As we navigate the new year, one of the things that we may look for is an opportunity to enhance our relationships, from friendships to romance to how we connect with our coworkers. As human beings, relationships play an important role in the way that we see ourselves, and when we reflect on the new year, it is often how our relationships progressed and the experiences we enjoyed with others.
However, often, in order to find and grow in these relationships, we often have to focus on ourselves, and to do that, you may want to ask yourself what it is that makes you interesting.
Qualities of an Interesting Person
There’s a cliché in the dating world that you are more likely to meet someone when you spend time working on yourself. But this isn’t entirely untrue. That is because when we take on activities for ourselves, we also answer an important question: What makes us interesting?
When we take on activities for ourselves, we are able to:
Maintain interesting conversations. The more experiences we have with cool, fun, or unique things, the more we are able to give other people an experience as our friend or partner that they cannot get from others.
Grow our self confidence. When we engage in activities for ourselves, we often find that we grow our self-esteem and self-confidence. This helps to make sure that we’re feeling our best about who we are, making us more fun to talk to.
Find like-minded people. When we engage in activities that we enjoy and are learning from, we also meet people that are interested in the same activities. These are people that likely share your traits – people that will be more interested in you, and vice versa.
“Finding ourselves” by taking on new hobbies and activities and prioritizing self-care has benefits that extend far beyond ourselves. It makes us more interesting to others, and helps you find and meet people that you connect with better.
As we embark on a new year, it also has the added advantage of making life more fulfilling, slowing down time, and ensuring that – at the end of the year – you can look back fondly on who you are and what you accomplished.
Therapy to Help Increase Motivation and Self-Esteem
Still, despite all these benefits, it can be hard to give yourself the motivation to engage in these activities. Poor self-confidence, low energy, stress – these are all issues that can hold you back from committing to activities that will enhance your life. If you’ve been struggling with these issues, call Flourish Psychology today to learn more about our therapists or to schedule an appointment.
There are some people that can talk to anyone. If someone is in a room with them, a friend or stranger, they can fearlessly walk up to that person and start a conversation, with no timidness or hesitation in their voice.
But not everyone is that social, and some people struggle to have conversations – especially with people they do not know. Often, these individuals are described as being “shy.” Sometimes, however, these individuals are struggling with social anxiety disorder, and their shyness is actually a form of moderate to severe anxiety that would benefit from treatment by a mental health professional.
Yet how do you know if it is shyness or social anxiety?
Shyness and Social Anxiety Similarities and Differences
Shyness and social anxiety share many common traits. Both make it harder to socialize with strangers or groups. Both can make it more difficult to have the relationships you want, or participate in some of the activities that you want to enjoy.
But there are key differences between the two, and most of them relate to the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that occur during social situations.
Shy people can often motivate themselves to be social with only a little bit of self-talk.
Shy people may feel a little bit of anxiety, but it is fleeting and easy to manage.
Shy people often still go out and participate in social activities.
Shy people do not necessarily feel significant shame or embarrassment at being shy.
On the other hand:
Social anxiety tends to cause moderate to severe anxiety at the idea of being social.
Social anxiety comes with a lot of negative self-talk.
Social anxiety causes increasingly severe physical responses in social situations.
Social anxiety leads to many negative emotions and overthinking about the experience.
Social anxiety is difficult to overcome, and can get worse over time.
Social anxiety makes people avoid possibly enjoyable social situations.
A person that is shy may feel like they want to talk to someone but have a bit of a hard time speaking up. A person with social anxiety is often fearful about talking to that person, worried they’ll embarrass themselves, and may experience severe anxiety that prevents them from engaging with others.
Still, while the two are different, they are not entirely unrelated. Shyness can lead to someone developing social anxiety disorder if their shyness starts to negatively impact their life, and what we call “shyness” could be a form of mild, manageable social anxiety that has the potential to worsen depending on life experience. It may be a personality trait, but it may also be a form of social anxiety that is currently manageable, but could develop into worse symptoms over time.
Evaluating and Treating Your Social Anxiety
It is difficult to live with social anxiety. It is even more difficult to live with social anxiety here in Brooklyn and NYC, as our area is densely packed, brimming with events and social experiences, and often requires socialization in order to navigate the busyness of the city.
At Flourish Psychology, we believe that what matters most is helping you achieve your goals. Whether you have social anxiety or you’re just feeling shy and want a bit more self-confidence to be social, we want to be here to work with you, helping you achieve these goals and live your life the way you want to live. Contact us today to learn more.
