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Social Media and Happiness: How to Make Them Co-Exist

Social Media and Happiness: How to Make Them Co-Exist

Don’t Let Social Media Bring You Down

Over the last decade, we have all experienced the increase of social media in our lives. There are positives and negatives that come with social media and its influence. On the one hand, social media can be life and happiness enhancing, especially when it helps you feel more connected to the people you care most about.

At the same time, in my experience as a life coach and relationship coach, I have noticed that if we are not careful, we can allow social media to take over our perceptions and become a sort of filter through which we view the world.  When social media use becomes unbalanced it is common to experience an increase of feelings of insecurity. You may also notice that your thoughts about yourself or your life are more negative, and it can cause you to feel as though others are happier and/or better than you. You might also unintentionally spend less time and attention on the people you’re around “in real life.”

Here are some tips to help guard yourself against the negativity that social media can bring:

First, Be Aware of “False Advertising.” Social media is the place where we all go to document our lives and share our experiences with each other. From what we ate for breakfast, to the most significant events, we post it. But what we all must be aware of, is that the things we see down our timeline have been carefully crafted.

We all know what its like to spend several minutes choosing our angles, picking just the right filter, and typing the best caption ever. This effort to only display the best parts of life can cause us to absorb a false sense of reality. It is important to remind yourself that what you see, is only what people want you to see. And there is much more to life than what makes it onto our profiles.

Second, Do Not Compare. Don’t ever compare your relationships, yourself, or any other aspects of your life with what you see on social media. It is very easy for us to use the social media posts of our friends and people we admire as a compass to where our lives should be. We notice when everyone around us “seems to be” happy, getting married, or having a baby, which makes us examine our lives.

It is important to be aware of the negative feelings that can arise when we view the posts of our social media friends. For example, one of your friends travels to exotic destinations with their significant other, and all you see are posts of beautiful beaches and extravagant dinners. It can be easy to think to yourself “wow my relationship is never this exciting,” or “my partner never takes me anywhere.” The trouble with this thinking is that it promotes negativity and may motivate us to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our partners.

Lastly, Spend Time Off The Grid. If we are not careful, social media can become overwhelming and all-consuming. If you find that you spend a tremendous amount of time on social media,  or thinking about posts, or if you notice you are having negative feelings every time you open and close the apps… it’s time to take a break and go off the grid.

I personally have found it very refreshing to spend time away from social media and open myself back up to in-person interactions and experiences. Even if you have to delete the apps from your phone, it can be beneficial to take a step back and regroup— at least for a while. It will all still be there when or if you decide to jump back in. Taking breaks periodically will help you keep social media use balanced and in its place.  Time away, “in real life,” will help you re-establish a healthy perspective of yourself, your relationships, and your life.

I hope that these strategies help you maintain the positive aspects of social media use, without letting social media interfere with your happiness and life-satisfaction.

Teresa Thomas, M.A.

3 Steps to Effective Arguing

3 Steps to Effective Arguing

Fair Fighting Rules For Couples

Have you ever had an argument with your partner that feels like it is going in circles? Or have you ever had a big sense of deja-vu when you and your partner argue, like you have had the same argument ten times? It is very common for couples to fall into a slump when it comes to communication and they feel like they are not getting through to each other.

In my experience as a marriage counselor, premarital counselor, and couples therapist, couples tend to express how hard it is to communicate with each other because the conversations “always” turn into arguments. But, something that may come as a surprise is that arguments are a form of communication and can be very productive if done right. In fact, if you know how to handle yourself in potentially difficult moments, you can turn a nasty argument into a productive discussion.

“Right Fighting” in Relationships

Yes, I am saying there is a right way to argue, and a wrong way. And you may be saying to yourself, “arguments are never good” or “if we are arguing, it can’t be right.” Although I agree that excessive, hurtful, and intense arguments can be a sign of discord in your relationship, I also suggest that when done right, arguments (aka, “passionate conversations”) can be an effective and productive way to improve and even enhance your relationship. So what do I mean by done “right?” Here are three steps that will help bring structure and purpose to your next disagreement with your partner.

3 Steps to Productive Conflict in Your Relationship

Step 1: Timing

Does it feel like you arguments always seem to happen at the wrong time, in the wrong place? When we have something to say we want to say it now. And it is important to get your feelings out, but think about the timing. Be aware of when your partner seems to be more available to talk. And I even suggest trying to get a read of how emotionally available your partner is too.

As intimate partners, we have a great sense of when our partner is in a good mood. It can be helpful to “test the waters” and let them know that you have something important to talk about, just to see if the time is right. I’m not saying you should sit on things or bury your feelings if the time just never seems right. But, we can all agree that trying to have an important conversation with your partner while their favorite sports team is on, or when they walk in the door mentally exhausted from work is very difficult.

Step one of having a productive discussion instead of a hurtful argument is being aware of the timing, and try to be intentional about when you bring up the “hot topics.”

Step 2: Message Received

Remember the old cell phone commercial where people in different locations were shouting, “Can you hear me now??” When a discussion has turned into a fight that is going badly, it can feel like we want to yell that at our partner sometimes. It just feels like they don’t hear us, or they don’t get it.

When couples come to me feeling unheard by their partner it tends to be related to the way they communicate feelings and how their partner receives the message. You send it, they receive it. A great way for couples to ensure they are each heard in conversations and arguments, is to check in on what you hear. When your partner is done talking, you can ask, “Is this what you mean?” Or, say, “I hear you saying this… is that right?” Carefully checking in to make sure you’re understanding your partner gives clarity, and the chance to correct each other if your wires ever get crossed.

Step 3: What now?

The last step to productive discussions is simply saying, “What now?” It is important to have a clear plan going forward after every argument. Think of it like a game plan for your relationship. When you have picked a good time, made sure the message was received correctly, and that you’ve both heard each other, say… ”what now?”

When you shift the conversation away from how you’re feeling, towards what you can each do to solve the problem or improve the situation is what ultimately makes any conflict productive. Saying “what now” allows you to brainstorm ideas, get back on the same page, and actually fix things so that you don’t have to have the same argument over and over again.

Having a clear conclusion to every argument is crucial. When we leave things open, or we don’t talk about what we are going to do moving forward, it creates a negative cycle: Sooner or later, you’re going to disappoint each other again. Even if the “what now” comes a couple days later (after you’re both feeling calmer), it is important to make sure you come back together and have a solution-focused conversation.

While arguments can feel challenging in the moment, they’re a great opportunity for you both to get your feelings and needs out in the open. Then, you can use the new information that came from your “passionate conversation” as a roadmap to make positive changes to your relationship that deepen your connection.

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching