When faced with a barrage of social media vacation postings, Connor suggests: 'Remember that it's not a zero-sum game.'

Washington - I am smart enough to know that vacation envy is probably not the best way to shape my feelings about other people's summertime adventures.

Leslie Connor, a psychologist practicing in Wilmington, Delaware, confirms that. “There's probably a form of recognising your own feelings that's more positive than self-pity,” she says, “and that's empathy. I would not pity you, and you should not pity yourself.”

“Either one just makes you feel worse,” she says: “Poor me.” Self-pity, she says, “gives you no sense of being able to do anything. It's disempowering.”

“Envy can be a signal to make us reevaluate our home front,” she says. “Or it can be a cloud that darkens things instead of inspiring.”

When faced with a barrage of social media vacation postings, Connor suggests: “Remember that it's not a zero-sum game. If friends have a good time, it doesn't block your being happy. If you strictly look through the lens of envy, you'll always be on a seesaw, where they're up and you're down. In adult life, it doesn't pay to focus on that.”

Connor also reminds us not to be daunted by “Facebragging.” Remind yourself, she says, “I may be having a smaller vacation than you, but that doesn't tell me anything about you - and it doesn't make me feel insecure. If people's ego is involved, they have something to prove, and that can be a little contagious. That comes more out of a sense of inadequacy than strength. See it for what it is. You don't have to brag if you're secure.”

* LaRue is a freelance writer and director of writing programs at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn.