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How social media triggers us and what to do

Much has already been written and talked about how social media influence our lives. I use them myself, especially for my practice, because it is an easy way to be visible and, for example, to share this article with many people I would otherwise not reach. Like everything, social media have advantages and disadvantages. In this article I would like to focus on one aspect that I think is particularly important and has a great impact on our well-being: the loss of sight of our inner self.

The problem of social media

We live in a time in which we are called upon from all corners and ends to do what others do. We know more about the lives of others than ever before, we have insight into the living rooms of people whom we personally do not know or only fleetingly know.

And as we scroll through various social media on our smartphones, seeing beautiful homes, lovely children, funny cats, successful businessmen and beautiful, slim fellow human beings, it happens that we compare ourselves with each and every one of them. And even if we had never thought about getting a cat, we may feel bad not to have one at that moment, because life with cats seems to be fun.  We feel bad because our children don’t want to eat vegetables, because our sofa is not extendable and we can’t manage to let plants survive long enough to have time to take a photo with them and post it. We are constantly confronted with what others have, and direct our gaze away from ourselves.

The key to everything in life is to look inside ourselves – at dynamics and movement, needs, strength, resources and everything that makes us what we are. The view within us is the contact with our core being.

How should I know myself when I focus on others? How should I do things my own way if my behaviour is a copy of the behaviour of others? How should I lead an authentic life when I orientate myself towards others? How should I know what my needs are when I listen to what others say my needs should be?

A world full of individuals

The world is a place full of individuals. Everyone is born unique. This uniqueness often gets lost along the way. We learn to adapt, to copy others and to orientate ourselves on role models. But nothing that is part of us can ever be lost. It can wither and retreat, we can forget about it, but if we remember it, it is there. And with care and love we can bring it out again, let it blossom and grow. Pausing allows us to progress and grow, because we give space to our own and to what is important for us personally. No matter how buried your core of being may be in expectations, attachments, entanglements and opinions, it is there and it is what you are anyway, while in addition you fulfil expectations.

Using social media differently

It is your core of being that makes you exactly you. And the world needs exactly you and not another Alexandra, Maria, Betty or anyone else. When you are connected to your core of being, you are in your power. And let’s be honest: how beautiful is it to see someone in his power? Beautiful in my opinion!

And what would it be like if each and every one of us were connected to the core of our being and in its power? If all that we see in the social media is not a reason to question and compare our own lives, but if we can distance ourselves from it and see it for what it is: a status statement of a person at a certain time. And how about then making a short status statement of yourself. I’m sitting in the underground right now because I’m going to a meeting with a friend who is going to put a smile on my face. Or: I’m lying on the couch, dog-tired from work, but noticing how the stress is slowly falling away and I feel like reading.

Intentions are usually completely different from their interpretation

People don’t usually post their photos to tell you: this is the life you should be leading. They usually post it to say: I saw a beautiful sunset by the sea, I have a well-deserved week’s holiday, I’m having a delicious drink with my best friend, my cat is so cute, I want the whole world to see it. The thoughts that can come up while looking at the pictures, the feeling of inferiority, the dissatisfaction with your job/life/apartment are topics that are slumbering and want to be looked at by the person they are concerning: you. The pictures, videos, etc. trigger us when we are not at peace with something. To demonise social media in itself for their existence is a simple but not effective way. The most effective is to ask yourself three questions:

1. what is it that has been triggered in me?
2. why was it triggered?
3. how can I come to peace with it? And what can I do about it?

With these three questions you direct your gaze inwards to what you want to be seen. Then peace can return and you can see what you really feel: that your children don’t eat broccoli but are excited about tomatoes, that you don’t have time for a cat and cat videos are enough, that your couch reminds you of your flat share times and that it motivates you to see what others create for themselves.