Sarah Barr from the New Beginnings Counselling Service looks at comparison in a social media frenzied society.
I am a woman, in a changing and ever-evolving society. I set up my own practice New Beginnings, to help raise awareness about issues surrounding women and mental health.
This is a real illness, and it is okay not to feel okay and it is okay to ask for help.
There are many people available within our community who want to help. The biggest step is asking for it.
My goal through this column is to help spread the word about mental health illnesses throughout Donegal – to enable and empower women if they are feeling down or worried to get help.
Every two weeks, I will focus on a different topic, in relation to women, mental health and society.
As women, we need to help each other, show kindness and work towards changing old-fashioned beliefs towards mental illness.
Social Media You versus The Real You
We are living in a social media frenzied society, where every aspect of ourselves is often laid bare, open for judgement and critique.
We follow trends, we compete and we exhaust ourselves in showing the world that we are in control, we are coping and we are the ones who are doing it right. Or at least this is what we want others to believe.
Through social media photos and posts, we invite friends into our ‘world’. We paint the best picture of our lives, seeking approval and praise.
Leon Festinger proposed his “social comparison” theory in 1954. He argued that we as humans have a desire to evaluate our own abilities and performance.
We often unfairly compare ourselves to others to see how we measure up. Often these comparisons are unrealistic and unachievable. As we are consumed by celebrities, how they look, how they act etc. This can have a negative impact on our self-confidence.
We may lose ourselves, our confidence and our belief in who we are. Anxiety and depression may result, further pushing us down into a negative state of mind.
At times to show the world we are ‘fine’ and ‘coping’, we put on our mask. Our happy, smiling mask. Safe in the knowledge no-one will really know what I am thinking and feeling.
Through speaking to friends, clients and mothers this is a reality in our world. Which we do not like to talk about. It is okay to feel this way, it is normal. It is a sign of strength to acknowledge a mental health illness and to take action to heal yourself.
After all, if you had a broken leg, would you go to the hospital?
Image via The OP Life