When Instagram feeds the “I’m not enough” story: A step you can take today

Have you noticed after looking through Instagram that your inner critic grabs the microphone and is LOUD? You might find yourself unfavourably comparing yourself to others, feeding the “I’m not enough” dragon. You are definitely not alone in this.

You might find yourself comparing and criticising your:

  • Appearance, shape, weight, size, body features

  • Achievements, work, projects, income

  • Material possessions like car, home, clothes, accessories

  • Roles and relationships like parenting, friendship, family connections

  • Activities, holidays, social events, past times

  • Health (mental or physical)

  • Ability to “have it all together/under control” (Spoiler alert: No one really does!)

Sure, comparison is probably an inevitable part of being social beings, however never before have we had such constant and all pervading encouragement to compare right in the palm of our hands. Most of us have our phones close by all day, providing a steady stream of other people’s carefully curated highlight reels. Ouch.

So what’s the problem with not feeling good enough?

Without good coping tools, this distress can fuel harmful behaviours such as: dieting, overexercising, compulsive shopping, social withdrawal, body checking, perfectionism, overworking… There are so many ways we humans desperately try to prove our own ‘enoughness’.

How to spot problematic posts and accounts

You’ll know an Instagram post or account is not right for you if it:

  • Increases your self-criticism

  • Triggers unkind or hurtful comparison

  • Repeatedly plays over and over in your mind

  • Makes you feel embarrassed or ashamed about yourself

  • Compels you to inspect photos of yourself

  • Encourages thoughts about dieting, cutting out foods, eating less

  • Leads to the desire to weigh or measure yourself

  • Makes you want to exercise as compensation, penance, or punishment (rather than for enjoyment)

  • Inspires choices or behaviours that you know are not in line with your values and/or are not good for you

  • Leaves you feeling “ick” or “bleh” or you might have your own way to recognise these posts!

I’m talking about your experience and your feelings in this, however it’s important to recognise that it’s not your fault, and you are not being “too sensitive”. You are not alone in feeling these things. Social media is a hotbed for triggering insecurity because that’s an easy way to sell. If we feel like we are a problem, then there’s a ‘solution’ to ‘fix’ us, which is why drumming up insecurity has become the main tactic of marketing. You are not the problem, and your feelings about social media are not the problem. Social media accounts that prey on people’s insecurities, perpetuating stigma and exclusion, are the problem.

Social media is a hotbed for triggering insecurity because that’s an easy way to sell. If we feel like we are a problem, then there’s a ‘solution’ to ‘fix’ us.

There are a number of tools we can use to manage the distress that arises when we compare ourselves to others. In this post I’ll be covering the first (and easiest!) step you can take today. I’ll cover some other tools in a future post so please visit again soon.

When Instagram leaves you feeling like you’re not enough:

The first (and easiest!) step to managing it

Take control of your social media feed

  • Unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself

  • Follow accounts that recognise us all to be the imperfect, diverse, flawed humans that we are

Social media certainly has many negatives, however one of the most wonderful positives is that you have a lot of control over the curation of your own feed. You can unfollow, unfriend, hide, report, block in order to keep social media safe for you. I love to report all the diet based advertisements as “offensive” or a “scam” when they pop up, and now my social feeds are blissfully (almost) diet free. It’s empowering to take control of your feed and make it a more positive place for yourself.

So who are some of the accounts to follow who will support you in feeling enough exactly as you are right now?

Instagram accounts I recommend:

These Instagram accounts are ones I follow. No before and after body transformations, no diets, no pretending to have everything perfectly under control, no body shaming, and plenty of messages to support self-compassion…

Sure, comparison is probably an inevitable part of being social beings, however never before have we had such constant and all pervading encouragement to compare right in the palm of our hands.

If you would like to take the microphone away from your inner critic and let self-compassion lead instead, please get in touch as I'd love to work with you.

 

by Jodie Arnot

Jodie is a registered counsellor with a Masters in Counselling from Monash University. She provides counselling via telephone, Skype, and in person, and is passionate about helping women to feel good about themselves so they can live a life they adore.