Though social media is a relatively new advancement in technology, it has very quickly become an unavoidable aspect of our everyday lives. For most teens and millennials, constant access to social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter is facilitated through use of a smartphone that is always connected to the internet. For older populations, Facebook and YouTube are far more popular. For younger generations, exposure to screens starts in early infancy, with many parents using tablets and smartphones to keep young children entertained with games, videos and educational content. Regardless of your age group or lifestyle, chances are that you have some form of a relationship with social media, due to its accessibility, ease of use and various benefits.
Of course, there are many positive aspects to social media use. These revolutionary platforms allow us to have easy access to important information, which can be crucial during an ever-changing world. The latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, elections and other crucial world events are available at the tap of a screen. With travel restrictions and lockdowns, social media allows us to keep in contact with loved ones we otherwise would not be able to reach.
Limited research on effects of social media use
Given the relative recency of these technologies, there is limited research on its effects on our mental health and wellbeing. The most accurate research studies take place over many years and measure long-term impact. With social media, there simply hasn’t enough time for such a comprehensive study. While we may not yet have information on the long-term effects of constant social media use, we do have quite a bit of research on the shorter-term impacts. This is crucial information that we can use to surmise what the impact will be if we continue using social media in a particular way over a longer period of time.
Many studies focus on the psychological impact of increased exposure to these platforms and how this exposure contributes to depression, anxiety, self-harm and disordered eating.
FOMO and the comparison game
By nature, humans are wired to compare themselves to each other. Long before these technologies existed, we have been “keeping up with the Joneses” by comparing our careers, possessions, children and bank accounts to our peers, neighbors and colleagues. For decades, research has indicated that we make upward comparisons, i.e. we measure the mundane or unpleasant aspects of our lives to the grandiose and glamorous aspects of other people’s lives.
Social media ups the ante of the comparison game by giving us constant access to the highlight reels of others. A few decades ago, we may be notified of a colleague’s new car if we happened to notice it in their parking spot at work or a chance encounter at the grocery store. Now, you can see how #grateful your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is for her new car before she even drives it off the lot. Seeing this while you’re dealing with a tough financial time can easily bring on feelings of inadequacy and comparison.
These feelings of comparison can lead to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Have you ever watched an Instagram story of a group of friends at a restaurant or party while you’re at home in your PJs? It’s easy to feel like life is passing you by while scrolling through the seemingly exciting lives of others.
In some ways, comparison can be a healthy and useful tool for self-development. By seeking inspiration from the achievements of others, we can find motivation to make improvements to our own lives. By using your peers as a benchmark, you can also find reassurance in the fact that you are on the right track or may even be doing better than you expected. But the comparison game can quickly take a very dark turn, leaving you feeling inferior, anxious or depressed.
Social Media & The 24-hour news cycle
The 24-hour news cycle came about in the mid-1990s when television networks began doing fast-paced investigative journalism in an effort to compete with each other. There is a constant race for the juiciest scoop, the exclusive interview and to be the first to break the latest news. This was a revolutionary concept in comparison to printed newspapers, which were only able to provide delayed information once per day. In the age of social media, the news cycle is even more constant because it’s in your pocket.
Back in the nineties, it was easy to turn off your TV to head to work or otherwise go about your day. Today, it’s more of a challenge to avoid the news than it is to stay informed. Information overload can lead to stress, anxiety and a whole host of mental health issues.
Steps you can take to minimize effects
If you’ve noticed that your social media use leaves you feeling depressed or that every notification brings a feeling of dread or anxiety, it may be time to make some changes.
Remind yourself that you don’t need to be constantly connected to stay informed. Do you really need to hear every breaking news update? Checking a summary of your favorite news sites once or twice per day is enough to keep you informed of important local and world events. There are many services that offer personalized, condensed news reports based on your interests and location. Consider turning off the CNN notifications in favour of one of these options.
It’s also important to remember that people are only putting the very best version of themselves on social media. It’s unfair to compare yourself in a low moment to a retouched, made-up, and hyper-positive social media post. Remember that we all face setbacks and challenges, but these are rarely shared on Instagram.
Social media can easily cause us to feel like the star of our very own reality show. This can create a feeling of obligation in relation to updating your followers about your daily life and major life developments. Remind yourself that there is no such obligation. Release the pressure that comes with taking the perfect shot, writing the wittiest caption and getting the most likes or comments. It’s okay to take a break from posting. If you’re feeling up for it, why not take a social media detox? Disconnecting from the constant rat race can bring you unexpected peace and clarity. If your livelihood depends on social media, consider scheduling posts ahead of time to keep your feed updated.
Another simple, yet important step to take is to unfollow or unsubscribe from accounts that negatively affect your wellbeing. Does a certain news site use anxiety-inducing headlines as clickbait? Unfollow! How about an email marketing newsletter that always leads to you making a purchase you’ll later regret? Unsubscribe! And the girl with the seemingly perfect life with the self-righteous captions that cause you to feel inferior? It’s okay to mute her, too.
