Time online and with social media can be wonderful, but it can also leave you feeling depressed, anxious, sad and discontent with your own life. If you struggle with this from time to time, I hope my personal thoughts on how to cope with feelings of online jealousy will help.
That torturous green eyed monster. Like it or not, it gets the best of all of us at times.
Did you know that Shakespeare coined that phrase, referring to green eyed cats who tease and torture their prey before getting the best of them. I think it a very appropriate analogy, as those feelings of discontent with our life and longing for what others have can certainly lead us into destructive paths.
Before we go much further, think for a minute what kinds of things make you feel jealous. Is it a daily struggle for you, or does it creep up on you at times completely unexpected?
Has social media and increased time online perhaps been that green eyed kitty cat that lures you in, teases you, and leaves you flat on your face?
I’ve certainly fallen prey myself at times, but have also had success at overcoming those feelings (thanks much to the help of others perspectives), and I want to share some of my own thoughts with you today. If I can help just one person find more joy and peace in this online world, then I am more than happy with my efforts.
WHY AM I DISCUSSING ONLINE JEALOUSY??
This topic has been on my mind on many occasions, and included in many conversations with different types of groups. It’s something I am keenly aware of and try to be sensitive to, as I do have an online presence. I always aim to inspire and would be distraught if I left someone, anyone, feeling discontent with their life.
So when I received this amazing 16 page magazine feature from American Farmhouse publication, my instinct was to do a quiet Instagram stories on the feature, and leave it at that. Well, besides buying my mama one and dolphin clapping with her. That’s mandatory.
But then I continued to think on how I loved when blogger friends of mine share their features and write about it on their blogs. I feel so proud of them for their accomplishments and love hearing their thoughts. I wondered if I should share my feature in a blog post, but naturally shunned the idea because of 2 reasons.
1 – I get really uncomfortable touting my successes and putting myself in the lime light. I’m a total introvert, in case you didn’t know. (P.S. Most bloggers are.) For example, my wedding day couldn’t get over quick enough. Not that it wasn’t wonderful, but oh how I hated being the center of attention with the big white dress and redundant small talk.
2 – I didn’t want to make a single soul feel jealous.
Now I don’t know if anyone actually would feel jealous, or if anyone else cares and gets immense satisfaction in seeing their home in print like I do, but the thoughts of making someone feel bad stopped me for a time.
It wasn’t until some recent conversations about online jealousy with some of my closest friends, that I felt perhaps it was time to address the topic, share some of our thoughts, – and this very magazine feature represents much of what I’ve done to overcome life crippling jealousy.
Fair warning . . . this is going to be a wordy post, but I hope it will be helpful and thought provoking for anyone who wants to discuss the topic. And please, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. You all have such inspiring input and perspective and I would love to hear it. I truly hope you enjoy the imagery I took of the magazine feature. It was an absolute honor for me to be included in such an inspiring publication.
Before I get into my suggestions for coping with feelings of online jealousy, let me first be super vulnerable. That’s always fun. #not
MY STRUGGLES WITH ONLINE JEALOUSY
Throughout the 7 years I’ve had this bloggy blog, the things that have made me discontent with my own life situations have changed from time to time. But as I look back, I realize that I have been very successful in overcoming many of them. I’ve noticed the things that cause me to slide down the jealousy slippery slope, and I’ve noticed the patterns for successfully coming out better for them.
The first thing I recall leaving me unhappy as I entered into an online world were longing for a more beautiful home. Then there were feelings of discontent in my role as a mother, wanting to be more for them and for myself. I also felt unskillful at just about anything, and mediocre at everything. Then as I tried to grow a business, not understanding why everyone else seemed to be successful . . . and not me.
But do you want to know what would (and occasionally still does, if I’m being honest) bring me to tears and longing for more? You want to know what on that tiny screen could turn my beautiful day into complete sorrow?
Even though I don’t want to tell you . . . I will.
