Hey you lovely light being,
Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, comparing your life to the seemingly perfect lives of... well, everyone else in the world?
We all do it, perusing our news feed during mundane moments of our lives; in line for the ATM, on public transportation, while waiting for yoga class to start. We check in on our social networks to stay up to date for #FOMO, but subconsciously, we do it to feel a little less alone. Inevitably however, we end up in a vicious cycle of information consumption and a legit psychological phenomenon called social comparison. In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, psychologists found a link between time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms of study participants. Basically, the study provides evidence that comparing ourselves to others (in any direction; better, same, or worse) makes us feel like crap. Makes sense, given that all social comparison essentially reflects within each of us is a general fear of not being good enough.
Personal tidbit: just recently (ahem, the other night), I got caught up in my own downward spiral on the social media front. I found myself scrolling on and on well past midnight, until I was in a sea of endless updates, comparing myself to the younger yoga teacher with thousands of followers on Instagram, to my friends and cousins who have gotten engaged or married and are popping out babies at alarming rates (seriously though, it's out of control after you turn 30), and people I barely know who seemed to have figured out the whole entrepreneur thing writing about how they got their businesses to grow to six figures in six days or something ridiculous like that. Whatever. Needless to say, I was stuck in a rut and I needed a way out. Luckily, I was able to recognize my deteriorating state of mind and presence and gave myself a little dose of mind medicine that helped me ease up on the social comparison crapfest.
Here's the remedy I used, with a bit of an ironic twist at the end that brought me to tears.
First, unplug. Get off your devices and get back to the present moment by realizing that this moment is all you have, and is the only thing that's real and matters. Take a few deep breaths and notice what you notice around you.
Second, forgive yourself. Pause to put your hands over your heart and feel yourself filling up with a loving, compassionate energy of forgiveness for comparing yourself to others. We all do it, so you might choose to send a forgiving energy out to the world and those in your networks as well. In my old job, I found myself frequently comparing myself to my boss and coworkers, which made me miserable on so many levels until I realized that I just needed to let go of trying to be something and someone I wasn't. When I was able to forgive myself for not being the "type of person" that thrived in that work environment, I was able to liberate myself from that world and pursue my own path that focused on the things I was most passionate about, where my natural gifts and talents flowed freely.
Third, transform jealousy and comparison into inspiration. It always makes me cringe whenever I hear someone say, "That's awesome. I'm so jealous." Why project such a negative connotation onto someone sharing something great? I've found that jealousy is often a reaction people have when they feel unequipped to create a positive change or outcome in their own lives. On the flipside, I totally dig when a super human says something like, "Hey, you have a beautiful practice. I'm so inspired!" like the lovely yogini I practiced next to yesterday at Flow. Jealousy condones a sense of self-limitation, whereas inspiration implies that this person, too, can achieve whatever they put their sweet heart and mind to. Plus, inspiration keeps everybody's good juju on the up and up.
Fourth, know that you are enough. After I snapped out of my Trance of Unworthiness (as Tara Brach calls it), practiced some healing self-care, and set the intention to be inspired by my virtual and cosmic connections, I let the Universe take over to teach me how to use social media in a positive way. I sat in front of my altar with my iPad, turned it on, and found an interview on Facebook that Marie Forleo had posted last week with Colleen Saidman Yee promoting her new book, Yoga for Life. I was brought to tears as Colleen shared stories from her life about struggling with feelings of guilt, worry, and unworthiness. By the end I was in tears, and completely inspired by lessons she learned through yoga that gave her the strength to share the yogic teachings and be of service to others. It was a gem of an interview that made me feel like she was speaking directly to me. If you're interested in watching it, click here.
At the end of the interview, Colleen shared a meditation on the Buddhist meditation for working with fear that really got me sobbing. I'm talking super soaker water works, people. Check out the text of the meditation below.
Just sit. Notice where you feel hard, and sit with that.
Go to the center of the anger and you'll probably come to sadness.
Stay with the sadness until it turns to vulnerability.
Keep sitting with what comes up; the deeper you dig, the more tender you become.
Raw fear can open into the wide expanse of genuineness, compassion, gratitude, and acceptance in the present moment.
A tender heart appears naturally when you are able to stay present.
From your heart, you can see the true pigment of the sky.
You can see the vibrant yellow of the sunflower and the deep blue of your daughter's eyes.
A tender heart doesn't block out rainclouds, or tears, or dying sunflowers.
Allow both beauty and sadness to touch you.
This is love, not fear.
The funny and ironic thing was, despite the potentially negative impact social media bingeing can elicit, I never would have found that interview had it not been for the magic of the interwebs. If it weren't for social media, it would be a lot harder to keep in touch with my homestay family and friends from my volunteer service, I wouldn't get to revel in the beauty of my friends' new babies via their photos, and I probably would have had to pay full price for my new yoga bling if I hadn't reached out via comment to the owner of Rock and Raw Jewellry on Instagram! ;-)
There are so many great things we can do online when we stop comparing and start inspiring. It's all about perspective. And knowing that you, just as you are, are enough.
With a liberating kinda love,