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Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Joy

I remember back when I was a brand new teacher attending one of those training sessions where they inevitably figured that if you're a teacher you must like doing skits and singing songs. (They were wrong on both accounts for me.) Sitting uncomfortably in that big cafeteria full of teachers from the experienced to the greenest of the green, the only thing I remember is the presenter picking up a bottle of dish soap and reminding each one of us, DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR JOY. Of course he didn't mean the little bottle of dish soap but his focus for the next hour was on people around you who suck the joy and meaning out of teaching (or life). That quick phrase has stuck with me for 20 years and I'm here to remind you of the same thing today.

Pick up your phone: what is your go to app? Is it Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Do you love/hate every single one of them? You know when you pop on just to check to see if there is anything fun going on in your area over the weekend but instead, you find out how far behind you are falling in the parenting game, or that you have no idea how to spruce up your landscaping on a tight budget? You know the feeling, right? It's that swim through the La Brea Tar Pits that will feel warm and soft at first when you see your brother's new puppy, then suddenly you freeze and drown in a sticky suffocating hell of self-congratulatory posts. Today, my friends, I'm talking a little bit about Pinstaface syndrome. (I invented this word. Do not Google it because you are sure to get the wrong definition. Use this one that I have created for your convenience.)

Pinstaface ; [in-stuh-feys] (noun) :: A combination of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook that takes the perfection displayed by the poster and adds the benefits of lost joy and self-depreciation. Often leads to anxiety and inferiority complexes within the readers. See related, photoshop and/or Martha Stuart.

Pinstaface syndrome is that horrid little by-product of constant connection and comparison. It's the social autobiography presented to us through the Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook platforms from the rest of the world. We get to see, judge, or praise not only the poster's life but then our own. This multi-faceted piece of angsty-guilt-ridden hell that nearly every single one of us experiences at least one while perusing other people's social media is making us hyper-critical of our own kids, homes, and ability to succeed. It is the combination pack of pride and attention that we have the opportunity to crave and deplore at the same time. Let me give you a little example after I make the disclaimer that I understand that we all like to celebrate our successes and share with the world that good things that are going on in our lives. We should celebrate those things! That being said, there is a good way and a very, very bad way to accomplish this. Here...

Celebrating success: Example 1

Took Johnny out for Pizza Hut tonight to celebrate his hard work. Its paying off! On to the little league finals!

This is great stuff! Little Johnny sounds like he is a pretty awesome kid who is having a pretty good t-ball season. The family is having a little celebration with pizza and sharing a happy post. Some people will "like" this post because they like everything posted by this mom/dad, some will because they play on his little league team, some will because they like Pizza Hut, and others will because they are really following Johnny's success. Yeah Johnny, and yeah mom and dad for keeping it simple without coating it in #blessed syrup.

Bragging Attention Seeking Post called Success Example 2

Not only did Johnny have the most goals in the game, but he also managed to ace his Math test! I don't know how he does it since I can't get him to study. This kid is unstoppable! The soccer world is about to be rocked on Friday! Johnny, I am so proud of you for getting he highest grade in your class and still having energy to go out and show the rest of your team how it's done. (This momma is ready for it all to be over so we can head to *insert water park name* here with is team on Saturday to celebrate. Whew! What a day!)

Do you see the difference? If you don't, you might want to start paying attention - or actually, you might want to never pay attention because it'll suck you under. There is a fine line between celebrating successes and bragging, and it seems to be that a whole bunch of people don't know where that line is. I don't think its intentional and it may be entirely a matter of perception more than actual intent, but when its consistent and not carefully worded, it's glaringly obvious that someone is begging for some attention, and it's not Johnny. These posts make readers want to run away so they don't have to compare themselves and their "unsuccessful" kid. Have you ever felt the pressure to congratulation the kid or the parent while you knock you own parenting skills down three notches? If that is your first reaction, it's time to clear the clutter.

Is the goal of these posts to make other's feel badly? Is it to make the person posting feel better? Since they are everywhere, it's worth asking ourselves, have we gotten to the point where we have to ask for attention by posting how fantastic our lives are for recognition? Shouldn't we be hoping we don't have the time to announce it because we're too busy living? And where is that whole idea of being humble? You know the posts I'm referring to, right? They are the, "Oh wow! Front row again?! #blessed", and the, "Fifth Year in a row of 1st place!! Maybe he/she needs to be in a tougher league. Congratulations again, Johnny/Suzy! " Sure our kids deserve to be recognized for their hard work and successes and we definitely need to let them know how proud we are of them, but there is a humble and sincere way and then there is over the top praise which often times not only drives your neighbors bananas, but also can often become embarrassing to our children as they grow. In a world full of duck-face selfies, I am always amused at how many teenagers want to crawl into a cave and hide when their parent's gush on them day after day.

My hope in today's post is two fold. First, to give you permission to cut ties to anyone making you feel inferior. You do not have any business comparing someone else's life with your's because it is not your life. Also, most people don't post the blah and boring parts of their lives, only the parts they want you to see. I'm sure you have heard this before but hearing things doesn't mean we actually process and do what we should do. Instead of wondering if you're doing enough or if you're a bad parent for not posting your daughter's 78th win in a row on Insta, look around and celebrate all the successes that you have stocked up that don't require the affirmation of others. Do you see all of that awesome? Feel good about it, celebrate, then hit unfollow or block on the account that leaves you feeling like less. Before you tell me that you couldn't possibly unfollow your family or friends, I want you to stop and ask yourself why. If something as silly as a social media post is giving you vacation envy, parenting paranoia, or causing you to second-guess your own ability or worth is it really something you need to see? Sure it might lead to an interesting conversation later on down the road about why you unfollowed, but your self-worth is far more important than someone else's follower count.

Second, if you're struggling with how you can feel more positive about your own life and what's going well for you but have no idea what to do once you clean up your social media followings, schedule a Breakthrough session with me and lets figure out together what areas of your life might need a little bit of love. It's only 45 minutes and I guarantee you that you'll leave our call with some serious insight into your life, what you want, and an idea how to get it. No more feeling badly about a you that is completely awesome just the way you are! Don't ever let anyone steal your joy!


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