As I lay in bed, after a long exhausting day, I scroll through social media...
"Hmmm, I wish my house looked like that, it's beautiful..."
I keep scrolling...
"I really must get back to the gym; these girls look amazing."
"I need new gym clothes; what is everyone wearing now?"
"I'm so tired, maybe I'll be a better Mum tomorrow..."
The thing is I am a pretty confident person, I haven't always been for those who don't know my story... quite the opposite to be honest...
But who I am today is pretty comfortable in her own skin...
Until we are faced with looking at a thousand other lives when we log onto social media.
Comparing ourselves (even if not consciously) to people that we may or may not even know.
Comparison is the thief of happiness. It takes us away from acceptance and into a world that we have to try and keep up in.
The Science behind Comparison
We are actually programmed to compare... and the reason for this is to figure out how we measure up to other people.
It tells us who we are, what we are good at and what we are not so good at.
The challenge we have is that it's a split-second decision in the background that we may not even realise we are making. The issue we have is that if we fixate on other people's highlight reels, it can soon become toxic.
When we get into the habit of comparing, we are knocking away at our confidence and our happiness and even putting our mental health at risk. We are wired for connection and belonging, so when we feel inadequate to someone, it creates distance and even loneliness because we feel we don't fit in.
The Real Effects of Comparing Yourself to Others
There have been studies after studies highlighting the damage caused by social media, not only to our mental health but also to our bank accounts.
We are flooded by products and services we do not need but are told we do to be better and to improve our relationships, lives, body.
And there is nothing wrong with spending money if it's things we want and need for us, not to impress others, or for a short term gain.
Falling into the comparison trap can not only cause you to overspend in an effort to keep up and fit in, but it also causes a lot of negative and anxious thoughts that can be difficult to snap out of, which increases the chance of anxiety and depression.
Things You Can Do to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
As I mentioned; at the beginning, I am still working on this myself. It's a conscious effort to not fall into the trap when it's everywhere we look.
So here are some little tips that can help you stay focused on your own life.
1. Be grateful
Gratitude gets bounded around a lot and there is a good reason. When we focus on the good things we have in our life, it stops us from obsessing over the things we are unhappy with or even the things we don't have.
Start small, it doesn't have to be in-depth and you may not even feel the change straight away, but what you are doing is cutting through the negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones. Over time you will program yourself to focus on the good things more than the bad.
2. See the highlight reel for what it is.
Social media is not real. Read that again. It is not real. From adjusted lighting, filters and even bum pads for those fitness influencers... I have seen it all. And so have you.
So much so that our real seems fake and our fake is now real. Our reality has become distorted.
And we just cannot compare our real life with someone's (potentially) fake snapshot.
If we spend all our emotional energy and even our money trying to keep up with a life we think we should be having, we are missing out on the life we have.
The effect that can have on our mental health can be detrimental so it's time to take your focus off them and put it back on you.
3. Focus on your strengths
We are so good at picking apart what we don't like or what we don't have but that stops us from appreciating what we do.
We get it confused like it's too egotistical if we celebrate what we are good at. We can still be humble and recognise what we've achieved and our own talents.
When we compare ourselves to others we feel worse about ourselves and it's a dangerous trap we can fall into.
Try listing a few things you really like about yourself. Don't be boring, spend some time thinking about how personal the qualities are to you, rather than generic statements.
Boring generic statement: "Good communication skills"
Personal in-depth statement: "I love talking to people. Communicating is more than just talking though, it is listening and hearing too. I love to know I have made someone feel heard and valued."
4. Learn to be content
Being grateful for the things in your life allows you to work from a place of contentment.
This doesn't mean you can't have goals and dreams and even be unsatisfied, but it does mean you are happy where you are in life and you accept who you are today.
There is a nice feeling of peace when you are able to enjoy your life today without basing all your happiness on our wishes for tomorrow.
5. Be able to celebrate the successes of others
When we are stuck comparing ourselves to others it stops us from cheering on others who are working on their own goals and even harder for us to celebrate those who have already accomplished things in their life.
You don't need to feel like you are losing just because someone else is winning. If someone shares some good news, whether that be a new job, a new home or a change they are making in their life, share the moment and keep the focus on them instead of making it about yourself.
Someone else's success has nothing to do with you and you can celebrate them AND keep working towards your own success.
A sincere compliment and congratulations can feel amazing, not only to receive but also to give!
6. Understand you are your only real competition
Instead of seeing everyone else as a measuring stick for how good you are or more than likely how NOT good enough you are. Focus on your own goals.
Reflect on how far you've come, where were you this time last year? What about three or even five years ago?
Even if you reflect only on the last three months, you will have learned, improved and grown from not only the successes but also the losses. There will also be many lessons during that time. Now imagine if you are looking back and paying attention to the last few years and the growth that occurred?
We concentrate so much on how far we have got to go we don't stop to consider how far we've come already.
7. Set boundaries on how much time you spend on social media
As mentioned above, comparing ourselves on social media can really impact our mental health. Maybe it's time to set some limits to how you use it?
Set a timer to prompt you to step away from scrolling. There is nothing quite as fast as an Insta reel hour!
Turn your phone on silent when you are having dinner with friends and family. Being fully present makes not only them happier but yourself too.
Ask yourself why you are going on there anyway? At that moment, are you bored? uncomfortable or seeking some form of validation? What could you be doing to feel better about yourself?
Unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself! If it's someone close you can mute their updates and they won't even know!
Remember, you are not obligated to reply to every comment and message. Value your time!
Focus on the quality of your life not the quantity of your likes.
Fitting it and keeping up should not be the motivation you need to do anything, on social media or otherwise. Stressing over how many people have watched your story or how many likes your latest picture has received will have you spending time, effort and money looking for approval you do not need.
Focus on you... all the way. A good way to step away from comparison and into your life is to journal. A small little bit every day to focus on you, your wins, your gratitude and your goals will keep you busy focusing on yourself!
Plus it's a nice little reminder of how far you've come when you look back at your journal entries from the past.
Here's to love, laughter and living your happily ever after xx