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How to Use Social Media for Inspiration, Not Comparison

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor

Is social media as “bad for you” as its reputation suggests? Is it possible that it comes with great power and therefore must also come with great responsibility? Peter Parker would probably agree.

I remember having a conversation with my therapist a few months back. She was telling me she had just gotten Tik-Tok even though she had been resisting it because she uses the other forms of social media enough.

I agreed with her and said I feel like I’m always scrolling on Facebook, and I don’t understand Tik-Tok. She said she didn’t understand the appeal either, but she sees a lot of young clients and was looking for a way to connect with them. That seemed like a way to use social media’s power for good.

A few weeks later, we were talking about all the time she had spent watching puppy and baby videos on Tik-Tok. She said they lifted her spirits, released endorphins, and just made her happy. I mean, that can’t be bad, right?

We should exercise, in part, because it releases endorphins. Watching puppy videos isn’t doing drugs, so why does social media take so much heat? Can you use it for inspiration and motivation? I think you can, and the secret is to not get caught up in the temptation of comparing yourself to everyone else on there.

5 ways social media can inspire or motivate yourself and others

1. Share your inspirational stories, or read stories from other people

I find so many stories on social media about crazy things people have gone through, and I am always reminded of just how much strength a human being can show. Sometimes, I cry when I read these stories. Other times, I feel like I can do anything. Both emotions are helpful when it comes to being inspired or moved.

I also use social media to share content I have written about my childhood. I had a traumatic and abnormal youth, and I believe sharing my journey with those who have experienced or are currently experiencing similar things lets them know that there is hope and they are not alone.

There are many other people who have gone through things I can’t even fathom, and I come across their words on social media when I need a reminder of my own.

2. Find support or offer some to others who might be struggling

Social media is how so many conversations happen in today’s world, and those conversations can offer us some support when we need it. We can also see whenever someone else is struggling and offer to help if we are able. Beyond that, though, social media has the added benefits of “groups.”

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I am in a support group on Facebook for people who have had the same weight loss surgery I did. It is a great place to figure out if something is a “normal” symptom. It also lets me help answer questions or share things I went through with others who are considering the same path.

I am also in a mental health group, where the owner checks in, shares valuable resources, and people can post if they need some help. There is a group for just about anything, whether you are looking for one because you need it, or because you have information you want to spread to others!

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ― Dalai Lama

3. Add accountability to your goals or hold other accountable to theirs

When you share what you are working on (or toward) on your social media platforms, it puts it out there for everyone you know to see. Trust me, they will ask you about it and help keep you accountable.

For instance, I mentioned months ago that I had enrolled in a professional life coaching program, and I’ve had several friends reach out and see how that is going. Have you asked a friend how they are doing with a goal they posted?

I bet you have, and when you do, you are helping them stay accountable. Of course, whenever you are setting a goal, remember to keep it SMART. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Sharing those goals with people also helps family and friends who you might not see frequently feel like they are involved in your life and gives them an easy topic to reach out and start a conversation about.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” — Pablo Picasso

4. Recharge yourself with a brief distraction or provide one for someone

According to Nir Eyal’s article on Psychology, Today distractions can be good because they help ease pain, depending on the type of distraction it can reduce cravings for things like drugs and fatty foods, and they can recharge our system so we are better prepared to tackle challenges in the future. If you are trying to break a habit, a distraction might be just the ticket!

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What are some of the best distractions? Get outside and take a short stroll. Connecting with nature also has the benefit of added health benefits. Read a book that you find engaging and take your mind off what you are doing. Heck, you could even escape in a new series on Netflix. Writing in a journal is another great way to distract yourself for a bit.

If you are really ambitious, you can distract yourself by writing a story on the various novel apps, and maybe other people will come and read your work. If all that fails, my therapist swears by those videos of puppies on TikTok! You can help other people by posting one of those, too!

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.” ― Julio Cortázar

5. Learn something new or teach someone else something new

My friend is a phenomenal human being. We have been friends for over 20 years and I think she is a candidate for sainthood. She is a military wife, homeschools her daughters, and is always thinking of other people.

I joke that when I grow up; I want to be just like her. Selfless, loyal, smart, compassionate, and one hell of a constitutional scholar are just a few words that describe her. So what does her Facebook feed look like?

Every single week, she shares a “this week in science post.” It’s a picture of the significant scientific advancements that have happened that week, for those of us who are not as STEM-brained as she is. I swear I only know about some things because of these posts. You can also count on her to share things like electoral college maps that your kids can color on election night.

She has a degree in political science, and she will always be there during a debate to fact-check and clarify things they say and call people out. I know we have mutual friends who don’t watch the debates but read her play-by-play. She is like a sports announcer for politics, and it is glorious to watch.

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I share her science memes, handout ideas, and other resources she provides every time I see it because there is value in them. Everyone can use a little more knowledge and data, and social media puts it at our fingertips. Just be sure you are sharing factual information!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seus

Sure, social media has some downsides, and most of those happen because people see all the wonderful things people post and compare themselves to them. Comparing yourself to others leads to some unproductive emotions like jealousy and puts our focus on the wrong individual.

That energy you are spending comparing your life to your friend, who maybe just posted a pic of her new car, takes time away from you living your own life. There are also a lot of things you don’t know when someone makes these kinds of posts.

You might assume their life is “better” than yours because they are driving around a shiny new car, while you are still driving around in the car you had 15 years ago. Here’s the thing though, maybe they got a car because their old one blew up, and they had to spend all their savings? Or maybe, they now have a crazy car payment they worry about affording?

One thing isn’t better than the other. If you truly want a new car, then use these feelings to help you create a plan to purchase one! Don’t waste precious moments comparing your journey to someone else’s. Do you!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are some of the most inspiring things you have seen on social media? What is the most inspirational content you have shared on social media? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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