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The Effect of Instagram on Self-esteem and How to Protect Yourself

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: June 19th, 2020

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Taking the leap to post on Instagram can be a bit daunting if you’re suffering from low self-esteem. In a world where you don’t believe in yourself, everyone else seems to be doing things “better” than you; they’re prettier, smarter, funnier, or whatever else your mind can come up with. This is the effect of Instagram on self-esteem, but don’t worry you can learn how to post confidently without any risk to your self esteem, I’ll show you how.

So how can you protect your self esteem while posting on Instagram?

  • Identify your strengths and what you are good at.
  • Develop and maintain a positive focus. Negative thinking is no good at all for your self esteem, especially on Instagram.
  • Avoid comparing yourself with others. Influencers on Instagram can make you feel inferior if you let them because it is easy to compare your lifestyle to the one they present to the world.
  • You an your content is different. You are unique, remember this.
  • Ignore rude comments

The truth is, low self-esteem can create a sort of veil over how you perceive yourself. In some cases we can build up a false self (read more about the false self at Medium.com) which is how we perceive ourselves and this affects our self esteem. Once you realize the veil is there, you can start to work through the effect of Instagram on self-esteem and gather the courage to start your own Instagram page. Have you always wanted to do beauty tutorials? Workout routines? Whatever you’d like to do, the first step is pushing yourself towards and beyond your comfort zone. 

How to Protect Your Self Esteem While Creating Instagram Videos

This short Instagram video guide will help you understand and provide you with tips on conquering the effect of Instagram on self-esteem and posting the best content you can on your Instagram page. 

Identify What You’re Good At 

The first step to protecting your self-esteem is identifying what you’re good at. We tend to focus highly on our negatives; mistakes, shortcomings, things we don’t like about ourselves. In fact, according to Maria Millet, Michigan State University has found that we have 80,000 thoughts a day and 80% of these are negative. In other words 64,000 negative thoughts each day (Source – Michigan State University Website)!.

When we endlessly focus on the negative, it becomes cyclic, and then that’s all we see when we look at ourselves. 

Everyone is good at something. You’re a unique person with your own special set of skills, whatever they may be. Maybe you make a mean cocktail. Guess what? There are tutorials online for making the perfect cocktail. Maybe you’re great at sketching. There’s definitely an audience for that! Knowing where your skills lie can boost your confidence and make you feel good about what you’re posting.

We tend to look at ourselves through a lens that downplays our talents, but the effect of Instagram on self-esteem means you should pay attention to the people around you. When you draw, do people compliment your work often? When you mix that perfect cocktail or apply the perfect mascara, do your friends or loved ones notice and pay their respects to your work?

Alright, so you know what you’re good at. What’s next? We need to work on undoing that perpetual feeling of it’s not that great and the effect of Instagram on self-esteem by focusing on positive thoughts. 

Focus on Positive Thoughts 


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We’ve all heard the gurus talk about how positivity can change your life but is it true? Does focusing on positive thoughts and experiences truly help change the world around us? No, it doesn’t . You can’t actually change what’s around you (within reason), but you can change the way you look at your environment and your experiences and make yourself happier and more likely to succeed (source: Specialty Journal of Psychology and Management).

Everything we see, touch, taste, smell, hear, or experience in any way is perceived by our brains a certain way. Your brain acts as a sort of bio-processor, absorbing information and processing it into images, smells, etc. That means that everything you experience, even low self-esteem, is a product of that perception. The best way to protect your self-esteem is to change the way you view criticism and focus more on positive thoughts about yourself.

So, what does positive thinking have to do with it? If you view something constantly in a negative way (such as who you are as a person), your brain learns to perceive that person, object, or experience with negative thoughts or emotions. So, if you’re always putting yourself down, you’re essentially training yourself to dislike who you are.

Focus on your strengths. And don’t say you don’t have any strengths, because that’s simply not true. Strength comes in many forms, and doesn’t just mean the ability to lift heavy objects or navigate trauma. Your strength might be that you’re a great problem solver, or that you work well with people, or you have the ability to make others laugh. Those are strengths to be proud of! 

