How self-improvement has become a toxic trend
Self Improvement

How self-improvement has become a toxic trend

TikTok is full of tips for self-improvement,
helping us find new ways to be more productive, peaceful, efficient,
self-compassionate and well-rounded every time we switch on the app.

Self-help hashtags are growing in popularity –
#WorkOnYourself has 119.5 million views, #GetYourLifeTogether has over 40
million and #SelfLoveLifestyle has nearly three million. It seems like everyone
is scrolling for self-improvement, and it’s made so much easier with seemingly
countless videos at your fingertips – but the pressure to be better all the
time can get overwhelming.

Surely we can’t all be bettering ourselves all the
time? And at what point does our desire to be better actually become a burden?

Social media can make us feel inferior

When it comes to self-help, “Most of us want a
quick fix – somebody to tell us what to do and make things better”, suggests
Gillian McMichael, author and founder of Full Circle Global.


“We are in an age of social media overload – we
compare and contrast ourselves to others and we want what they have. Never has
there been a time like now, where keeping up with the Joneses has a whole new
meaning. Social media platforms showcase how we can get our goals, change our
lives and better ourselves. But because it is in a short 30-second clip, we
don’t know how to apply this to our own lives.”

And this constant bombardment of self-improvement
content can become exhausting.

“With social feed overload, it is difficult to
decide what top tips or ideas we should take on and do something with, as the
next day there will be thousands more reels telling us to do something
different – it’s confusing and unsustainable,” says McMichael. “Quick fixes
never work in any aspect of your life, especially your wellbeing – I think this
approach adds pressure and can give false expectations.”


We only see the best bits

Max Hovey is an influencer who focuses on
empowering the LGBTQ+ community and promoting body positivity and self-compassion.

“The idea of being your perfect self has always
been a pressure from social media,” he says, adding that our obsession with
self-improvement is the “natural evolution” of this.

“Everyone has their own struggle, and the pressure
constantly to be ‘getting your life together’ is incredibly toxic,” he
suggests. “The idea of ‘having it together’ doesn’t exist. I find it unlikely
that the people creating this content have it together and don’t have other
stuff going on in the background.

“We are showing all the great things in life and
not showing anything else that is going on, making other people feel bad about
themselves.”

The business of being perfect

Not all self-help on social media is toxic, with
McMichael saying: “I think there are a handful of skilled professionals sharing
their tips and techniques with a wider audience. But there are a lot of people
jumping on the bandwagon because wellness, self-improvement and transforming
your life is in vogue now more than ever.”

In recent years, “The awareness of mental health
has significantly grown and everyone wants to better themselves,” McMichael
says. “Hence, we are more informed, meaning these topics are now more
relatable.”

However, McMichael recommends bettering yourself
for the right reasons – and in a sustainable way. “The reality is simple, you’d
be much happier if you invested in self-improvement and self-care because you
wanted to find balance rather than the perfection that is presented. If you are
looking to change your life, then find a qualified coach to support you –
rather than somebody on TikTok who is not qualified or experienced enough to
give you advice on what you should do.”