You’re having one of those days where you get sucked into social media feeds. And you’re scrolling and clicking away, generating negative thoughts on what you’re seeing. Do you even notice?
That’s what I thought. Doing this has a name. It’s called negative thinking. Fancy stuff, eh?
Here are a few examples of negative thoughts while scrolling. It took me about five seconds to come up with this list, because I have negative thoughts too:
- Everyone is doing better than I am
- She got a book deal/big agent/award/big story published and I did not
- I’m never going to be as good a photographer as she is
- She has so many more followers than I do
- He’s always so clever on Twitter and I’m not
- So much is happening and I’m missing out.
I’m not talking about doomscrolling, which is when you keep surfing through depressing or sad news. It’s more about feeling envy, jealousy, or competitiveness.
But it’s not the end of the world to have negative thoughts. It’s not that hard to change a pattern that doesn’t serve you.
How do you counter negative thoughts while on social media? Three ideas:
1. Notice them. That’s always the first step. If you don’t even notice that you’re beating yourself up with this negativity, you can’t make headway. You might get caught up in a cycle that leads to more negativity. But if you do notice, you can work on it and more easily let go of negative thoughts, or direct your attention elsewhere (Fun cat videos! Or actual work!).
2. Counter with positive thoughts. Instead of just negative thoughts, why not add some positive ones? High levels of positive thoughts correlate with higher levels of happiness. Do we compliment ourselves regularly? No. Try some of these: I’m doing so well with social media. I am not at the bottom of the pile. I have had three successes lately (name them).
You might not know what to say at first, or this might feel phony. That’s okay. Keep noticing and responding positively. You could also say, “So what if I don’t have the same size following?” or something like that.
3. Counter with gratitude. Be grateful for all you have achieved. If you have a bio somewhere, read it and be impressived with yourself. Appreciate the people who believe in you and love to respond to whatever you post.
That’s it. I’m no therapist, but doing these three things work for me. I learned them from a free online course I recommend all the time, called The Science of Happiness.
It’s worth trying to do something about your negative thinking patterns, because otherwise they can lead to burnout and decreased levels of self esteem. And I don’t know about you but I don’t need more issues to deal with this year!
What works for you? We could all use more tips these days.
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(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.)