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The Perils of People Pleasing, Scrolling and Unfollowing

I once read an interesting tweet that said “It’s okay to unfollow those accounts who make you feel bad about yourself”. The words have always rung in and out of my ears since reading them. Especially in regards to my favourite social media platform, Instagram. I follow some absolute babes on there who wear clothes that I can only wear in my dreams. I follow my favourite artists and illustrators who’s work make me happy and who I am fascinated by. I follow the authors who have written books which I read again and again and articles which made me cry, laugh and want to throw a fist in the air with agreement. I follow people with fancy roll-top baths and Liberty wallpaper. They all make me happy to see on my feed. 

Then, only really on my bad mental health days, there are some that trigger my self-doubt in a major way. Whether it’s the fact they are more successful work-wise, they have a nicer house that they actually own, they have a nicer body, more confident, their fringe is straighter, blah blah blah. I feel SO petty to think about how bad it makes me feel. But it does. As we grow as people, how we see things and how we react shifts. Those people and accounts aren’t at all in the wrong. Everyone should post whatever they want. You got a new car? YOU TELL EVERYONE! You reached a million sales on your shop? SCREAM IT FROM THE FRIGGIN’ INSTA ROOFTOP! But how I feel and how I react, is on me and my mental health - it’s not anyone else’s doing. 

So why do I still follow them? It’s only bloody instagram. But along with self-doubt and anxiety comes the big fat heaviness of GUILT. And this doesn’t just occur in my internet/work life. It’s present every single day in everything I do. I over-analyse my actions, my opinions and my words with the ever-present question, “Will that make anyone else feel bad?”. I worry so much about other peoples reactions - even strangers - that sometimes, it stops me from doing certain things. Things that will be beneficial for me or things I need to do. I’m a people pleaser, it seems. (Although, I’m really awful at replying to texts.. so throw that into the mix and I’m just a guilt-ridden MESS. I am trying to get better at that.. And, trust me, it annoys me just as much as it annoys my friends and family.)

I talk about this in depth in my CBT sessions. There was a scale involved that is now always stuck in my mind. At one end is “Aggressive”, at the other is “Passive” and right in the middle is “Assertive”. If one was aggressive, they would be considered quite selfish and self-centred, not caring or considering anyone else, nor their feelings, when making decisions. Passive is the complete opposite. You care TOO much about everyone else that your own needs, feelings and emotions are a second thought - they’re not as important as other people’s feelings, reactions and emotions. Very much a people-pleaser. Now, if you are assertive, you have the perfect balance of the two. Your needs and emotions come first but you’re not selfish or rude with it. You still consider those around you but you make sure you are putting yourself first, mostly. That’s where I need to be. Sat right in the middle of that scale, swinging my legs and happily scrolling through my phone.

So - have I been living so far toward the passive end of the scale that I’m letting my fear of making people (strangers, may I add) feel bad if I unfollow them? Am I that silly? And even now, while writing this, I’m concerned that people will think I’m referring to them and feel bad about themselves. What am I DOING?! I now know that being passive has been so detrimental to my mental health that I can’t let myself carry on. I’ve taken small steps in becoming more assertive in my personal life and I need to open up the gateway and let it flow into my work/internet life. Why should we feel powerless over our own timeline?! Why should we make ourselves feel this way when scrolling through our own phones?! Madness.

We've got to look after number one. Be kind to ourselves and do whatever it takes to give ourselves peace of mind. 

Charlotte Mcintosh