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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Wilson, LCSW

Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem

Updated: Mar 12

In today's world, it's hard to escape the influence of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. They're where we connect with friends. It is where we share our lives, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the world. But have you ever stopped to think about how social media impacts our self-esteem? In this blog post from me here at Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services, we'll explore how social media can undermine our confidence, from constant comparisons to the temptation to project an idealized self-image, and—more importantly—provide strategies for building resiliency in self-esteem. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of how to navigate the online world while keeping your self-esteem intact, with or without the help of Therapy for Self-Esteem in Brea, CA.

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The Culture of Comparison and How it Affects your Self-Esteem

In the vast landscape of social media, it's almost impossible to avoid the trap of comparison. Every scroll through our feeds presents us with carefully curated snapshots of other people's lives—their vacations, achievements, and seemingly perfect moments. And let's be real, it's hard not to compare our own messy, behind-the-scenes reality to those picture-perfect posts. Whether it's comparing the number of likes on our latest selfie or feeling envious of someone's seemingly alluring lifestyle, social media breeds a culture of comparison. We find ourselves constantly measuring our worth against the highlight reels of others. This often leaves us feeling like we’re coming up short in the process.

This constant comparison game can take a toll on our self-esteem. This causes us to start questioning our accomplishments, appearance, and even our worth as individuals. It's like we're in a never-ending race, always chasing after some unattainable standard set by the online world.

External Validation and The Influence of Likes and Comments

One of the tricky aspects of social media is how it can turn into a validation-seeking machine. We post a photo or share a status update, and then what? We wait for the likes, comments, and shares to roll in as if our self-worth hinges on the approval of others. It's easy to fall into this trap because, let's face it, validation feels good. When we receive a flurry of likes on a post, it's natural to feel a boost in confidence. It's like a virtual pat on the back, reassuring us that we're doing something right. On the other hand, a lack of likes or negative comments can send us spiraling into self-doubt, questioning our worth, and seeking validation from others.

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The danger of seeking external validation is that it's never enough. No matter how many likes we get or how many followers we have, there's always that nagging feeling of inadequacy lurking in the background. We become trapped in a never-ending cycle of seeking validation, always craving more but never feeling truly fulfilled. When we constantly seek validation from others, we give away our power. We let our self-worth be determined by an external source rather than our intrinsic sense of self-assurance. And the more we chase after likes and comments, the further we drift from our authentic selves. In this way, likes and comments on social media have become more than just simple indicators of approval—they're powerful influencers of our self-esteem.

Comparing with Influencers and Filtering Reality

Apart from the effects of likes and comments on social media, online celebrity culture fosters comparison and can further affect our self-esteem. Influencers and celebrities dominate our feeds. They showcase their seemingly flawless lives filled with luxury vacations, designer wardrobes, and enviable lifestyles. But what we often forget is that behind the glamorous facade lies a carefully curated image—a filtered reality that doesn't always reflect the full picture. When we compare ourselves to these influencers and celebrities, we're comparing our everyday lives to their highlight reels. We see their perfectly posed photos and immaculate aesthetics, and we can't help but feel inadequate in comparison. It's like we're measuring ourselves against an impossible standard. One set by someone else's carefully crafted image.

But here's the thing: what we see on social media is just one side of the story. Behind those polished photos and perfectly crafted captions are real people. People with their own struggles and insecurities. They, too, experience moments of doubt and vulnerability, but those moments rarely make it onto our feeds. By filtering reality and presenting only the most glamorous aspects of their lives, influencers and celebrities perpetuate an unrealistic standard of beauty and success. And when we internalize these standards and compare ourselves to them, we set ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction.

So, how do we break free from this comparison cycle and filter reality? It starts with recognizing that what we see on social media is just a fraction of the full picture. We need to remind ourselves that no one's life is perfect, no matter how it may appear online. Remembering this can help us put things into perspective and resist the urge to compare our lives to a filtered version of reality.

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Strategies for Building Resiliency in Your Self-Esteem

In a digital world where social media can sometimes feel like a battleground for our self-esteem, it's essential to arm ourselves with strategies to build resilience. These tools can help us navigate the ups and downs of online life. All while maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth.

Practice Self-Compassion


Remind yourself that it's normal to feel a range of emotions as you scroll through your feed and question whether your life is measuring up to others. Practicing encouragement, self-acceptance, and kindness can help mitigate some of the negative emotional responses to comparisons or triggering content.

Limit Your Social Media Use

Set boundaries around your social media usage to prevent overexposure to potentially triggering content. Designate specific times of the day for checking your feeds and consider taking regular breaks to focus on offline activities that bring you joy.

Curate Your Feed

Take control of your social media experience by curating your feed to include content that uplifts and inspires you. Unfollow accounts that make you feel inadequate or trigger negative emotions, and instead, follow accounts that promote body positivity, self-love, and authenticity.

Practice Mindfulness

Stay present and mindful while using social media by paying attention to your thoughts and emotions as you scroll. Notice any feelings of envy, insecurity, or comparison that arise and gently redirect your focus to the present moment. If you find yourself scrolling mindlessly, this may be a sign you need a break from social media.

Engage Authentically

Instead of passively consuming content, actively engage with your social media community in meaningful ways. Leave genuine comments, share personal experiences, and celebrate the successes of others without comparing them to your own.

Focus on Real-Life Connections

Cultivate relationships offline that nourish and support your sense of self-worth. Spend time with friends and loved ones who appreciate you for who you are beyond your online persona.

Practice Gratitude

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Shift your focus from what you lack to what you have by practicing gratitude regularly. Take time each day to reflect on the things you're thankful for, whether it's the people in your life, the experiences you've had, or the qualities that make you unique.

Seek Professional Support 

If you find that social media is negatively impacting your mental health and self-esteem, don't hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional. Therapy can provide you with tools and techniques to cope with the challenges of navigating social media while maintaining your mental well-being.

Learn How to Navigate Social Media & Your Self-Esteem through Therapy for Self-Esteem in Brea, CA

By implementing these strategies, you can build resilience in the face of social media's influence and cultivate a healthier relationship with yourself and the online world. While social media undoubtedly plays a significant role in shaping our self-esteem, it's essential to remember that our worth extends far beyond the digital realm. By recognizing the pitfalls of comparison, seeking validation from within, and implementing practical self-esteem resilience strategies, we can navigate the complexities of social media with confidence and authenticity. If you're seeking support for self-esteem consider reaching out to Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services and see how Therapy for Self-Esteem in Brea, CA can provide you with the tools and guidance to strengthen your self-esteem.

Other Therapy Services Offered by Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services in Brea, La Mirada, and Online throughout CA + AZ

At Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services, I provide a wide range of services outside of Therapy for Self-Esteem in Brea, CA tailored to your specific needs. As a therapist I offer personalized approaches to help individuals navigate Therapy for Life Transitions and Therapy for Anxiety. Whether you choose Individual Therapy or Group Therapy, my goal is to help you enhance your self-worth and confidence. Reach out to me today to explore my services and learn how I can support you on your path to improved self-esteem and a better life!

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