(Originally published on The Change Blog)
“Comparison is the thief of joy." - Franklin Roosevelt
Earlier this week I lost hours of my life.
I sat down at my computer to do a little work at 8pm, and poof, when I looked at the clock it was midnight.
Where had the hours gone?
I had been sucked into the vortex of social media and comparison Big-Time.
What started as a little check-in on my Instagram and Facebook page quickly turned into a click-a-thon onto other people’s pages.
It began innocently enough, but in no time at all, I was in the wormhole that is comparison.
By the time I emerged, I felt like crap. I was JEALOUS with a capital "J."
Everyone else had more followers. More likes. Better websites. Better pictures. Better programs. Better style. Better everything.
What was I doing with my life? Why was I even bothering?
I was in full on green-eyed monster mode. And, then I had myself a good ‘ole sob fest.
Turns out, I’m not alone.
According to research, people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others. People make all sorts of judgements about themselves, and one of the key ways we do this is through social comparison. (Read more here)
Two recent studies found that people who used Facebook the most frequently had lower self-esteem than those who used Facebook less or not at all. Chronic Facebook users experienced negative impact from comparing themselves to others who are "better" than them. (Read more here)
Great, so I'm not the only one. But, now what?
After I had pulled myself out of the social media black hole and back into the real world, my jealousy got me thinking.
What if there is a way to turn those feelings of lack around?
What if, instead of comparing myself to those I thought were “better”, I flipped the script and let comparison be an example of what’s possible?
If we’re naturally prone to compare, what if I used comparison as a form of motivation?
Want to exorcise your green-eyed monster demons with me?
Here are a few tips:
- While I know eliminating time on social media isn't a reality for most of us, try minimizing the time you spend on social media platforms. Research suggests Americans check their social media 17 times per day. Something tells me we can get that number down. (Read more here)
- Remind yourself that most people are posting their most polished, shiny, and literally filtered part of their life to share.
- Still feeling the pull to scroll and feeling less than worthy as you do? Take a look at what you're feeling. What is it you feel you're lacking? What are you jealous of? Be a detective and dig deep, sometimes it isn't what's on the surface. For example, we might feel jealous of a celebrity and attribute our jealousy to their looks or success. When we dig a little deeper, though, we realize we're jealous of the love and adoration we link those qualities with and feel we're missing.
- Take the ick out of jealously and look at it as a tool to help you figure out what you would like more of in your life. How can you cultivate more of what you feel you're lacking?
- Look at the person you envy and ask yourself, "How am I like this person?" By seeing how you are alike, you can see their success as a real possibility for you. As yourself, "How is this an example of what is possible for me? How can this motivate me?"
- "Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Jon Acuff Be aware of where you’re at in your journey. So often, we’re comparing our beginner selves to someone else’s years of experience. We can’t see all of the hard work, time, and dedication that went behind the picture or post we’re seeing today. How can you honor where you’re at in your life? How can you use this knowledge as inspiration for what's possible for you when you reach your "middle"?
I’d love to hear from you! How do you handle comparison?