Some gurus and mental health experts suggest a daily mantra of positivity to help reset the brain’s perception of yourself. Take a few moments each day to really focus on what you like about yourself. If you catch yourself being too critical during the day, take a step back and remind yourself that you’re only human. That means you’re going to make some mistakes! 

And let’s be honest, you can’t escape internet trolls and people that are only out to hurt you. These comments need to be identified for what they are: someone else’s insecurity being weaponized against you. Don’t let your light dim because someone doesn’t like how it shines. 

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others 

This tip is especially important. Comparing yourself to others, especially those on social media, can lead to feelings of insecurity and further damage your self-esteem. Let’s be honest for a second; most of what you see on social media is heavily filtered or altered in some way anyway, so are you really getting the true version of those people you compare yourself with?

It’s one thing to look up to a mentor or someone you respect, but constant comparisons rarely have any positive side-effects. You’ll never, ever be the best imitator of another person, but you can be the best version of yourself. Remember that next time you feel like you should look, talk, or walk like someone you saw on Instagram.

Remembering that protecting your self-esteem means being true to yourself and being proud of who you are. 

Remember That Your Content Is Unique 

People love a genuine figure, especially on platforms where filters and doctored images reign supreme. The more genuinely you your content is, the more your followers will appreciate the effort that goes into it. When you start trying to be like other people, it’s noticeable, and you lose that authenticity that your followers love so much. You are good enough, pretty enough, and talented enough. 

There is an audience waiting for your unique content. You just have to find them! 

Pick A Niche and Focus On It 

Success on Instagram requires that you pick a niche and stick with it. It’s tempting to create content on everything you enjoy, but if you want to grow a large audience, you’ll need to stick with one thing. Make this one thing what your entire page is about. This also makes it easier for potential followers to find your content since your page is associated with specific keywords/hashtags. 

Ignore Rude Comments and Feedback

When you get negative feedback on a video or post, the first thing you’ll want to do is be defensive. It hurts. Someone didn’t like what you posted. Someone said something nasty about you. This is the effect of Instagram on self-esteem. What do you do about it? Nothing. Move on. Ignore it. Unfortunately, there are just some people who feel like they need to bring other people down and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

That being said, you’ll want to learn to differentiate negative feedback for the purpose of constructive criticism and negative feedback for the sake of hurting feelings. For example, of these two sentences, which do you think is aimed at being constructive and which is aimed at being hurtful?

I think your video was entertaining, but the lighting was off and I couldn’t really see much of what was happening. Maybe get some better lighting next time?

OR

That video sucked because the lighting was awful. I couldn’t see anything. 

The first sentence helps identify an issue, whereas the second sentence is simply aimed at making you feel bad. 

Upload Consistently 

Consistency is key when you’re uploading to any social media site. Your followers will learn when you post content, and are much more likely to view everything you post if they know when to expect it. If you’re posting at random times, it’s very difficult to keep track of it all, and your content will most likely fall by the wayside. Keep your content consistent; that goes for the level of quality as well! 

Use The Right Hashtags

You’ll want to spend some time learning how to create the best hashtags for your content in order to gain new followers and increase your views. Hashtags are essentially keywords that link your content to specific search terms. For example, if you’re using the hashtag beauty, anytime someone searches for that term on Instagram, your posts will show up in the search results. 

Keep hashtags short, sweet, and content-specific. Try to use only 7-10 hashtags per post, as too many hashtags can be distracting, and too few can leave your content out of search results. 

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide helps you in starting an awesome Instagram page with compelling content that you can be proud of. Remember that you are unique, and constantly comparing yourself to others does nothing but make you feel bad. Go out there and create awesome content for your new audience! 

References

  • Michael Burkhardt. You Are Not What You Think You Are — The False Self, The Ego, and The True Self. https://medium.com/the-ascent/you-are-not-what-you-think-you-are-the-false-self-the-ego-and-the-true-self-13064f51918e
  • Moaser, Z. A. (2016). Effectivenes of positive thinking skills Training on Hamedan Students Anxiety and Happines. Specialty Journal of Psychology and Management2(3).
  • Challenge your Negative Thoughts. Maria Millett. Michigan State University Website. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/challenge_your_negative_thoughts
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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.