In an era dominated by social media, where we are constantly fed curated images and flawless lifestyles, the pressure to attain perfection has never been more palpable. As the desire for the ideal collides with the reality of everyday life, people feel worse and worse about themselves.
Believe it or not, “perfectionism” was once considered a virtue, defined by striving for good moral character for the good of society. But perfectionism has taken a dark turn in the age of Instagram and Facebook. The constant exposure to perfectly curated “feeds” often leads to an unhealthy comparison game, intensifying feelings of inadequacy and fueling anxiety. I see it every day with my therapy clients.
Anxiety, closely linked with perfectionism, has become a constant companion in the digital age. A desire for acceptance is hardwired into us as human beings. The fear of judgment and the need for validation causes a lot of stress, and can cause us to see our differences as unacceptable
We all need to remember that people who are most likely to post on social media are influencers, content creators, extroverts, activists, and business owners. This can make other people, such as introverts, shy people, busy parents, and other hard working people that do not have much time, feel like they are “failing” or “not enough”. This is simply not true.
Breaking the Perfectionism-Social Media Cycle:
Recognize that what is presented online is curated. This helps in managing expectations and reducing the impact of social comparison.
Set boundaries for yourself about the time spent on social media. Just notice if you feel better about yourself after a week of limited exposure.
Curate your feed by “blocking” people that make you feel bad, and “liking” things that make you feel good. Eventually, your feed will be full of authentic, positive engagement.
Share genuine experiences, struggles, and successes to foster a more supportive and understanding online community.
Staying Present and Real:
Acknowledge that perfection is an unattainable goal. Setting realistic, attainable, measurable goals in your life can make you feel more accomplished and actually be more successful and reduce anxiety.
Recognize and be grateful for what you have. Instead of looking at social media to see what your life should look like, take the time to look at what your life actually looks like. Look for all the things you are grateful for, all the beautiful things right in front of you, all the simple things that you take for granted every day. Doing this regularly is proven to increase happiness. (No need to post about it.)
Taking breaks from social media can provide much-needed relief from the constant pressure to conform. Disconnecting allows you to focus on your personal growth and well-being without external influences.
Taking breaks can also force you to be more present in your life, fostering more authentic connection and better relationships.
The intersection of anxiety, perfectionism, and social media is a complex web that many individuals find themselves entangled in. Recognizing the detrimental effects of this convergence is the first step towards breaking free from its grasp. By fostering a culture of authenticity, embracing imperfections, and practicing mindful consumption, we can navigate the digital age with a healthier mindset and build a more supportive online community. It's time to dismantle the perfectionism paradox and prioritize mental health.
The Role of Therapy
If you find that this type of anxiety is effecting your everyday life, you are not able to control the worry or negative self talk even if you try, OR if you find yourself avoiding social situations, or engaging in disordered eating it may be time to reach out to a therapists.
Therapy can teach you tools to control worry and negative thoughts. It can also help you change the way you feel about yourself by challenging and changing subconscious beliefs about yourself. Using tools such as CBT, EMDR, and Ego State Therapy can make a huge impact on your self perception.
If you feel like you need help managing anxiety/perfectionism, or just want to talk to someone, do not hesitate to reach out. At Wise Mind Therapy we are always here to help and we offer a free 15 minute phone consultation.