How often have you scrolled through your social media feed and admired a friend’s vacation photos, workout details or flawless selfies, only to find yourself depressed or anxious about not measuring up? It’s time to reframe perceived flaws and look for the strengths that may emerge.
No such thing as perfect
Perfectionism has serious implications for mental health, but you don’t have to be a perfectionist to feel the pervasive pressure from social media, where photos are filtered and chosen carefully to highlight the most enviable moments.
If you’re ready to embrace your own imperfections, both online and off, try some of these coping skills.
Take a moment each day to appreciate some aspect of your body. Say thanks to your strong thighs for carrying you on a hike or your lungs for breathing in oxygen even as you sleep.
Discover your superpower
Try reframing perceived flaws and look for the strengths that may emerge.
Sharon Blady was able to embrace her anxiety disorder by harnessing its strengths. Anxiety has always caused her to think things through to long-range and disastrous conclusions. Knowing her brain has a predisposition to this, she now works at refocusing that energy to do strategic long-term planning. Blady has come to think of her mental health issues as superpowers that give her a unique edge in her career.
Delaney Coelho was diagnosed at age 27 with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was relieved to finally understand why her brain works differently than some others do. Now Coelho says she is proud of the traits that allow her to thrive in a fast-paced environment or find solutions where others see only chaos.
Three key elements of self-compassion are mindfulness, a sense of common humanity and self-kindness.
Mindfulness helps us be aware of the suffering we’re experiencing. Common humanity provides comfort when we realize that others struggle in similar ways. Self-kindness is the act of directing caring thoughts toward oneself. Examples include saying, “I accept myself as I am” or simply, “I forgive myself.” With practice, this three-step approach to self-compassion will become more instinctive.
Strive to show your authentic self
It may be scary to admit we’re not perfect, but sometimes just doing it is the only way to cope with the fear of being found out. Can you share something honest on social media about a mistake you made or a serious challenge in your life? Would you post an unflattering and unfiltered photo that captures a funny or happy memory? Try making your social media posts more authentic and see what happens.
Take a social media break
Take an occasional vacation from social media. A steady stream of other people’s carefully curated highlight reels makes it hard to change your own thinking. Have coffee with a trusted friend or go for a walk instead, taking time to notice how beautiful nature is in all its imperfections.