Any health practitioner will tell you that stress AIN’T NO JOKE (it causes weight gain, migraines, illness, inflammation), and sometimes we can find it in the most unlikely of places….
When I say stress, I’m not talking about a busy work schedule or too much responsibility—circumstantial stress, although that is certainly a part of it. I’m referring specifically to stress that is created by our thinking mind, because of the constantly running to-do list fueled by the ever-growing list of SHOULDS. It is a breeding ground for anxiety and emotional stress. Example–I should be making more money. I should be a better daughter. I should be married. I should be a size 4. I should have a bigger bank account. I should be further along in my business, in my career. I should. I should. I should. Then, come the inevitable feelings of isolation. Am I the only one falling behind? Am I the only one struggling?
God, I get anxious just writing that…
In a recent study conducted by two German Universities, “researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site (Facebook) and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.” On a social platform with billions of people, there is unprecedented social comparison.
It actually prevents us from embracing our lives today and accepting ourselves because we’re constantly inundated with images and ideas that reinforce our being completely behind OTHER people’s markers for success (career, weight loss, babies, dogs, travel). Not even our own markers for success! Bring on the anxiety!
A lot of Facebook users, including myself, use it as promotional tool, as a way to paint a very particular picture of their lives, a very flattering mask. Seeing everyone’s perfect mask portrayed on a page, in a status, the created-self, rather than the completely authentic one can lead us to question our own accomplishments. Maybe this works for a company, but I find I am most interested in people who are “real” and I know I’m not alone on that.
It doesn’t feel good to put a false self out there. I know. I’ve done it. It feels like walking a tight rope and it doesn’t feel truthful. Do I look fat in that pic? Is that my best side? Will they see I’m a fraud? Oh, wait, you can see my gray hair in that one. Filter it on instagram! Even the filters are altering reality to make it look better. In posting statuses promoting my accomplishments, I have wonder sometimes, “Who I am doing this for?”
Is it marketing? Or is it because I’m simply not feeling enough today? What is the motivation behind what I’m about to post?
I realize I attempt to paint a pretty picture. That isn’t to say, my life isn’t awesome, in its own right. It is. I am incredibly fortunate and I am actually insanely grateful. But that has mostly come from changing how I view my life instead of what I have achieved. By painting my version of perfection, I’m sacrificing the ability to connect in a REAL way (however real social media is) with my friends, with my followers, with my community.
Connecting in a real way starts with vulnerability. And spoiler alert, removing the mask is stress-relieving in and of itself.
In this vein, I will share some vulnerability with you, my dearest tribe. This, is not, to say, that I am not celebrating all the good as well, but that I recognize the importance of expressing something that is a little more painful to express.
Here it is:
Despite being a health coach and helping people to cultivate a new and pleasurable relationship with food, I still have demons. There are days I still call myself fat in a dressing room. There are days I still give myself a hard time if I’ve gained a couple of pounds. I still sometimes hold on to the painful story that my body and my face approximately equal my worth and when they are feeling off-track, I’ve lost my currency for love and validation. I usually put my prettiest and skinniest picture up on Facebook. I want people to think my life is perfect, because I feel people will love me more. Only, this isn’t how love works and I know that.
The point is, I’m light years away from where I started and I’m still on a journey and what I have learned on this journey has allowed me to help countless women start their own. When “shining our lights,” we must shine the full scope of color, not just one shade. And sometimes those colors aren’t golden. Sometimes those colors are the colors of bruises, of blue or purple or green but they are beautiful just the same.
We connect by sharing our vulnerability with others (even on something like social media). Without it, we may gain admiration, but never real connection.
That is why I started my group program here in New York City, and that is why I am passionate about coming together to heal our bodies and hearts, and combining that healing with nutrition for an unstoppable relationship with our bodies.
So, how can you change your relationship with Facebook, or twitter or instagram to portray your life more authentically?
How can you take the mask off and dare to be seen?
Repost this one Facebook if it resonates with you, and challenge yourself to take the mask off in your post.
Today, I will change my profile pic in celebration of this. I will change this to one of my most meaningful picture instead of my skinniest. My status will explain (there is a little piece of vulnerability in there). Check it out on my personal Facebook page. www.facebook.com/bethwittig.
Rock On and Be Well,