If you’re having issues detaching from social media and are concerned about its impact on your mental health, you may wish to discuss these concerns with a therapist. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology understand that social media is interwoven into our lives and are trained to address the mental health issues that may arise from constant use of these platforms. Schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.
Many of us struggle to love our bodies. Unrealistic beauty standards are everywhere we turn. Bodies that look nothing like ours pressure us to mirror what we see. Disappointment, fad diets, and toxic cycles ensue. But this does not have to be your reality. You deserve to look into a mirror and love the image that is reflected. Here are 5 steps you can take to begin loving yourself.
Step 1: Recognize The Strength Of Your Body
Our bodies are incredibly strong. The heart works incredibly hard to keep you alive. Your brain allows you to solve those puzzles, allowed you to get through high school, and your lungs are a constant reminder that you are still alive, and breathing. Your belly houses all of your organs, and provides shelter, and protects them. If you are a mother your body has done incredible things like have a baby, and feeds your body.
Your body is a safe haven that works tirelessly to keep you alive. It’s inner workings are intricate, and hard to fathom, yet we take it for granted. Your body is a living breathing love letter to you. If it could speak it would say “ you are so important to me that I work tirelessly everyday, so you can live to see another day and live your life”. Your body deserves to be loved and celebrated because of this.
Step 2: See Your Beauty
While you may not realize it, you possess a great amount of beauty. This is not fully realized as of yet, as a result you think thoughts that only harm your self esteem. These thoughts can include “why am I so ugly”, “no one will find me so attractive”, and “I hate my body”. These thoughts are not only detrimental to your self esteem, but also to your mental health. Instead try to find at least two things that you like about yourself or your appearance. This can be absolutely anything. The list can range from your lips, beard, hair, arms, eyes, or your love for chocolate!
The goal here is to see that you truly do have beautiful features whether they are physical attributes or not. By always looking for something you do love, you begin to counteract and disempower the negative thoughts. If you continue to do this you will find more things to love, and there will be a surplus of positive thoughts. The existence of your beauty is a fact, it simply has to be confirmed.
Step 3: Be Mindful of the media you consume
The media displays beautiful bodies, but sometimes the bodies that are portrayed are unrealistic, or hard to achieve. By consuming these images we begin to feel less than and compare our bodies to what we see in the media. This can lead to a cycle that involves dangerous diets, negative thoughts, and a lack of self love. To combat this spend time away from sources that cause you to dislike your body.
Try canceling that magazine subscription for a month or two, find healthy diets, or surround yourself with body-positive figures. Another way to do this is through social media. Unfollow people who cause you to scrutinize your body, or creators who you constantly compare your body to. Try following people and brands who preach body positivity and celebrate all bodies.
Step 4: REMIND YOURSELF THAT LOOKS AREN’T EVERYTHING
Looks, and physical appearance do not determine your worth. You are so much more than what you look like. To narrow down your existence to the size of your body or the level of symmetry of your face is to do yourself a disservice. Think of the most important people in your life. Do you love them simply because of their looks? Would you stop loving them if they lost their good looks? The answer to this question is most likely no.
You love the people you love not because they are attractive or look good, you love them because they bring you joy. They comfort you, make you laugh, care for you and others, and have the ability to make your bad days better. Would you tell them the only thing that makes them important in this world are their looks? If not, then why do you repeat the same message to yourself? You are more than your looks, and bring light to the lives of others. You have made someone laugh, smile, or look forward to another day. Your looks do not define you, at all.
Step 5: Forgive Yourself
It is easy to beat yourself up for all of your faults. Many of us have spent our nights lamenting over our actions in the past, and are left cringing. But no matter how cringy our actions were in the past, we need to forgive ourselves. If we do not forgive ourselves, we cannot move on. If you do not practice self forgiveness you may find yourself living in the past and unable to move forward. Practice forgiving yourself, even for the most minor occurrences. Remind yourself that everybody makes mistakes, and that mistakes are completely normal. They are what make us human. Let’s be honest, some of our mishaps are humorous so take the moment to laugh, reflect, move on, and make a point to learn from your mistakes.
Do not torture yourself when you say the wrong words, when you do something embarrassing, or when you find that you could have been nicer that one time. Simply acknowledge your mistake, reflect upon it, make a plan to do better, and move on from it. By doing this you will build up your self esteem, and give yourself permission to move out of your past.
Using these 5 steps whether together or individually will allow you to begin loving yourself.
While the 5 steps will aid in self love, and will help you begin loving yourself. extra help may be needed. If you are struggling with your body image, and self esteem or if you are worried you may have an eating disorder, contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our psychologists specialize in body image and eating disorders and will help you regain a positive self-esteem.