TV Editor Kylie Clarke discusses the negative effects of the obsessive self-reflection that arises when we compare ourselves to what we see online.

TV Editor. MA Language, Culture and Communication.

In recent years, the concepts of self-awareness and social awareness have become popular points of discussion, particularly amongst social media communities, as we strive to become a more open, accepting and conscious society. Undoubtedly, it is important to have a sense of empathy and an awareness of your own thoughts and actions and how they can affect those around you, as well as being able to perceive others’ emotions. These abilities help us to strengthen our connections with those around us and can help us to become more considerate. 

However, a recent development which has been introduced to the discourse of self-awareness is the idea that being overly aware can actually do more damage than good to our mental health and interpersonal relationships. Many Tiktokers have spoken out on how their intense sense of discernment negatively affects their mindset on life and others. At what point are we too self-aware and what can we do to cope with this?

a lot of people find that reaching a certain point of self-awareness often leads to a state of overthinking

While it may seem strange to think of self-awareness, which is promoted as a good thing most of the time, as something potentially damaging, a lot of people find that reaching a certain point of self-awareness often leads to a state of overthinking. I am sure that many of us can relate to this. In a fast-paced, social media-immersed modern world where we are constantly bombarded with information, increased levels of social interaction and growing societal pressures to both look and do better, it is easy to understand why many people experience the issue of overthinking. 

Beyond the healthy level of self and social awareness, overthinking can include scrutinising your own perceived flaws or mistakes, your interactions with other people and the issues within society and the world around you an unhealthy amount. This leads to a negative self image, higher levels of anxiety and potential depression. Over analysing situations and your relationships with people can cause misinterpretation and feelings of judgement or distrust towards others.

Tiktokers have spoken out about how over analysing people and trying to discern their ‘true intentions’ causes them to dislike even their own family and friends, which can be a very isolating feeling. Others, however, have experienced the opposite feeling and said that this high level of empathy means that they are overly understanding of others’ actions and this allows them to be taken advantage of. Both viewpoints can be damaging and lead to toxic connections with others. 

An excessive level of awareness can restrict your enjoyment of life

An excessive level of awareness can restrict your enjoyment of life and prevent you from living in the present or experiencing moments as they happen. This can be very taxing and emotionally exhausting to deal with, and can make it difficult for your mind to relax. To reiterate my earlier point, it is still very important to have a good sense of self-awareness and empathy, as these qualities make you a well-rounded person and to not have them at all would be unhealthy. However, feeling too much emotion to the point that it is detrimental to your own mental health and your perspective on life can be just as unhealthy as having none at all. 

If you relate to this, there are some things that you can try to help you find a balance between positive self–awareness and too much awareness. Within this discourse, particularly using Tiktok as a platform, a community of people have offered each other advice on their own ways of dealing with this, although of course different methods may work for some and not for others. For many people, rather than trying to get rid of this feeling, they believe that it is possible to take this energy and pour it into useful hobbies, such as creative arts and journaling. These practices can allow you to feel and experience your emotions in the moment rather than over-analysing or dwelling on them.

It is important to be careful with what you focus your energy on.

Another popular practice which can help you to feel your emotions and to reconnect them with your body rather than living in your head is meditation. This can help to reduce levels of anxiety and stress and clear the mind. Others advised that it is important to make sure that you surround yourself with positive, understanding trustworthy people, as this can reduce over-analysing your interactions with others and make for connections which will not emotionally drain you. It is important to be careful with what you focus your energy on. 

While it is important to be self-aware and socially aware, it is also important to protect your own mental health. This issue of self-awareness and overthinking is a unified experience felt by many people. As a society, we should strive to find a balance between these aspects of ourselves in order to find enjoyment in the present moment. 

If you struggle with overthinking or feelings of anxiety and depression, there are some services which could help:


Anxiety UK 

Every Mind Matters


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