Comparison is the thief of joy
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~Theodore Roosevelt.
This couldn’t be truer now that comparisons take place 24/7 online. When you compare, your view becomes distorted — you diminish your own value, disconnect yourself from your own life and relationships, and feel depleted — and yet we all do it and can’t stop.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick
We all have certain triggers that can cause our confidence to take a sudden nosedive.
For some, it’s a trip to the gym. If you’re self-conscious of your body, watching fit people strut their stuff in their tightest fitting gym clothes or in most cases hardly any clothes, likely has you over-analyzing your every body part.
For others, it may be a certain individual—a family member, friend, or enemy that, for whatever reason, leaves them with the dreaded feeling that they just aren’t enough.
We all know the gut-wrenching feeling that arises when we see or hear something that immediately has us second-guessing our appearance, personality, or skill set.
Unfortunately, social media provides us with numerous platforms that help to quickly trigger that unpleasant feeling of I’m not good enough. Sometimes it’s scrolling through Facebook, wondering how every friend has got married to the perfect man and has a beautiful family, or snagged the perfect job. Or it’s thumbing through the black hole of the Instagram search page, jealous that everyone is having fun travelling the world with the perfect body yet it still seems they can eat whatever they want from their food posts!…. except you.
The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media.
The arrival of a new baby and a recent trip to the Caribbean are both ideal picture-posting occasions. But do these same people post photos of 2 a.m. feedings or lost luggage? Not often, because that wouldn’t show them in an ideal light, but it would provide a sense of reality.
Another important point to mention is that if you are stalking a certain fitness model for instance, who always looks perfect, the likelihood will be that if you saw her walking down the street you wouldn’t recognise her… I’m not saying this to be a bitch or anything but HELOOO FILTERS AND PHOTO SHOP…! There are so many apps out there that you can use to make yourself into a different shape, a different colour, you can even make yourself older or younger for God’s sake! I have been tempted myself to give these a go a while back but then I saw someone I knew putting up photos using said apps and she didn’t even look like the same person… I feel sad when I see this happening because her actions, like many others are instigating that she doesn’t think she is good enough the way she is, she has to change her appearance in some way first. What happened to embracing who we are?
Society and social media take away any reality. We emphasize the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions. However, we fail to step back and recognize just how wildly unfair and unrealistic these comparisons actually are. Spending time on social media, and more specifically, comparing ourselves to others on social media, has become a big part of our lives. And it’s having an impact on our mental health.
The Scientific Link Between Social Media and Mental Health
A recent study in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal found that Facebook use can be associated with lower self-esteem, poorer mental health, and greater body shame. Those who have left Facebook immediately experience a boost in life satisfaction and positive emotions.
Similarly, a few years ago, researchers from Lancaster University examined studies from 14 countries, with 35,000 participants over the age of 15, to determine the link between social media and depression. They found that frequent social media users often compare themselves with others, leading to overthinking and rumination, which can manifest into feelings of depression.
How to Reduce Social Media Comparisons
The ugly side of social media doesn’t have to be its dominant side, however. Here are a few steps you can take to have a healthy relationship with social and get out of the comparison trap:
1. Know your triggers (and avoid them)
You may click on your social media apps innocently, but deep down you know when and where things start to take a turn for the worst. Is there a certain person that makes you feel inferior? Are there certain accounts you should avoid? People, places, and things that disconnect you with your own life don’t bring you value. Avoid anything that causes envy and do your best to avoid them. There IS and unfollow button! DO IT! Your mental health with thank you for it.
2. Reduce your time on social media
Managing your social media intake isn’t easy. We’ve become accustomed to scrolling through these apps to pass time and gather information, but also out of habit when we feel nervous or anxious. To make sure you’re using your social media time constructively, give yourself a designated amount of time (no more than 20 minutes a day) to check your social media accounts. Some apps, like Instagram, log this for you.
3. Try to figure out why you’re making comparisons
Usually, comparisons are grounded in things we are self-conscious about. By analyzing what you’re letting your mind gravitate towards, you can make note of things you can change — in a positive way.
For example, it’s common to compare your body to another. This can quickly spiral into an unhealthy habit, but if it’s something that’s on your mind, consider putting together a healthy lifestyle plan with a nutrition coach to eat better and exercise more. Instead of admiring someone else’s commitment to their well-being, focus on yours by taking the steps needed to become the best version of yourself. When you really want something but your not doing it, this is when the compassion monster explodes within you. This is because the person you are comparing yourself to is a reflection of you…when you see someone else doing something or looking a certain way that you know your capable of but not taking steps towards, that’s when the comparison is at its worst. When you’re on your own journey doing what you can every day towards your goals, it’s a lot easier not to compare and you feel proud of the steps your taking.
4. Focus on quiet instead of noise
Meditating or sitting quietly when you realize your social media session isn’t being beneficial to your life can help put you back on the right path. If you sit with your thoughts and let them naturally come and go, you’ll feel more grounded than if you stay on the social media path and let your mind create more destructive and likely made up stories.
5. Instead, Compare Yourself to…Yourself
“Be Yourself, Everyone else Is Taken!”~Some wise person
Remember, the only person who it is fair to compare yourself to is you. Take time to ask yourself: Are you a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday? Have you improved in ways you wanted to from where you were a year ago?
If you’re not, that’s also ok…! Show yourself compassion, always. Become your own personal detective. Use the magic word… why.
Example: You say you have been wanting to start the gym or start a healthy eating regime for a long time but you just haven’t started anything yet. Ask yourself WHY… get real with yourself, you already have all the answers inside of you so it’s just a matter of getting quiet enough to find them. When you have found out why you haven’t started, then you can come up with a plan to work through that.
Most of the time a lack of self-love and focusing on fear is the reason why most people don’t go after what they want. BELIEVE in yourself you are perfect exactly the way you are right now… there is a reason why you are where you are now so by accepting that, being grateful for what you do have and focusing on the positives of what you want will bring great happiness and results into your life.
Before I finish I would like to add that Social Media doesn’t have to be all bad..! I LOVE to have a scroll through mine because I follow so many women that inspire me. When I surround myself with positive influencers who embrace their bodies no matter their size and when they go after what they want in life without letting the fear of failure stop them, it inspires me to love myself even more and to go for the things I want! So use social media to your advantage! Chose wisely who you follow and let onto your feed because you’re in control and let it be your inspiration and healthy motivation in life.