Counsellor Sarah Barr looks at what to do when your social media world impacts on your self esteem.

We live in a social media frenzied world.

So creating and maintaining an online presence is now a priority for many of us, whether it is for social or for business needs.

Yet the downside is we can become very lost, isolated and lonely in this world.

Our human need to be accepted can sometimes stop us being our real self. We fear reaction, so we hide behind our social media self, our smiling profile mask.

We follow, like and share, we study and match, we aim for that ‘perfect’ life.

We believe the hype. We want to be happy and to have that perfect life.

However “perfect” does not always exist.

By putting these high expectations on yourself, you can lose sight of what you have. You can lose your focus. You forget what you have now, was once what you wished for.

Perception is everything, especially in the social media world.

We all have an ideal self. We all wish to maximise our careers, to be successful, to be a supermom and to have it all.

The social media world continues to evolve and so does our ideal self. We have so many platforms to show off our ideal self: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn etc.

It’s important no matter what platform you use to remember what we see on social media is not always real.

The perception of a clean house, for example, may, in reality, be just a clean corner of the room.

The perception of a wrinkle/spot free face may be a filter.

We can create perceptions and we all can be guilty of this.

Yet it is when these perceptions of our ideal self begin to interfere and take over our real self, it is then negative feelings can arise such as anxiety, low mood and a lack of confidence and self-worth.

Research suggests, your “real self” is who you are: your attributes, your characteristics and your personality.

Your “ideal self” is what you feel you should be; mainly influenced by societal and environmental factors. Many of us are driven by competition, achievement and status. This leads to the creation of our “ideal self” or “social media self”.

On social media platforms we consider our profiles to be a representation of who we are. The ideal self can be “real” through the eyes of social media as we delete and hide many of our flaws.

Through social media photos and posts, we invite friends into our world’”.

We paint the best picture of our lives, seeking approval and praise.

The question we have to ask ourselves is:

“Are we really showing who we are or are we showing an ideal version of ourselves?”

It has been argued that social media can create a false sense of self and self-esteem through the use of likes, comments, posts, etc. It is a confidence booster, but often short-lived.

If you find social media is having a negative impact on your esteem and you are feeling unsure of your identity, take a look at these three points:

1. Stop Comparing.

When you compare yourself to other people, you are comparing yourself to the perception of what you think that person is.

In reality, many people are only showing their ideal self online. Therefore, you are comparing yourself to an ideal person.

Comparison ONLY serves to make you feel worse about yourself.

Remember we do not know what the real story is behind the picture, we do not know what anyone else is thinking and dealing with each day.

2. Be Authentic.

Stay true to your real self.

Figure out what traits make you unique.

This can be hard to do sometimes, so make a note of the traits below that YOU have and remind yourself daily of them:

Adventurous – Ambitious – Assertive – Brave – Calm – Considerate – Creative – Dedicated – Determined – Directive – Easygoing – Empathetic – Energetic – Fair – Flexible – Friendly – Generous – Grateful – Happy – Hard Working – Honest – Humorous – Imaginative – Independent – Intelligent – Listener – Lively – Logical – Loving – Loyal – Nurturing – Open-Minded – Optimistic – Organised – Patient – Polite – Practical – Proactive – Problem-Solver – Punctual – Reliable – Resourceful – Responsible – Self-confident – Sincere – Spontaneous – Strong – Successful – Supportive – Tactful – Trusting – Warm

Do not be afraid to show who you really are.

3. Integrate your “Real” self with your “Ideal” self.

If you are portraying yourself as an ideal figure or with an ideal career, why not work towards those goals to achieve your ideal status?

Create a dream/vision board with your ideal goals.

Everything in life worth doing takes time, effort, energy, and persistence. So why not start today?

“Have you ever felt it difficult to be your true self?”

“Worried about being judged or talked about?”

“Find it easier to fit in with what is deemed ‘normal’ than to stand out?”

If so, you’re not alone.

It can be difficult to be authentic in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. You may believe that your real self is not good enough or appropriate

Counselling can help you rediscover your real self and increase your confidence. I offer counselling in Letterkenny, Derry and Moville. Check out my Facebook page to book or for further details.

Alternatively as part of the Minding Mammy Workshop, one of our topics is on Social Media Comparison. Our next workshop is starting Monday 25th, September in Letterkenny.

“Be courageous to live the life you want. This type of empowerment gives you inner strength to build your self-confidence. If you are focused on being true to you, your fears will no longer be the driving force in your life”.

Take Care ~ Sarah.