Last post we looked at how you might be creating extra challenges for yourself because of underlying worthiness issues. And I told you that you have to get to the core issue: loving yourself and having a healthy self-esteem.
We are living in the greatest time in human history. Yet with all the fantastic advancement of modern society today, I believe our mental health is actually moving backward. From my work, it appears many more people today suffer from depression, insecurity and low self-esteem than ever before.
There are a few specific things that contribute to this unhealthy situation. Let’s look at them, so you are better equipped to override them.
The first is the fantasy portrayal of people in plays, movies, books, and especially television. (And it must be said: the average person in the developed world today watches five to six hours of television. Daily.) In the interest of moving the plot along, no one has to ever be bothered with using the bathroom, clipping their toenails, or suffer from moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. They just flit from adventure to adventure.
And of course in the TV world, every challenge in life is miraculously solved in 22 minutes. There’s always a caring individual with sage advice to save the day. You can’t help but watch this and subconsciously feel your own coping skills are inadequate.
The other issue with television fare is the ridiculously idealized version of reality it presents. This romanticized version of life is unattainable. Dr. Cliff Huxtable was the dad every guy wanted to be. Of course the real guy playing the role, was quite a different story.
The other big influence today is social media. Most people lose sight of the fact that most social media posts are either the “greatest hits” version of that person’s life – or often are actually designed to misdirect and paint an untrue account.
If you followed the social media posts of Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, or Kate Spade – you probably thought they had a perfect life with no challenges. It's why I never use filters, and often post bleary-eyed pix of me grousing about an early morning flight. Yes I have a blessed life. But it ain’t all peaches, moonbeams, and unicorns. So I want to show that other side as well.
How does this play out?
You woke up late, there was an accident on your route, you spilled your coffee, and now you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair, waiting for your root canal to start. So you kill time, scrolling through your Instagram feed. While you're waiting for Dr. Demento with a drill bit, all of your friends are taking delivery of their new Jag, backstage on Broadway with Hugh Jackman, or frolicking in Ibiza. And doesn’t your life suck?
A huge step towards positive self-esteem is simply recognizing that your perception that everyone else has a better life than you do is mistaken. In reality, just the fact you’re online and can read this blog puts you in a radically better quality of life than at least a billion other people on earth. And those updates your friends are posting of Facebook are not indicative of their actual reality.
Once you recognize the lie of the media and social media portrayal of life, you stop beating yourself up so much. And can process your days with a more nuanced recognition of reality. So start there. Next post we’ll look at some other self-esteem builders. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.