If you’ve been alive for at least a few years, you will know that people lie. And if you’ve had a social media account for at least a few weeks, you’ll know that influencers lie even more. Not all of them. But lying, misleading, and hiding the truth has almost become an intrinsic part of social media these days. People lie about their lives. People are misleading about their intentions. And people hide what they’re going through. You see, to many social media influencers, upholding the image that they have created for themselves and make a lot of money off of is far more important than honesty or authenticity.
Now, everyone who shares on social media is allowed to keep certain aspects of their life private. But where it becomes a problem is when those who preach positivity and profit off of you believing they are super happy and positive, are not actually as happy and positive as they want you to think they are.
The way that positivity is commonly promoted these days is very unhealthy and harmful. Many influencers who people look up to and model their lives and ways of thinking after act like as long as you’re positive, everything's gonna be alright and all your problems will just disappear. ‘Stop focusing on the negatives, look at the positives.’ This can definitely be helpful but it sends a very subliminal message that if we stop thinking about our problems, they will go away and that’s how we should deal with issues. In reality, disregarding our unpleasant emotions by trying to “just think positively” doesn’t help us understand them and usually leads to more unhappiness because we’re just burying those emotions deeper down within.
There are countless practices that can improve our lives like reciting affirmations, expressing gratitude, and having a more positive mindset. But just doing these things does not get to the root of the problem, they are more of just a temporary way to improve our current moment. If we want long term solutions, we actually have to do the opposite. We need to allow ourselves to think about and feel those emotions. We need to find where they stem from and identify what is causing them.
We need to stop looking at pleasant emotions as “good” and unpleasant emotions as “bad”. Both serve a purpose in our lives. Both are equally important to our growth and wellbeing. Our negative thoughts and feelings are our teachers. If we choose not to hide from them, they can be a way to better understand ourselves and our current needs.
Being happy 24/7 is of course impossible. We all feel unpleasant emotions and we shouldn’t be afraid of them or try to stop them. Instead, if we allow ourselves to feel and understand them, we can come to a place where they don’t arise as frequently or strongly to begin with.
Influencers who create content about positivity feel all the same emotions that anyone else does. And it’s okay if they don’t want to talk about certain things in their lives, but we have to realize that just because someone looks happy, doesn’t mean they are happy. Just because someone is always telling us they’re a super positive person, doesn’t mean they’re telling us the truth. It is very easy to fake who you are and how you’re feeling through photos and videos that are usually just an edited highlight reel of your life. Often, these influencers are dealing with their own emotional problems that they may feel like they can’t talk about because it would affect their reputation and how people view their advice. Or they may feel like people wouldn’t be as attracted to their content if they weren’t always upbeat and bubbly.
Faking positivity on social media is far from uncommon so it’s important to take everything we see with a grain of salt. People who make thousands and thousands of dollars from hosting their own retreats or having a mentorship program must promote themselves as someone who knows what they’re talking about and has all the answers you’re looking for. If they were to admit to their struggles, their followers might begin to question whether or not they are qualified to teach what they teach. This is what leads these types of influencers to hide the reality of their lives from their audience.
So it is of course fine to look to influencers for inspiration but know they don’t have it all figured out. They may struggle with things that they don’t share online. They may not always be as positive and happy as they want you to believe. And no matter how influential or inspirational they are, their advice might not always be the best solution for you.
Do not be afraid of your feelings. Being angry, sad, hurt, or confused are not punishments. Having days where you don’t love yourself very much, spending time thinking of all the things that you think are wrong with you, or feeling like you’ll never accomplish your goals and dreams are all normal feelings to experience. They don’t need to be pushed away with an instantaneous mindset change, they need your presence and attention if they are to be truly resolved. We cannot overcome our problems by forgetting about them- that only creates temporary alleviation. Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are all important. When we understand that importance, we can become more mindful of how to properly deal with things that come up and react in ways that will benefit our lives long term.