It is one of the worst maladies of the 21st century, heightened by the use of social media. Never before have we had such a window into what everyone else around us is doing, wearing and seeing. Comparison is natural. It helps us to understand where we ‘fit’ in comparison to our peers. It can be constructive comparison, reminding us of what matters to us, encouraging us to strive harder. It can give us that penultimate push to the finish line. If comparison enables us to galvanise ourselves, it is useful. If it paralyses us, it is a destructive habit. More often than not, comparisons make us feel rubbish, lost and like total failures. So, how do we stop?
Just don’t look
We give power to what we look at, and there is so much to look at. We can type absolutely anything into our phones. We can passively absorb endless information via Facebook or Instagram. If we don’t look, we can’t compare. Does this sound too simple? Well, it can be! Understand your triggers and make a point of avoiding anything that encourages unhelpful comparisons. Don’t scroll through social media feeds, fast-forward past adverts and avoid mud-slinging over other people’s life decisions. Minimise the number of things that you find yourself comparing yourself to. Be brutal. Simply cut them out. Our ancestors lived long lives without constantly seeing what everyone else was up to on Facebook! In this sense, ignorance can be bliss.
Get real with yourself
Sometimes, comparisons rock us to our core because they remind us of something we want or feel that we’ve lost. Perhaps you are comparing your relationship status because you are in an unhappy relationship or not enjoying the singles scene. Maybe you are comparing your child to their peers in school. They seem so angelic and yours is so misbehaved! Perhaps you’re comparing your figure, not to plastic, photo-shopped, filtered bodies, but to those around you. Is this because you don’t feel you’ve taken care of your body? These comparisons can actually be alarm bells that we need to respond to. By comparing, we can get real about what is and isn’t working in our own life’s. This can encourage us to make proactive change. Don’t be afraid to get a strange stirring, especially if it seems to be in one or two particular areas of life, this could be a sign to change something up.
Keep your head down
If you’re focusing on your own path, it’s hard to be distracted by what others are doing. You’re too busy training, learning, writing, teaching, travelling, loving and taking action. It is when we stop to look around that we can begin to compare. It is when we are unhappy with where we are, or uncertain of our trajectory, that we start to think everyone else knows what they are doing! Keep focused on what you are doing. Work on that relationship, or leave it. Keep writing that book. Keep going to the gym. Keep your focus on YOUR own goals. Don’t worry so much about what others are doing. Be an example.
Be smart with social media
Social media is both a blessing and a curse and has completely changed the landscape of how we relate to ourselves and others. Many people do things just for social media, rather than because they want to. We can project an image of ourselves that doesn’t match how we feel on the inside, or what we are dealing with that day. Understanding that social media is a smokescreen that often highlights people’s best bits, can help us to take it all with a pinch of salt. It’s easy to log on and think that absolutely everyone is on a constant holiday, but depending on the size of your friends list, at any one time chances are someone will be off on a trip. This doesn’t mean that others aren’t poorly, watching TV or having fights with their spouses. Limit your social media use, try not to scroll through your newsfeed and hide the profiles of anyone whose updates force you into the comparison trap. It’s not a weakness to do this. In fact, it shows you are taking your mental health seriously. In terms of your own posting, think, is this useful, entertaining or meaningful in some way? If not, re-consider posting.
Boost your self-esteem
Comparisons can hit our self-esteem hard. Just as there is always someone with less, there is always someone with more, leaving us to feel that we aren’t good enough. If you look for it, you can always find someone better than you. But what qualifies as better? Do they really have more value because they have more money, better looks or an impressive career? No. all of these things are transient and don’t reflect how a person feels inside. Consistently working on your own self-esteem is essential if you want to feel happy for others, rather than comparing yourself unfavourably to them. Of course, the quest for self-esteem can be a life’s work, so better to start now!
Remember, no-one has it all figured out
Little secret, no-one knows what the hell they are doing. Some people just talk a better game. It’s easy to look over the fence and think that everyone is doing so much better than you, but they might just be good at putting on a show. When the curtain comes down, they may feel just as lost, unsure and insecure. Focus on your own dazzling light. Count your blessings and remember, if you feel unhappy, you have the power to change either your circumstances or your attitude towards them.
All my love