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Written by Connie Stapleton, Ph.D
on July 26, 2018

Self esteem is the confidence an individual has in their own ability to achieve their goals, how they quantify their self worth, and how much self respect they have. We all go through periods when we have high self esteem and periods when we have low self esteem, fluctuating, most often, as a result of environmental factors. As our time is increasingly being spent on social media, it is no surprise individuals more frequently experience periods of low self esteem.

Social Media as the Culprit

Social media is quite deceiving; people only post photos of them "living their best life"—traveling, hanging out with friends, looking flawless. Despite knowing that your social media "friends" are posing as if their life is AMAZING, it is hard to not feel a pang of jealousy and begin comparing your life and your looks to theirs. 

When you look at social media posts, what sort of thoughts do you most often have?

1. Do you compare your life negatively? "I wish my life was as clean and tidy as theirs"  |  "If only I had a great husband like that."  |  "My kids never do those sorts of things for me."  |  "My bariatric surgery was clearly not done right...she had the same procedure and lost twice as much weight."


2. Do you belittle yourself? "I never looked that good, even on my best day."  |  "Why can’t I get myself to exercise?"  |  "That’s the kind of house I always wanted to live in; I knew I could never make my dreams come true."  |  "I look like a wrinkled up old prune after losing so much weight compared to everyone else.

3. Do you become snarky? "I can’t believe anyone would pay for that much cosmetic surgery."  |  "Even  I would look better in those pants than she does."  |  "That husband she brags about all the time has never been faithful to her."  |  "She’s showing off her new figure now, but give her some time and she’ll gain most of that weight back."

positive thoughts social media comparisons4. Do you rejoice in other people’s good experiences? "I'm so glad they finally got to take that vacation they worked so hard for."  |  "How wonderful she got the promotion after working there for such a short time."  |  "You can tell that she really loves her family by the joy in their faces."  |  "My best friend has kept off almost twice as much weight as I have. She’s worked so hard for that and I am so proud of her.

Analyzing Your Social Media Thoughts

1. Do you compare your life negatively? How we feel about ourselves is often communicated by our inner dialogue. When we look at social media, if our thoughts become filled with envy about how we wish our lives were the way other people’s lives “seem,” it could be that you approach life from a “one-down” perspective. This means you think “everybody else” has life better than you do. You think your life is somehow “less” than theirs. It might mean you see yourself as a “victim” of life, or “trapped” by your circumstances.

2. Do you belittle yourself? When you look at other people’s social media posts, do you put yourself down? Do you engage in negative self-talk in your mind? As with the above, this sort of negative thinking will lead to you feeling even worse about yourself. When you feel bad about yourself, do you engage in unhealthy eating or other unhealthy behaviors? Work on changing that thinking! Be kind to yourself. Choose to be grateful for what your body can do and what you are able to do in your life! You’ll feel better – and treat your body better as a result.

3. Do you become snarky? Snarky thoughts or comments when you’re looking at social media usually point to low self esteem.  We put others down or criticize them when we don’t feel very good about ourselves. It’s true that we have a lot of examples on television showing “snarky” attitudes as the norm. However, if you want to be your best self, then stay away from being critical of others. Even more importantly, STOP CRITICIZING YOURSELF! The only way to feel better about yourself is to think and talk better about yourself!

4. Do you rejoice in other people’s good experiences? If you are able to look at social media and be happy for other people’s “good” lives, it probably means you are content with yourself and your life. That’s a great place to be in life. This is a sign of healthy self-worth and acceptance of who you are and where you are in life.

One of the first steps to changing your negative thoughts and feelings toward yourself, is identifying those events that trigger your negative thinking. Below is a FREE download for a Thought Log to track your thoughts and their consequential series of events.

Click meLet your thoughts about social media be a guide to informing YOU of your own self-worth. After all, when you are working toward losing weight and more importantly, in order to stay at a healthy weight, you need to think and talk in kind ways to yourself! Start paying attention and in the next blogs posts, I’ll talk about ways to improve your self-esteem when you look at social media every day!

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