First of all, I love Instagram. But we can't deny it has faults. I recently read an article from Times Magazine, explaining how Instagram is stripping away confidence from women and girls. Although we're all becoming aware of these mental health problems from social media, nobody is solving the REAL issue: how to we fix it? Did you know there are actually ways to develop your brain to become more bullet-proof against these images? Based on clinical studies, you can actually learn how to protect your self-esteem from Instagram.
Mindset 1: “See what you want to see”
The first and easiest way to filter out the negativity on Instagram is simple: stop following people who make you feel badly. If everyday you’re seeing images of photo-enhanced perfection, you’re training your brain to view this as normal. It's not.
Scientifically, this type of brainwashing is real! It’s called the brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS). It controls our focus, deciding what strikes our attention and what gets ignored as unimportant fluff. If you want to train your brain to be positive, from now on, only follow people who represent positive things like creativity, family and health. Overtime, you'll feel more confident because that’s the message you’re constantly sending your brain.
I've used this strategy for filtering out negativity. From body shamers or hateful comments on my You Tube channel, the world is filled with criticism. But I choose to ignore it all and only accept my own truth: that I love life. Once you create this barrier, nothing else matters more than your own personal standards.
Mindset 2- An image is just an image
Another way to protect your self-esteem from Instagram is to understand that an image is just an image. It’s just a bunch of pretty pixels, edited and shot in perfect lighting. Images don’t define you-- they capture a moment.
When models or superstars capture their moments in a way that’s not realistic, we are not required to copy or compete with that ideal. If suddenly, the new celebrity trend was to get a PhD, would you go back to school for 10 years? Probably not-- because it’s different. Women are usually feeling pressured by the superficial images. So why place a higher value on appearance? Only you have the power to choose what matters most. Choose right.
Mindset 3- Beauty is more complex than just looks
Beauty, on the surface level, is truthfully not as important. You might be rolling your eyes but consider these viewpoints and then reconsider. Inner beauty becomes more desirable because of perception-- back to the idea of seeing what you want to see. It’s the same reason why every mother sees their son as beautiful or why a new pair of shoes can make your old-favorites seem boring.
Perception is extremely powerful. In a blog post written for the dumblittleman.com, the writer talks about how perception influenced how he fell in love with his ex. “When I first set eyes on her, I thought she was nothing special. But then I spotted her dancing... suddenly, she was the sexiest woman in the venue. My perception flipped within minutes.”
Biologically, inner beauty is more important because people will ultimately fall in love with a spirit-- not only an image. According to neuroscientist Dr.Steven Brown , "an assessment of whether an object is “good for me” or “bad for me" depends very strongly on what my current physiological state is." He confirms that an appreciation of beauty is based on an individual's perception of a whole: mind and spirit-- not just appearance. So, instead of focusing on how to change your looks, you should be focusing on enhancing your soul and being healthy.
Mindset 4- Life matters in reality, not online
Your enjoyment of life should NOT be measured by your number of followers or likes. If you enjoy Instagram, it should be because you like expressing yourself and appreciating the happiness of others. But it shouldn’t be because you’re trying to prove your worth. True fulfillment comes from validating yourself in real life-- not in an online universe.
For the future, use your precious time to focus on positive achievements such as fitness, cooking or exploring. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone that you’re amazing in order to be amazing. And if someone doesn’t appreciate you because your followers are few, that person is not worthy to judge you. They are being follower-- not a true friend.
It saddens me that a social media platform, meant to be a positive place to share our passions and memories, has become something so bad for self-esteem. But you don’t need to feel this way!Never spend another day worrying about Instagram. There are so many incredible experiences and learning moments awaiting you in this lifetime-- don’t waste it by underestimating your value. Use Instagram only as a tool for self-expression, not to define who you are. True happiness is yours to control.