What a Sports Psychologist Can Teach Us About Social Media

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

First published on April 10 2021 on Medium.

UPDATE: I have since left social media because of the realization that soulful connections can't be nurtured or nourished whilst on social media. The seeds of these connections may stem from social media but these connections deepen elsewhere.

I used to live for the notifications that a new post would bring.

Bing. Someone likes my sweaty face.

Bing. Someone else finds it motivational.

Bing. Bing. Bing. Oh yes, I am winning with this post.

But then the notifications stop. Its short-lived existence has filled its part. It is time for the next one to be birthed.

And so the vicious cycle of seeking attention and gratification continues. Yet, the frustration and dissatisfaction are only deepening. Regardless, the chase for that momentary high of external validation and approval must go on.

A conversation between Brené Brown and the sports psychologist Dr. Pippa Grange on this episode of Dare to Lead podcast discussed the differences between shallow and deep wins. Although Dr. Grange’s theory is derived from sports psychology, it can easily be applied to our relationship with social media.

Our compulsive need for the instant gratification of pings would according to Dr. Pippa Grange be classified as a shallow win. It is a classic example of being stuck in that social media machine that can never truly be fulfilled. We keep up the constant stream of new posts to “avoid feeling “not good enough” or to beat the other person.”

No matter how many likes or follows we receive, we’re filled with self-doubt. We’re questioning our self-worth and basing it on external indicators such as likes, follows, and views. According to Dr. Grange, such a hole can never be filled with satisfaction or gratitude because it derives from the scarcity mindset.

“Why do I still feel bad? When will I win again?” — Dr Pippa Grange

We are stuck in that vicious cycle of dopamine hits that fuel our self-worth reserve. The problem is that we have no control over these external indicators. They could be taken away from us any second, leaving us empty, confused, and riddled with self-hatred. Instead of validating our own existence and feeling worthy from the inside out, we’ve accustomed ourselves to rely on others.

Dr. Pippa Grange has a solution for us. Instead of relying on shallow wins, we need to strive for deep wins. As Dr. Grange suggests, winning is not about the ego. Winning is about the soul. If we’re connected to our joy as much as we are to our struggles, we will be able to feel the richness of the win.

If we can disconnect our need to show up on social media from seeking external validation, acceptance, and approval, we will be able to share our lives and our messages with soul, vulnerability, and deep authenticity. We are able to separate our self-worth from the likes we receive because we know the why behind our social media use.

When we show up with soulfulness, vulnerability and authenticity, we’re able to connect ourselves to something outside of our individual existence. It is no longer about stroking our own ego but rather, we’re fulfilling a deeper role both individually and collectively.

Showing up on social media is not about the eternal fight for attention. Showing up on social media can be a way to cultivate deeper, more diverse connections and open up raw and honest conversations that will enrich our lives. But we will not get to that place of soulfulness with cookie-cutter content that chases likes, views, and follows.

Since social media is clearly here to stay, our challenge is to make it into something that enriches our lives instead of a vice that leaves us empty, unfulfilled, and disgruntled. But the responsibility does not lie on the individual alone. It lies on all of us as a collective.