5 Things Every Woman Needs to Know about Instagram Envy
Instagram envy. It starts off harmless enough. You might be scrolling through your favorite social media app (be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter…) casually looking at friends’ pictures and posts when you find yourself sighing and thinking any number of negative thoughts.
Why don’t I eat beautiful food like that? Why isn’t my closet that clean? I wish my kids looked that pulled together. I wish I could be in Paris right now. Why do I have to be so fat/short/tall/pale/dark/[insert insecurity here]?
I feel that women are especially prone to insta-envy. Maybe it’s our unparalleled ability to compare ourselves to any and everything. Maybe it’s the fact that we tend to downplay our own lives, achievements, and self worth. Whatever the reason, it happens. The following are 5 helpful tips to getting through the envy and embracing it to make you a better person.
Number 1: Not only does it exist, but it affects you.
This is for people who aren’t sure if they have social media fueled envy. This is for the women that are painfully aware that they do have it. This if for everyone who thinks that Insta-envy exists for everyone else except themselves.
Despite where you fall on the spectrum, there are two common truths: Social media envy exists and it affects you.
Even my Chinchilla, Pierre, can’t hide from social media!
Our surroundings and experiences are constantly shaping our current and future actions. You may be very aware that you feel sad when you look at her (you know, that frienemy whose jet setting, gourmet foodie lifestyle you constantly lust after) grams or read her Facebook posts. Alternatively, you may feel nothing at all save from basic observations (‘that’s a pretty flower!’ ‘That restaurant looks like fun’ ‘That’s a cute child’), but even at this point, your mind is identifying what is ‘good’ (well dressed children) and filling away assumptions as to what is ‘bad’ (kids in mismatched clothes). We are always in the process of reacting to what we’ve been exposed to (ex: you are more cognizant about the pictures you take because you like seeing the beautiful pictures on your feed) and Instagram is no save haven. Which leads us to the following…
Number 2. It can make you a sad, miserable person…
…if you let it. See that second part? It’s really important. While you can’t control what your mind takes in (not completely, that is) you can control what you do with the information. When you see a friend dressed to the nines in high end designer clothing, you have a choice. You could ignore it. You could get jealous and hold a pity party (whyyy can’t I have beautiful things like that?) Or, you could react positively (that blouse really brings out the color in her eyes. I’m lucky to have such beautiful friends!) I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure which option I would choose.
Number 3: It can make you a mindful, appreciative person…
…if you let it. There it is again. Remember what I said above? The choice between positive and negative is totally up to you.
Start by targeting the cause of your envy. When you find yourself feeling jealous from a certain picture or post, ask yourself: what about this picture/post is causing the envy? Would I actually want that [insert cause of envy] even if I had it? What in my life would someone else be envious of? For the sake of example, let’s say the said envy inducing picture was a young lady in (probably skimpy) workout clothes who has a very fit body with the caption, ‘can’t wait to workout today!’ You see the picture, get jealous, and then ask yourself the above questions.
Maybe the thing causing jealousy is her fit body (that you assume you don’t have), her enthusiasm to workout, or even the fact that she looks great going to the gym (presumably…we’ll discuss that in point 5). Now, really ask yourself- would you want that fit body knowing what you have to do (workout…a lot) to get it? Would you feel comfortable showing off your body in those revealing clothes (if not, does that make a difference? Do you care more about what other people would think than about you being healthy?) Do you really wish you were super enthusiastic about working out? Or do you actually want to look like a made up model on the way to the gym? Often times, I feel like we really wouldn’t even like the point of envy if we had it. Having a super fit body may mean spending time at the gym instead of with your family. It may involve forgoing your favorite foods or restricting alcohol intake. You’d be surprised at how often we get envious over things that we really don’t care about at all.
Here’s an alternative. Instead of getting jealous, simply think about the awesome things in your life. What would other people be jealous of? Believe me, there’s always something. That roof over your head (not to mention everything under it!) would be a luxury for far too many people. What you need to do is retrain your brain. You love looking at beautiful Pinterest and Instagram pictures, right? Well, go through each day with mindfulness and really try to see the beauty around you. Often times, great grams are because the person responsible has an eye for seeing beauty in everyday things.
This was just your average Sunday at the local minor league ball park. Beautiful things (like this sky…and Coco) are all around you if you take the time to look.
If you notice a pattern in what you find envious, maybe it’s time for a change. If travel pictures make you insanely jealous, start considering what sorts of trips you can take with your time and budget (even short, weekend trips count!) If you are constantly coveting a fitter figure, get thee-self to a gym (or see a therapist if your body image concerns are extreme) and make an action plan to start eating better. When you are actively working towards a goal, you will start seeing those same posts and pics as inspiration towards said goal rather than silent shaming reminders that you aren’t working towards your dreams!
Seeing half marathon posts from my friends gave me the (unintended and very indirect) encouragement I needed to run my first half marathon. This picture is now a reminder to me what I’m capable of. (Btw- the term ‘run’ is used very loosely here. Think of it as more of a quick walk. Also- thank goodness for great filters and well placed hat shadows!)
Number 4: It can help elevate your personal brand.
You know I can’t have a post without talking about the all important personal brand! Your personal brand is what sets you apart from every other person in your office, town, state, and world. It’s what makes you, you and social media is simply an extension of your ‘you-ness’. When you feel jealousy over someone’s post, that means they have done something to elicit emotion in you. Now, turn the tables and ask yourself- ‘what kind of emotion do I elicit in other people?’ Is it joy? A hunger for knowledge? Happiness? I personally, would like for people to feel relaxed, inspired, and empowered to positive change when they are around me. For that reason, I choose to share and post positive, relate-able, and helpful (or just happy) items on social media. So, stop being jealous, start figuring out what you want people to think when they see your posts, and act accordingly. Coworkers, future bosses, clients, and your network will all be watching eagerly.
Something as simple as a to go coffee mug can help tell the world what you’re all about.
Number 5: Not everything you see is real.
This seems obvious, but a little reminder here and there is nice. A lot of grammers literally retake their pictures dozens of times to make sure everything is perfect. They Photoshop and filter their pictures far past the point of reality. While these pictures may be beautiful, they have deviated greatly from the original shot, and should probably be viewed more as art than ‘I woke up like this’ (which, you probably didn’t). Do you remember that gram from the half marathon above? While it’s not Photoshopped, I did look straight up rough in non-insta filter light…so believe me when I say not to believe everything you see. Oh, and that girl who is going to gym in full makeup? Yeah…she probably never made it there.
The big takeaway here? Use the power of Insta-envy to formulate goals (and action plans!!), become more mindful, and build your personal brand! Sure, you can delete Instagram or turn your phone off, but why do that when you could turn the tables and use it to your benefit? Now, go gett’m girl!
All Instagrams pictures are from my personal account: @leslie_friedman. The picture directly above was used on this blog with absolutely no consent from the subject. But she looks fabulous, no? I’m lucky to have such beautiful friends. 😉
*****Side Note****If you have major jealousy problems that affect your life significantly in a negative manner, you may benefit greatly from seeing a therapist or mental health professional. Likewise, seek out guidance if you have a self image that is drastically inconsistent with your peers (e.g. You think you’re fat and no one else does, you have an unhealthy obsession with traveling and wish to constantly escape your life, etc.) Additionally, if you feel that your self worth is based on the amount of positive feedback (likes, loves, etc) you receive on social media…talk it through with someone. There are trained professionals in every town who can help you retrain your brain and get the most out of life; use their expertise to start living a better, fuller life!*****************