In general, we know how to take care of ourselves. We know which foods are most healthful. We know which habits to avoid (like smoking) and which to embrace (like exercise). And we all know we should be flossing our teeth every day – whether we actually do it or not is another matter entirely! However, taking care of our emotional and spiritual wellbeing is not as widely known, although just as important. When we are well, we feel joyful and eager to explore, be curious, or even to take risks in life. But when doubt, insecurity, and negativity creep in, life is more challenging and maintaining a connection to the Creator is not always easy. How can we maintain wellness from the inside out? The answer lies in the Light.
We are currently experiencing what researchers call an “epidemic of insecurity” due to our increasing engagement with social media. Seeing the “edited” version of the lives of others can try our self-esteem daily. A Swedish study linked self-confidence (and lack thereof) to Facebook use. Those who interacted with Facebook for excessive amounts of time (on average, over one hour a day) were more likely to experience low self-esteem. Another study conducted by the University of Houston found the likelihood that participants engage in “social comparison” and experience symptoms of depression was directly related to how much time they spent on Facebook. On the good days, we share the joys of others and celebrate their successes without feeling depleted of our own joy. We feel totally connected to the Light of the Creator and inspired to share. On the not-so-good days, we feel resentful towards others for their seemingly “perfect” lives. These negative thoughts disconnect us from the Light.
With more than one billion people active on Facebook around the world, it is no wonder sociologists and psychologists are studying the connection social media has on self-esteem. But we can avoid this phenomenon (and it doesn’t mean we have to shut down our accounts) by using a few simple tools to keep us connected to the Light while cultivating a higher consciousness.
Notice Negative Thought Patterns
Negative thoughts often arise when we feel we lack something in our lives. They can manifest as low self-confidence, a feeling of always needing more, or the impulse to have something in order to feel fulfilled. Spotting our feelings of lack before they evolve into insecurity and negative feelings towards others is key to maintaining emotional wellbeing.
Notice when negative thoughts arise and try to refrain from judgment. Have compassion for yourself. These thoughts are normal. Remind yourself that things are just things. You’re doing fine; life is a work in progress. When our basic human needs are met and we are connected to the Light, there is very little else we truly need.
See the Humanity in Others
We live in an amazing time of continuous and extraordinary technological advances that allow us to stay connected with our friends, family, and the communities to which we belong. This can be a beautiful thing. Yet, for all the blessings it affords, technology can also cause us to become so enmeshed in the material world, that we begin to define our value and worthiness in comparison to others.
When you begin to compare yourself and your life to the achievements of others, stop and see their humanity. All of us struggle in our own ways. We each have a unique tikun (or correction) in this lifetime. Perhaps a friend just landed a promotion while you are on the hunt for a new job. Or family member announces an engagement when you have recently ended a relationship. Remember, they are on a path completely different from yours, and whether you see it or not, those you compare yourself to are challenged in other ways.
Identify the things that lift you up, that make you feel a strong connection to the Creator. Those are the things you can return to when you feel negative thoughts take over. Consider making a list of people you can call, places you can go, or passages you can read that will help you replace negativity with warmth and joy. Keep this list in your wallet or on your phone. Over time, you will begin to make a habit of shifting your perspective and you won’t need to refer to this list at all.
“When we consciously appreciate the magnitude of what we are—a spark of the infinite Light of the Creator—then it becomes so much easier for us to share our energy with others,” says Karen Berg. “If we can start to connect with our inner goodness just a little more in our lives, if we can take the Divine energy that fills us and use it for the benefit of others, we can begin to experience life on an entirely different level. By connecting with this internal energy, we can be present and available for others, even if we don’t feel great, and even if everything isn’t as we think it should be.”
Each of us was born with a unique purpose in this world and with unique gifts to help us live out that purpose. We need only look to the Light of the Creator to find what we need. Our value is not found in comparing ourselves to others, but to our own potential, to the Light we have the capability to bring into the world.