Seeing women/friends I knew be with other friends and having a good time together.
Seems so silly typing it out, but I understand now what that was doing to me, why it had such control over me, and what I needed to do about it.
Whatever it may be for you that causes online jealousy – picture perfect images, relationships, talents of others, products, businesses – I have 8 suggestions of things you can try to do to help you overcome. And it may go against many of the methods you’ve already heard.
THE SOLUTIONS I HEAR ALL TOO OFTEN (BUT DON’T SEEM TO HAVE LASTING EFFECTS)
I’m certainly not the first to address this topic, and will not be the last. In fact, the creators of Facebook are so aware of what social media is doing to our spirits that they’ve announced in conferences I’ve attended and online about their efforts to show more of what people connect with and bring joy – like engaged groups and the feeds of their friends and family – and less of the noise from small businesses and self promoting pages. Admit-tingly, this is bad news for bloggers – but I still applaud them for the efforts and see the purpose.
But in almost every Instagram post or group discussion on online jealousy, I hear these 3 things being suggested. I may be right, or I may be wrong – but I’ve always had a gut feeling that they are not the long term solution to dealing with jealousy. They may help for a time, and if they work for you – go get em’! But here is what many say to do. . .
1 – Unfollow
2 – Delete the Apps
3 – Limit your Time Online
Certainly, if an account leaves you depressed, maybe you shouldn’t follow. But, I ask myself . . . why did I follow them in the first place? Have they changed, or is it me?
If social media becomes somewhat of an addiction and leaves you depressed, perhaps it is better to get those apps off your devices. And yet, I’ve seen people take off, put on, take off, put on . . . over and over again. Is this a lasting solution to avoiding jealousy?
Limit your time online. Always a good idea. Always. But I feel like that solution to jealousy is much like going on a diet and putting a donut around every corner. It’s always there and will always be a temptation. Whether you eat 1 donut or 10 donuts, it will set you back still. 5 minutes online, or 5 hours . . . you are likely to run into something that makes you unhappy, eventually.
These 3 ideas are great, if you are looking for a bandaid. Something to temporarily cover the pain.
I would like to now share the ways I’ve found healing and permanent change in my mind set to help me live in this online world with total peace (well . . . 95% of the time).
8 WAYS TO COPE WITH FEELINGS OF ONLINE JEALOUSY
Implementing all of these strategies might be helpful for you, or maybe only a couple of them would work for your personality. Either way, I hope it helps in some small way.
1 – AWARENESS
This step sounds simple enough, but often forgotten. Become keenly aware of what causes your feelings of jealousy. What did you just scroll by that dampened your spirits? You have to acknowledge what exactly it is before you can work on it.
For me, it wasn’t until my husband noticed I was really upset one day years ago, and I put my heart on his shoulder and talked about feeling left out and in desperate need for friendship and connection with other women. I was a mom, trying to find fulfillment in an online world, while connecting mostly to diapers and dependents. How did these other women find friendship? How could they possibly go anywhere without their kids? Could I even remember how to talk to another adult woman?
It was in vocalizing my issues and putting the awareness to words, that I could finally begin to work towards a solution and peace.
First step . . . write it down, shout it out, address the pain. You don’t have to solve it. Just acknowledge it. This is 90% of the battle.
2 – JEALOUSY IS A MAP
This concept was first introduced to me while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “The Every Branch Podcast” by Brooke Snow. It was a total lightbulb moment.
Jealousy is not a bad or negative emotion at all!!! In fact, much like our body senses physical pain when we are in danger of being hurt worse, feelings of jealousy can be our guide to discovering exactly what our mind, body and soul are in desperate need of.
I’m going to pause right here for just a moment and be sensitive to feelings of jealousy that stem from loss, longing, and come from disheartening events or circumstances we can’t control. Infertility, deaths, disabilities . . . these kinds of things and others are a level of pain that need to be dealt with in an entirely different manner, and I’m very aware of that. I lost my father as a young girl and when daddy/daughter activities came up, the pain I felt goes beyond any description of jealousy.
