The Psychology of The Selfie

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From Inspiration to Addiction, Have Your Selfie Habits Gone Too Far?

If you’ve become accustomed to posting daily selfies online and think you may be walking the line toward an unhealthy focus on your image, ask yourself honestly if you can relate to the following behaviours.

  1. You become obsessed, constantly thinking about opportunities to capture your best selfie, resulting in disruptions at work, school, and social engagements.
  2. You compulsively engage in the activity, taking multiple photos per day in an effort to get the “perfect” image to share.
  3. You deny that there’s a problem and hide the behaviour after family or close friends have voiced concern.
  4. You exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or BDD.

If any of these characteristics describe you or someone you know, now’s a good time to connect with a mental health professional. Support may be required to gain healthier management of this behaviour.

There seems to be no end to the selfie craze. In today’s highly connected society, it is so easy to feel the need to share our most personal information. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your story; you simply have to find balance and maintain it. Before you strike a pose, ask yourself why you engage in taking and posting selfies. Is it fun to share and connect, or are you yearning for “likes” and comments to boost your ego? If you are constantly refreshing your Facebook for updates, then it may be time to put a pause on selfies.

Improve Self-Esteem by Replacing Selfies with Positive Behaviours

Self-esteem simply means appreciating yourself for who you are; this includes your strengths, weaknesses, and all your wonderfully unique features. It’s not about ignoring areas that could use improvement, but rather focusing on the positive aspects that make you who are. To organically improve your self-esteem, try some of the following tips.

  1. Instead of posting your physical achievements, write down your accomplishments (project completion, college graduation, career advancement, sticking with something you’re tempted to quit) and post those on Facebook and Twitter!
  2. If you need a visual aid, rather than looking through a camera lens, take a peek in the mirror, quickly list all of your favourite attributes, and move on with your day. Limit how much time you spend analyzing your appearance. If needed, set a timer for five minutes to encourage yourself to move on to more productive tasks.
  3. Put away your phone and spend quality time with friends, in vivo! Conversation, sharing thoughts, and a few laughs does wonders for your well-being, both physically and mentally.
  4. Find activities you love and keep active. Exercise is one of the best antidotes to improved psychological health. And yes, the benefits can be achieved even without posting your training progressions and hot bod on social media!

It’s important to celebrate yourself and all your efforts. You put in the hard hours at the gym and made the sacrifices needed to get the body you want. Just remember that your value as a person isn’t defined by your physical appearance and extends far beyond what a camera can capture.


“Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. ADAA, 2010. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.


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Irene Petsopoulis is a licensed Psychologist with over 15 years of experience, as well as a Certified Coach Practitioner.  She is passionate about helping people achieve peak physical and emotional well-being using an innovative approach that combines psychotherapy techniques with exercise.  Irene has had her own journey in this regard and strongly upholds the belief that a body and mind connection is the key to optimal health and wellness.

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