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Living life behind the lens, feeling compelled to post the details of your life, is exhausting. If you’re ready to stop seeking approval from social media this article is for you.
Social media: an integral part of our experiences
Say Cheese! A fun day with friends, an outing with the kids, a vacation, all experienced from behind the lens of your smartphone. The pictures have almost become part of the activity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have documented memories, but let’s be real, who are the pictures for? We’ve become so busy posing and posting, looking and liking, it’s as if we can only enjoy things when we boast about them to our social media networks. What is this phenomenon and what can we do about it?
Why do we seek approval from social media & “Likes”?
In our digitally driven age, we’ve begun to seek approval from the peanut gallery all too often. What might start as innocent fun and sharing pictures with friends can quickly turn into looking for a way to boost self esteem. Ironically, however, the posting itself can actually cause low self esteem.
It can be fun taking pictures and sharing them with everyone. The more we do this though, the more it becomes almost as if something didn’t happen if we don’t get insta-worthy pictures of it. Additionally, if we don’t get enough “likes,” we might feel bad about ourselves or think less about the pictures or experience. We begin relying on the superficial boost of dopamine we get when we count up “likes” and feel gratified only when we have “x” amount of views. It can quickly become addictive, which is why we find ourselves posting more and more.
Because of the artificial rush we get when someone “likes” or views our posts, we may end up sharing personal pictures with strangers. From there, our standards of privacy start to dissolve or diminish altogether. The likes and views become more important than protecting the privacy of our family, friends, and ourselves. Once we’re stuck in this social media approval seeking trap, it’s so easy to forget how to enjoy a good time with family or friends just for the sake of spending time with our loved ones. All of a sudden we have a hard time enjoying ourselves without posting and sharing all the time.
How to change this: finding intrinsic satisfaction
Finding intrinsic satisfaction in our personal lives and experiences is the foundation of avoiding this social media approval seeking slippery slope. This can be done by doing the following:
- Finding something sacred in keeping our outings or vacations private
- Considering what is special about spending time with our family and friends
- Focusing on the internal reward quality time or unique experiences alone provide
Constantly looking for outside approval ultimately cheapens our experiences. It becomes about the post views, and we lose sight of the intrinsic reward that comes from spending quality time with people we cherish. Perpetual posting and sharing also puts us in the position of always seeking more views, more likes, and more followers, negatively affecting our self esteem and overall life satisfaction.
The goal then is to shift the focus from looking for others’ approval (and, dare I suggest, envy?) to confirm that our life is great. Once we change this, we will have an easier time feeling happy and content with our own approval, satisfaction, and appreciation of an experience.
Practical tips to stop seeking approval from social media:
It’s difficult to change. Rewiring our brain to break a habit is hard. If you’re used to always snapping pictures and instagram is your first love, these tips are for you.
1Be patient with yourself:
It takes about 21 days to build a new habit. It will take a lot longer than that for new behaviors to become automatic, but until at least about 3 weeks it will still feel unnatural.
2Make it harder for yourself to post on, or check, your “go to” social media platform:
Remove your most used social media apps from your phone, and/or disable or delete your accounts. At the very least turn off your notifications and /or place the app in a harder to locate place on your phone. You can also use an app to help limit your social media use. For starters read this article on the 7 Best Apps That Block Social Media On iPhone And Android.
Set goals and reinforce them. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Perhaps if you go all day or week without checking or posting, treat yourself to something special.
4Reflect on where this behavior/need comes from:
Are you simply bored and/or are using social media to feel artificially connected with people? Perhaps you need to find other healthier and authentic outlets to fill these needs. This is a great topic to explore in personal therapy, with a coach, or with a trusted friend or mentor.
5Focus on the here and the now:
Try to concentrate on the happy feelings at the time of the experience you’re compelled to share on social media. Take a second to really hone into how you’re feeling in the moment. What about the experience feels good to you? Concentrate long enough to make a “picture memory.” You can sear the moment into your mind without taking out your camera. Chances are you will remember and savor it more positively and for longer than you would have had it been just another post on your feed.
FACT: When you stop seeking approval from social media you start enjoying the moment
There’s something special about keeping things to yourself, not having to share it with everyone. Not all your trips and/or pictures are meant for all your contacts or connections to see. You can come to appreciate the intrinsic satisfaction an experience rewards when you focus on why something is enjoyable to you rather than why other people will see and perhaps “like” it.
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