But when discussing the feelings of dissatisfaction with our own circumstances (in-spite of the great blessings right in front of our face) that online scrolling can instigate, we can look at jealousy as our own personal map.
As shared earlier, of course seeing women smiling together caused me pain. I needed those relations so badly in my life.
Why did seeing beautiful homes of others make me long for more than my brown walls and outdated furnishings? Obviously! There was an interior designer and creative just waiting to be unleashed!
Why did others growing businesses and accomplishments leave me feeling so unhappy in motherhood? It wasn’t at all that I didn’t like being a mother – but I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and the desire to grow something from scratch that was all my own was in my very blood. Little did I know at the time that strengthening my talents and pursuing my own dreams would help me be a better mother and discover intense satisfaction in my roles at home.
So I ask you – are the things that make you jealous telling you something? Perhaps it is time to listen up.
I might also add, take care. If jealousy is telling you you need to be size zero or the most popular kid in school, perhaps a lesson on self-worth and value is better suited.
3 – PURSUE YOUR NEEDS WITH VIGOR
Once jealousy has charted your course, make your plan of attack. How exactly are you going to fulfill that need?
But wait! Is it okay for us (women in particular) to consider our own needs and make them priority?? Won’t our families starve and our children become inmates some day?
I kid, but there was a time I felt that deeply. I was consumed with guilt for trying to be a work-from-home mom and was certain it would lead me down unholy paths and be my families undoing. I am grateful for strong women of faith who spoke up about such guilt and helping me overcoming such limiting thoughts. I gave that guilt to God and pursued my needs with vigor – and amazing things happened.
I gained confidence to pursue my business dreams. I jumped so far out of my comfort zones and made friends! Incredible real life friends. I made efforts to go to and create girls nights. I accepted invites to things that made me uncomfortable. I opened up my heart, became vulnerable, and have made treasured friendships that I can’t imagine living without. I go to every blogging conference I can to gain knowledge, experience life and connect with like-minded individuals that fill the empty corners of my heart. Through blood, sweat and tears we have created a home to be proud of.
2 amazing things have happened as a result of these efforts. 1) I now feel genuine happiness for the women in my life when they share their relationships and adventures on social media, and 2) every beautiful image I see online fills my inspiration cup to the tippy top.
I’m so grateful to have had the divine strength I needed to overcome those debilitating feelings of jealousy. I believe we all have that strength inside of us, and a God given map to guide us.
4 – DREAMING ABOUT IT IS ONE STEP CLOSER TO LIVING IT
I’m pretty sure I just heard Cami from the past remind me that there was a time where no matter how bad I wanted some things and knew they would fulfill me, they were just out of the question. I remember those days well. I was having babies, my husband was finishing up college on student loans and was the soul provider for our family. We brought home an impressive $700 a month. I have fond memories of those simple days, but man were they tough. You know what I did?
I dreamed of the day we could remodel a home. I dreamed of the day when my husband could be home more and I could go out with friends. I imagined what our life would look like.
And then Pinterest came out. I created boards that inspired and lifted me. I knew, no matter how much our house didn’t represent me, someday . . . we would have a home that would. I envisioned it. We planned it. We sketched out many of the things we could make. I learned small skills, like photography, with the very bottom of the line Canon DSLR, because that was already more than we could afford.
Through all that dreaming, I came to realize that I was capable of great things – I just needed to bide my time.
My husband likes to quote Rudy by saying “Dreams are what makes this life tolerable”.
Just trust me on this one – if you find yourself feeling jealous of things you simply cannot have because of life’s restraints – dream it up. You’ll find you become so excited and involved in the dreams, the unhappiness of your current situation can melt away. In fact, during that time I began writing a book on how to teach sewing to kids. I pitched to several publishers and was rejected by all. This book never happened, but the dreaming and planning saw me through and I’m grateful for that. Also, because of all the research I did then on the publishing world, it made me all the more equipped when the time came to publish a book with my sister.
