Lifestyle Envy

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I stumbled across an article a few days ago that really got me thinking about what I put out with my blogging. It was a thought provoking article relating a mans addiction to unrealistic expectations while viewing pornography, to a woman’s unrealistic expectations while viewing social media and lifestyle blogs. I’m calling it Lifestyle Envy. Mainly because people VIEWING seem to think that those sharing have perfect lives, because all they see is perfection in pictures. I don’t even want to share a link to the article because there were so many random thoughts all over the place that I didn’t feel were correct, but this one thought really got me thinking, Am I Addicted to Others Lives? It also made me think first, about the content I put out, am I leading others to feel bad about their lives from what I share?  Second, am I seeking after things in an unhealthy way, leading myself to be unfulfilled with my life?

The Bucket List Family

{Source: I really do love following The Bucket List Family on Instagram}

With social media a constant in our lives, it’s hard to avoid, and I think we need to regularly check ourselves. Is what we are consuming inspiring us to be better, live a more fulfilling life, encouraging our children and family? Or is it bringing us down, reminding us of something we think we can never attain?  Here are my ramblings on the topic…

Am I causing others to feel bad about themselves?

What am I doing to contribute to others feeling bad about their life? I’ll start with…. I hope that I don’t. It’s not my intention. My biggest goal for what I share is to inspire, to give ideas that will hopefully rub off on others, and bring families closer together such as printing lunch jokes for kids or tips on a humanitarian trip to Ghana.  I LOVE when people comment and share their ideas on the topic as well! It makes me happy to hear from others who have run with ideas I’ve shared, and made it their own.

I’m reminded of a comment someone very close to me shared a few years ago. She said, “Kristen, I can’t read  your blog, it makes me feel bad about myself, and all the things I’m not doing. It makes me feel like a failure.” I wanted to crawl into a hole, it hurt me to the core. Mostly that what I thought in my mind was to help others, was bringing someone down. Someone I love very much. She had the unrealistic vision in her mind that I somehow had it all together, and it was a knife twisted in her side. It reminded me that I had to share my lows, my faults, my discouragement, along with the ideas, to make sure everyone knew I DID NOT HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT. Not even close. I desperately want others to know that I have real life struggles, pain, challenges, and though I love to paint my home with bright colored walls and share ideas to decorate with pictures, it’s not picture perfect up in here. No, not one bit. But am I sharing that enough?  Am I making that known? Does it even help those that feel that way in the first place? I’m not sure.

Here are a few articles in the past that I’ve written about my challenges:

While on the one hand, I WANT to connect with readers, want you to keep coming back, want to hear from you, am I contributing to others feeling bad about themselves because of the good I’m trying to share? I hope not, but I get that it’s possible.

One of those ways that I worry about is sharing the “free stuff” I get through blogging. A big part of my job is working with brands, reviewing products, and sharing about them with my readers. I get paid to do that, and that’s VERY COOL! I’ve worked hard on this website for years, worked up to that point, but I worry that people will see me “showing off” the free stuff, and feel bad. I worry because I’ve felt this way when other blogger friends are showing off their free stuff that I didn’t get offered!  I try to keep myself in check though, and not dwell on those details, and instead try to replace those thoughts with positivity in some way or another. Throw a mini pity party, then move on.

I try to be very very careful about what I put out on social media. Mostly when it comes to activities with friends. We don’t need to share everything that we are doing, right? I often find out about the parties I’m not invited to by the pictures I see on social media. That’s painful. For everyone. Can we all be a little more careful about what we share? But on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to share MY HAPPY with the intent in my heart to share happy, not to share to rub it in someone’s face. If my intentions are pure showing pictures with friends, is that good enough? I don’t know.  Not always.

Am I seeking out lifestyles in an unhealthy way?

Comparing pornography addiction to an unhealthy social media addiction is a very interesting, thought provoking concept. I was in a conversation with a friend the other day who shared that his wife is often scrolling through Facebook, and coming back to him saying, “so and so’s husband builds stuff for her…” Or “Too bad we can’t go to Disney World like so and so’s” leaving him feel like a husband failure. His wife’s unrealistic expectation of their life is leaving him feeling like a shell of a man. Instead of just “keeping up with the Joneses” on an occasionally basis, we are doing it every day, multiple times a day, with everyone around us!

I feel like I have a fairly healthy dose of reality when I look at social media, and feel mostly inspired. But I follow some travel bloggers, and I do find myself feeling jealous of their destinations, thinking some of them I’ll likely never see in my life.  While on the other hand, it reminds me that I DO want to see the world with my family, and I can attain a dream that I work for…save for. I’ll just need to be choosy. The fitness bloggers…jealous at times, inspired at times.

I think we need to look inside ourselves, look at what we are viewing, and assess if we need to take a break, or do something uplifting to pull us out of the lifestyle addiction funk. Can it be done?

Possible Solutions

I don’t know that I’ve got a great solution. On the one hand, I see pornography as evil, addictive, ruining marriages because of the addictiveness and unrealistic expectations that stems from it. Can this lifestyle eye candy be viewed in doses without the same harmful affects? Can we as women separate someone else’s reality from our own? Be inspired instead of depressed by it?  It’s like sugar…we all know it’s addictive, that we can’t ACTUALLY live without it, but we need to take it in small doses, sometimes have a cleanse and go without it, but we don’t need to cut it out completely from our lives.

I’d like to think that viewing blogs and looking at social media are mind numbing and fun, and not actually equivalent to pornography, but to each of us it means something different.

If you think you have a problem…feel resentment or sad or jealous, TAKE A BREAK!!! Have you ever taken a social media break? It feels good. I do it all the time. Just like taking a break from sugar. Decide on a set amount of time that you’re going to stay away, fill your time with something else. If there are certain accounts or spots that are harder for you, take a longer break. You’ll come back with a different perspective, and hopefully more inspired instead of depressed.

Get out and serve

I’ve always found that looking outside myself helps when I’m in a funk. Look around, who could use a friend, a pick-me-up, some flowers, or a cupcake?  Meet with a friend and brainstorm on an area of their home they’d like to improve, and use that inspiration you found online to do so. Projects always help one feel a sense of accomplishment.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have on the subject!  Though I once felt sad at the comment from my friend about what I share on my site, I’ve since come to a realization that “I get it.” Though it’s not my intention to bring others down with what I share, I don’t feel bad anymore that they’ve chosen to not keep up with what I share, and I support that. I never want to be the cause of someone else’s pain.