the same thing!

My friend suggested spending less time on social media as a way of rebooting how she was feeling. She was jealous of her friends with their wonderful gardens, delicious meals, happy families, and amazing trips. I often see that as suggestion on web articles, saying you should unplug or go offline, but I don’t think she (or you or I) necessarily needs to spend less time on social media. It’s a great way to stay connected, but it’s necessary to view it in the right light.

Social media life

This leads to a vital point: we need to acknowledge that almost everyone’s life on social media is cultivated. It is a “best life” situation.

Think about what you post on social media yourself. With the exception of some, most people probably post exciting photos of holidays or events, lovely family situations, perfectly created meals or crafts, and fantastic selfies… all carefully checked and filtered to show the best of the best. If you don’t like how it looks (or how you think it would look to someone else!), you probably retake the photo, adjust the lighting, apply a nice filter… I know I certainly do!

And you know what? This is absolutely fine! It’s fun to play with photographs and post things you are proud or happy about. But it’s crucial to remember that most everyone else is doing the same. They are proof reading and editing their social media lives to craft you the best of the best, the things they want people to see. This is personal branding, and completely okay! Social media (like all media) is there to enjoy and consume rather than be a template for life.

Reboot your FOMO*

So bearing all this in mind, what you can do about those envious feelings?

I suggest really thinking about what you feel beneath that jealousy. Does it stem from regret, sadness, guilt? Is it because of something from your past, present or a yearning for the future?

Once you can identify the root causes of your envy, pick one thing and make a commitment to trying it yourself. For example, maybe you see photos of people’s gardens and wish you could have that but you’ve never had a green thumb, and don’t have time to make a garden anyway, plus it costs money to set up, and then you have to maintain it, and, and, and… Write down what you want. Now write down some steps to get there. Now identify who can help you – friends who might like to help you dig up your existing backyard, workmates who can share seeds and cuttings with you, forum members who can offer free advice. Then project manage that task!

As much as you might want to be amazing at everything all at once, just pick one thing at a time. We can get to multi-tasking later! I’d also like you to go back to your life accomplishments list and remember your awesomeness and how if you had that all documented on social media right now, other people would be super envious!

Defrag your life

My friend said “I think my life might need a reformat rather than just a 5 minute reboot”. If you’ll allow me to continue the computing analogy, I think a defrag is all she needs. When your computer slows down and doesn’t respond like it used to, you can run a tool to clean it up. It finds old fragmented gaps in the hard drive and pushes all the newer data up the line to make a nice tidy series of blocks. You end up with better performance because the computer isn’t trying to read those old blank spots any more.

Apply that concept to your life. Change how you look at things. Instead of focusing on those old, useless gaps in the hard drive of your life, do some maintenance and get life back to the way you want it. Now, reboot!

* “Fear of missing out”

Dealing with setbacks: positive opposites

Dealing with setbacks: positive opposites

The heavy stuff

I’ve had plenty of setbacks in my life, as I’m sure you have too. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty positive person, and I like to see the good in any situation, but there have been times where it’s been really difficult to maintain that optimistic outlook. I lost my brother when I was in my early 20s at a time where I was only just learning who I was as an adult. Losing a close friend or family member is nothing you can really understand unless you’ve experienced it. My mother referred to it today as an almost literal tearing of the heart. That grief is so powerful it really does feel like your heart will pull itself apart; it is a thick and heavy weight like someone is pushing your chest in, and your breath just won’t come. Even though it’s been nearly 18 years, it still feels that way if I let my guard down. The grief remains ever-present, threatening to well over at any moment, but I’ve learned to keep it at bay (most of the time). Since that day, I’ve experienced other losses but that is the one that really that defined my attitude towards life.

How I deal with the ups and downs of life involves an attitude that is a mixture of plan-oriented and spontaneous. As you can imagine, this can make for an interesting inner dialogue! I am a sensitive person and I am comfortable talking openly about my emotions. Despite my losses over the course of my life, I’ve kept up a pretty good emotional resilience. But there was a period of time that really threw me a curveball. In the larger scheme of life, perhaps it shouldn’t have hit me so hard, but that’s how things sometimes go. And once you’ve had a big hit, it can take a long time to feel you have that emotional fitness back. I’m only now starting to feel like myself again.

During that time, you may find that comparatively-less traumatic setbacks can be really tough to deal with. Things like not getting that job you wanted, a relationship breakdown, projects stalling or getting caught up in red tape… these can feel overwhelming when your resilience is low. If that’s you, don’t wait until you are at rock bottom, speak up and get some help. Depression is a real risk when your defenses are down, and it’s okay to not be okay. Talk to your family, friends, doctor or psychologist. There are lots of great support services that can help. Here are just a few good Australian ones:

Okay, so that’s the heavy stuff. Now I want to talk about how to deal with those sorts of setbacks when you are doing okay (mostly). If you have a planner personality – someone who thrives off lists and following a decided path – these things can really hit you for six.

Some home truths

First things first, know this: you can’t control everything. In fact, a lot of what happens to us is completely beyond our control. Anyone who thinks otherwise is probably kidding themselves! So be kind to yourself. Do your best, and know you have given it your best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not your fault.

Next you need to listen. Really listen. Listen to your friends, your partner, your manager – hear them when they say ‘You did a great job! You gave it your best! I still think you are awesome!’ This is the time to ignore your own inner critic. Sure, it helps you be a high achiever, and work hard and aim high, but when your plans don’t go your way, it can be an absolute confidence killer. In this case, tell it to shut up.

When life gives you lemons…

Get some tequila!

Don’t let these setbacks define you. See them as an opportunity: an opportunity for something you may not have considered or expected.

Take those setbacks and turn them into positive opposites! Didn’t get that job? Something else will come up (maybe it would’ve been an awful place to work!) Girlfriend broke up with you? She wasn’t the right one for you anyway (horrible taste in music!) Home renovation project has been delayed again? Oh well, don’t need to pay that deposit yet!

Maybe these seem a bit cliché and trite, but the more you can teach yourself to do this, the easier it will become to deal with setbacks of this nature. I challenge you to give it a go next time something doesn’t go to plan. Instead of getting caught up in a whirlwind of negativity, try this five minute reboot:

  • Take a minute or two to feel and acknowledge your annoyance (or sadness, anger, other emotion). It’s okay to cry, or yell, or scream internally
  • Take a long breath in, and let it out slowly
  • Now spend another minute or two to look for some kind of positive opposite to the situation (no matter how much of a stretch it might seem!)
  • Write it down or say it out loud
  • Now try a five by five exercise to reinforce that positive feeling

Tell me in the comments if this technique works for you! It does for me – I missed out on a job this week that I really wanted, and while I was sad initially, I took on board the feedback I was given, and then thought that perhaps I’m where I need to be right now. Opportunity presents in odd ways, and it’s important to being open to that – even if in this instance,  it means an opportunity to stay where I am now. Positive opposite!