The Comparison Trap
Back when I was at school, we only got to hear about a fraction of the lives of other girls and family members, let alone acquaintances. Those days are long gone. Now, thanks to social media, we can see how people live, what they eat, where they go on holiday, how happy they look, how beautiful their families are and what a great life they are generally having!
And of course we all know that what we see is the curated ‘perfect’ version of themselves and their lives. Very few people put up photos of themselves on social media looking haggard and grey, tired and frumpy. And let’s be honest, it’s not what most of us want to see!
Consciously, we understand that the images we see and that we ourselves portray to the outside world is our ‘best version’, and yet unconsciously, we can fall into the comparison trap.
So my question to you is:
How often do you compare yourself unfavourably to others?
This is sadly, a sign of the times – the desire to do better and want more has been perpetuated for decades in the West and it has now filtered across the globe. This problem has always existed, as it is a normal part of human nature to compare ourselves to others. It’s a way for us to measure how we are doing by looking at our peers, to see whether we are achieving the goals we consider the right ones for ourselves.
It’s Not All Bad
Comparing ourselves to others can be a positive thing – it can increase healthy competition and spur us on to create and achieve more than we would have on our own.
When Does Comparing Become a Problem?
I always say to clients, if it’s a problem for you, then it’s a problem. If something is within balance and it’s not bothering you, the chances are you have it under control.
Comparing ourselves to others happens across age groups and sections in society – it is not just an issue associated with a particular age group, gender or section of society. For a number of people, the issue of ‘comparisonitis’ can present itself as imposter syndrome, especially in the workplace.
The Role of Social Media
Comparing ourselves is becoming more prevalent across different ages, genders and social groups and it can have a detrimental affect on our mental health.
To combat this issue of ‘comparisonitis’ I suggest the following:
- Remember that what we see is the curated version! When is the last time you posted a photo of your messy home or a video of your kids throwing a tantrum?
- List all of YOUR personal achievements, accomplishments and ambitions and any of the difficulties you have overcome. Remember where you have come from and where you are going!
- Look at your most popular photos on social media and consider how good your life looks from the outside to someone else, who’s looking in.
- Consider the problems some of your friends are facing. Would you swap your problems for theirs?
- Remember that we never really know what’s going on behind closed doors. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Focus on yourself. Think about the areas you you feel need development. Come up with a plan to help you create those changes.
- Work on your self-esteem. I have a number of low-cost workshops coming up which could help you.
- Seek help from a professional for support and guidance. Get in touch if you want to work with me.
I leave you with some quotes:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else’s life is a minute spent wasting yours.” Unknown
“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique, be memorable, be confident, be proud.” – Shannon L Alder
…and I would add: Be yourself x