5 – IF BEING ONLINE LEADS TO JEALOUSY OR UNHAPPINESS, CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPY PLACE ONLINE TO COUNTERACT
Let’s go out on a limb and say that Instagram actually leaves you uninspired. Or Facebook has become a place for everyone to overshare. You feel like you can’t keep up with the Joneses, and you are sick of trying. I say this is a good opportunity to create your own happy places online to turn to when the rest of the noise leaves you empty.
For me, I have some Pinterest boards that I love to curate and fill with things that inspire and make me happy. I can’t leave those boards without being full of ideas.
Also, I can’t recall the last time I have scrolled through the Facebook feed. I decided it was brain numbing and dull so I only go there for Facebook groups that I’ve joined for educational purposes or to connect with friends and groups I am an active part of.
We have the power to decide what we partake of online. Avoiding it all together may not be necessary, rather, find the things you really treasure about social media and that uplift you and stick to those.
6 – CREATE A LIST OF UPLIFTING RESOURCES
I had a dear friend share this idea with me. When slammed with those feelings of jealousy while spending time online, she keeps a list of resources on her phone to turn to that help her recenter, refocus and cope with those emotions.
These can be in the form of a quote, inspiring thought, blog post, talk, gif, meme, or whatever!
She referred me to this lovely post on “What if all I want is a mediocre life” as one of the things she reads when jealousy feelings creep in.
Like I tell my kids at the dinner table, “we need more good guys than bad guys” – same goes with the information and influence we allow in our lives.
7 – RECOGNIZE YOUR WORTH, VALUE AND THAT OF OTHERS
The great melting pot isn’t just about different backgrounds, ethnicities, color or race . . . it’s about the individual talents and contributions we all make on this earth. How dull would it be if we were all good at the same things and had the same life experiences? This concept is basic enough for a child to understand, and logical enough to lift us higher than our negative thoughts towards ourselves, especially when they arise on social media.
If you must, say it out loud until you’ve rewired your brain. “She is so good at decorating, but I’m really good at cooking.” Or I’m going to practice this one – “she looks lovely in those super tight size 2 skinny jeans . . . but man am I rocking my sweats!”
Haha! Who knows, it may do the trick. 😉
My friends – you are who you are for a reason. It’s worth every effort to try to celebrate each person’s success, talent and joy.
8 – SEEK HELP IF YOU MUST
Another thing I don’t really want to share with you, but I will.
I had about a 12 month period after baby number 4, where the clouds in my soul would not allow me to see joy, logic, and the happiness staring me in the face. No, everybody had it better than I did and I was worthless. So I nursed away, scrolling through my phone to pass the time, and only grew more certain in my convictions that my life was miserable.
I was miserable.
I didn’t believe I had postpartum depression, in fact, I’m still not certain that’s what it was . . . but my loving, attentive sister Marci insisted I go get help.
So I walked into a therapist, thinking this was a place for crazy people, hated every single session and bawled through most of them . . . and then . . . I saw the sun again.
If you cannot overcome feelings of unhappiness and jealousy, if you are certain none of my tips would work for you, there is no shame in getting help.
Talk to your loved ones. Be vulnerable. Seek professional help if you even remotely think you might need to.
Most importantly . . . pray.
I know with certainty, we have a Father in Heaven who wants us to find joy in life. He gave us our talents and abilities. He wants us to celebrate ourselves and others for who we are. He will help you overcome feelings of online jealousy.
Perhaps I didn’t have the right answer for you in my 8 tips, but I know He will.
Thank you for allowing me to open my heart to you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your interest in visiting my blog. I hope we can all work together to make our experiences online better for everyone.
Please please please feel free to share your thoughts below!!
P.S. This Spring issue of American Farmhouse is on newsstands now!