I’ve always been cautious about Instagram. I enjoy the content but don’t want to get sucked into a vortex of needing validation through likes or comparing my life to fake/altered realities. Friends have made fun of me for the rules I’ve put in place to control my activity on the gram. My daily routine consists of downloading the app on my phone every morning and scrolling during my bowel movements. Before flushing the toilet, I delete the app until the next morning rolls around. It’s the best of both worlds — I can be tuned in but in moderation. I’m basically microdosing on Insta and honestly, it works for me. Having said that, I was shocked when Instagram recently began to play a pivotal role in my mental health in a positive way.
My Insta algorithm is a hot mess. I get advertisements for lingerie, Harry Potter paraphernalia, and nail art — all things that I love but don’t enjoy the endless sponsored content interrupting my feed. One day, my feed started mysteriously including sponsored posts of a different nature, mantras and affirmations celebrating self-love. Affirmations like “At a certain point, you gotta want more for yourself” by @wetheurban. Ding, ding, ding! Instagram got the memo that I was going through a brutal breakup. It was a creepy intrusion of privacy, but helpful nonetheless.
I went through all the usual steps of grief during this particularly cruel heartbreak: disbelief, carb overload, anger, listening to Oprah’s Super Soul podcast, depression, screaming Cher lyrics in the shower (Do you believeeee in life after love?!?!?), and finally acceptance and growth. My mind replayed every detail of the relationship over and over again. I wanted to retrace my steps and analyze why I ignored my instincts to stay with someone who gave off HEAVY narcissistic personality disorder vibes. Why I found myself settling for the first time in my life and how I could make sure to never get entangled in that sort of misery again. All my usual antidotes for a broken heart only seemed to give me temporary peace, but this time I gained a new friend that greatly added to my clarity and healing.
Insta poets, mantras, and affirmations became my jam. They served as daily messages your best friend should tell you when you’re hurting and in desperate need of a silver lining.
These kind words on Instagram sounded like entries out of my journal and it was eerie how it feels as if they were talking straight to my soul. A post by @sylvestermcnutt left me in a trance: “Learn to say that’s on you. Your behavior is on you. The choices you make are on you. The way you live is on you. Stop absorbing the pain of other people. Recognize what belongs to you and what doesn’t.” People internalize so much pain projected onto them by others who have hurt them, but there’s a difference between having empathy and setting clear boundaries for your heart.
These Insta posts have been therapeutic for me in their own unique way. I’m an advocate for traditional therapy and have been in weekly sessions with my therapist for years. But sometimes you need advice and a helping hand from a complete stranger, in the form of bite-size mantras that appeal to our modern attention spans and are easy to remember. It’s like when your mom tells you you’re beautiful, but you don’t believe it until someone says you look like Jessica Williams. Ultimately, the Instagram affirmations I was seeing every day were an additional tool to everything else I do to keep my mental health thriving. I’m sure they wouldn’t hit home if I wasn’t already putting in the hard work to heal and grow through other mediums, but I’m just glad I’ve found them and they’re connecting with me on a deep level.
My mind has a tendency to be addicted to negative attachments and it’s hard for me to let go of unresolved issues. I always want to fix everything and when I can’t (often because the other person has the emotional intelligence of a teenager), I dwell on it and am filled with resentment. These affirmations became my daily mantras any time my mind returned to old, tired patterns. I would repeat these affirmations in my head or out loud and smile. I won’t allow negative attachments to block my path of receiving and giving love.
These posts are simple words but they hold powerful messages:
- You can’t control others, let people be who they are.
- Focus on being who you want to be.
- Embrace change.
- Let go. Love. Forgive. Prosper.
Whenever I see a post by one of my beloved Insta poets, it stops me dead in my tracks of mindless scrolling and I’m absolutely mesmerized by their words. They penetrate through me and are like the fairy godmother I never had but always wanted, reminding me to want more for myself and coaching me through the hurt and healing. After reading these affirmations every day for months and constantly repeating them to myself, I suddenly had a breakthrough moment one day. It struck me, like a jolt of the good kind of lightning — I’m finally ready to receive the love that I deserve.