Social media is a beast.
It has the power to connect us with millions of people instantaneously, which is actually pretty amazing.
Within seconds, we can share perspectives, educate, inform, and provide entertainment. All from our smartphones.
That’s all inherently positive, and the exchange of value is tremendous.
On the other hand, with social media also comes a constant reminder of whether or not we have what we desire.
Social media platforms provide people the ultimate “look what I got/did” opportunity to show the world how they are “living their best life”.
Naturally, we tend to want to compare ourselves and our progress, to others.
But what is that doing to our minds? And just as importantly, what is that doing to our money?
How do we stop our brains from being filled with thoughts of envy, and the desire to stretch ourselves financially by trying to live like those we see?
We take back control, that’s how.
It starts with us, and here are some things to keep in mind when you are scrolling your favorite social sites.
We Need to Stop Blaming Social Media for Our Money Problems
I’m aware of all the statistics.
Yes, I know that Millennials are using social media more than previous generations.
I know that social media has been linked to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and even depression.
And I know that 49% of millennials say their spending habits have been influenced by what they see on social media.
But, is that actually addressing the underlying cause of those feelings, desires, and habits?
Isn’t that just placing blame on a platform, when really the root of the issue is internal?
Personally, I feel the narrative that social media is “causing” these negative feelings and behaviors is a bit of a cop out.
Any damage that we allow social media to wreak in our lives is within our control. We must take accountability for that.
Comparing Didn’t Start with Social Media
This comparing game isn’t even new.
I’m sure you have heard of the phrase “keeping up with the joneses”.
That phrase is literally from an early 1900’s comic strip, which followed a family of “social climbers”.
The resulting catchphrase, and trying to live like your neighbors is an old concept.
The fear of missing out, envy, or wanting social acceptance dates back decades.
The only difference now is that instead of looking out of the window and seeing your neighbor’s new toys, we can now “log in” and see people all over the world living it up.
The premise however is the same: they got, or is doing something you aren’t.
For years, we have been linking their activity to our confidence, progress perspective, and self-worth.
It’s time we change that.
We Control Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
WE are responsible and in control of how we think, feel, and behave.
Especially when it comes to money.
What we ultimately end up doing with our money originates in our own minds.
Financial behaviors are driven by our feelings, which are influenced by our thoughts and what we give meaning.
Thoughts – Feelings – Behaviors
Our behaviors, positive or negative, is what creates our results.
You Are Giving Meaning To What You See
The things or experiences other people buy don’t have any meaning to you, until you give it meaning.
At some point, you made a connection between that “thing” they posted, and a value you placed on it in your past.
Maybe you value new experiences, which tends to manifest in your life by taking vacations. As a result, seeing people take international trips really puts you in the mood to do the same.
Or, maybe you value having the latest technology, which shows up as you wanting new cars.
Connecting to a value is what’s really going on when you are being influenced by what you see on social media.
You see something that connects with a value, you think about the “thing”, you desire a feeling by having it, and then you go get “the thing”.
This is no different than how we always arrive at making financial decisions.
And you know what? That may be just fine IF you can afford it while balancing your other obligations, goals, and visions.
But you still want to be in control of this decision-making, and not just reacting.
The trick is to work to fully understand how you are processing what you see, think, and feel.
When you slow down, you will evaluate the connection between your values, thoughts, and feelings more closely.
Eventually, you’ll decide if the way you are satisfying the value is serving or hurting you.
You Cant Take Everything at Face Value
Much of the reason people create their own misery from social media is because they take too much at face value.
For example, let’s say you log into Instagram and see that your friend from high school got a brand-new car, went on a dream vacation, or bought the most beautiful house you’ve ever seen.
Goals and dreams you’ve been wanting for years, but haven’t been in the financial position to achieve, yet.
If your immediate thought is, “They must be doing better than me”, then you just fell into the illusion.
To paraphrase the legend that is Bushwick Bill, your mind is playing tricks on you.
Everything you see at face value is not necessarily as it seems.
Sure, it’s possible that they are doing financially well in order to purchase that shiny new ride, for example, but you don’t know that.
You Are Missing So Much Context from The Story
They may have been saving for years for that car.
Maybe they sacrificed other areas of their life to make that dream a reality.
On the flipside, perhaps they are completely neglecting an area of their well-being in order to have the money.
It’s also possible they simply used a bunch of debt and over extended themselves to get it.
And considering the amount of auto loan debt held by Americans is increasing, that’s actually a decent probability.
Regardless of the reason behind any purchase, you likely don’t have the background context, so why let it conjure up feelings of inadequacy?
Be happy for them, but always keep in mind that you don’t know the whole story.
Stay focused on your financial well-being journey.
So, What Can You Do?
The more you focus on strengthening your relationship with money, the better you will be prepared to fight off social media temptations.
This takes exploring your experiences, beliefs, and current values as it pertains to money.
To start, here are some questions you can use to reflect on, and a few recommended posts to help you on the journey.
- Ask Yourself:
- What do I think about when swiping?
- How do I tend to perceive what others share?
- What types of posts trigger negative feelings?
- What are those feelings?
- Are any of those feelings’ financial inadequacy?
- Which posts trigger a strong desire?
- Why do these posts make me feel that way?
- What values am I associating with the posts?
- When did I make those associations?
- How are my values helping or hurting me?
- How can I achieve the value without going backwards, financially?
- What goal and plan can I create to achieve the value?
- What am I willing to sacrifice today, to have that value in a healthy way?
It’s amazing what your brain can come up with that can help you, if you learn to ask it the right questions.
- Check Out These Posts:
I also have a FREE 5-day course on how to reach financial freedom and well-being by taking control or your mind and money without sacrificing what is important to you. It’s how I gained control over my money mindset, accumulated $200K of wealth by 30, and improved my overall state.
To get the free course, and weekly insights on reaching financial well-being, drop you email below.
I get it, social media is powerful.
But, it doesn’t have to control you, or your spending decisions.
You can, if you focus on it, learn to armor your mind by strengthening your financial relationship.
When you do, you will feel healthier.
You will feel in control of your own thoughts, and your ability to reframe what you see into a positive show of strength, and not a moment of anxiety and self-doubt.
Work on it with intention, and you won’t fall prey to the beast that is social media.