Though this is a ridiculously posed picture, I really like the stated message. In my opinion, a more accurate picture would be 6 macarons (minimum), no leaves (I mean c’mon, why are they even there?!), maybe a plate (but if we are being honest…no plate), a glass of milk (nom), a couch and Netflix (yasss). Okay, sorry, back to the message.
ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS.
Well ain’t that the darn truth. But honestly, easier said than done. Enjoying the little things in a world that is so focused on the external, on the new, on the go, and on to better things even though what you have in front of you is so damn good, is really hard to do.
What makes it even harder is how difficult it is to have things in your life that you do treasure and not posting them on social media (because we all know that social media cycle oh so well).
Okay so imagine this, you’re on a wonderful vacation with your family (honestly having a blast and treasuring all the little things in life) but then you get some down time and start scrolling through your feed. You see Sally’s picture of a gift her boyfriend got her and how lucky she is to have him in her life, Allen posts a photo at the bar with his buds (having a blast), and you see all sorts of random people’s engagements photos. Then you start to think I wonder what they think I am doing right now…they probably don’t think I am doing anything, but why should I even care about that because I am doing something and making memories with my family and then…
Next thing you know you post a picture of your beautiful family on vacation with an oh so clever caption and emoji combination and start reeling in the likes.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I love social media and think it serves more good in the world than not, but I question the motives behind posts sometimes.
Do you ever feel like you are completely failing at this whole “don’t compare yourself to others” thing?!
It’s kind of a sneaky thing and none of us intend to fall into its trap. But we do. We all have difficulties brushing off those uncomfortable feelings when they arise. Sometimes that quick scroll through Instagram can leave us feeling jealous and feeling less satisfied with our lives.
If you feel like you are struggling with this, keep reading, because I have some tips for you to stop yourself before falling face first into the trap.
Tip 1- Notice your thoughts
Take note of your thoughts, more importantly your automatic thoughts. For example, when your scrolling (and mindlessly liking things) and thinking “I wish I had more money to travel like Jim”, or “I’ll never get as many likes as him”, or “How did she afford that? We make the same and I can’t buy that”. By taking note, and maybe even writing these thoughts down (to see how ridiculous they are) you will then be able to confront the thoughts and start working through them.
Tip 2- Acknowledge your beliefs
As you review your automatic thoughts, look deeper into what meanings are attached to them. For example, “no one ever likes or comments on my selfies, that must mean I am ugly”. Deeper meaning here- maybe you are (or have been for a while) struggling with self-confidence surrounding your appearance and need to do some self-care and acceptance around that topic.
Tip 3- Find the trap
Beware! Heads up and don’t fall into the trap! Unhelpful thoughts almost always stop us in our tracks. Some of the most common ones are: jumping to conclusions, black and white thinking, predicting the future, what if scenarios, assuming you are a mind reader, overgeneralizing, focusing on the negatives etc.
Tip 4- Evidence
Refer back to step 2 and see what factual evidence (like real facts, not distorted belief patterns) supports or refutes your unhelpful thoughts. Usually there aren’t a lot of factual evidence (usually a lot of distorted beliefs that we have convinced ourselves are facts) in these situations, so let’s keep on moving to the next step.
Tip 5- Reframe
Consider an alternate lens and look at your thoughts in another way. Challenge your beliefs and other aspects of the current frame. Some examples are: a weakness is now a strength, a distant possibility as a near possibility, unkindness as a lack of understanding, a problem as an opportunity, etc.
Next time you find yourself impulsively posting on social media or falling prey to one of these thought traps be curious about it and take the time to explore and honor your thoughts. The more time you spend embracing the uncomfortable through the abovementioned process, you will be able to move beyond the comparison game and truly be able to enjoy the little things in life.
Written by: Shannon Gonter, LPCC, NCC
I specialize in working with men and young adults. I am passionate about my career and want to work with you to create positive change. I also strive to create a counseling environment where men and young adults can relate, feel heard, and find new solutions to their negative patterns. Some issues that I most commonly work with are stress, relationship issues, difficulty saying “no” to others, difficulties recognizing emotions and emotionally connecting to others, anger, and intimacy issues, among others.