Comparing Yourself To Others
Why can’t I be like ——-? I’m nothing compared to them.
Social comparison means that you judge your own self worth by determining how you stack up against others.
Humans have long used social comparison to measure their success and map out areas for self-improvement. It can be a useful way to keep on track. One can imagine our ancestors competing over the biggest catch and comparing notes about the sharpness of their stone tools. Back then, social comparison was an important way to gain knowledge; to become more proficient/adapted for survival. It was essential to transmit culture and ensure evolution.
Today you are flooded with images on social media. Comparisons are everywhere. The problem is that you don’t need to know most of what you see to ensure your survival. So what does your brain do with all this comparative information? That depends on your mental health. On your good days, you are more likely to feel happy for those people you see on your Instagram feed. But on bad days, and if you’re suffering, you’re more likely to feel slighted and insecure.
Social comparison allows depression, envy, and resentment to fester.
When I was attending university in the early ’90s, I was a research assistant in a national study on social comparison and depression. I learned that one feature of the way people think when they are depressed is that they compare themselves to others instead of focusing on themselves. Think of how rife this is now – decades after this study – with the exposure we have on social media to the delusion of the ‘perfect’ life. What we look like, i.e. our
What to do if you feel bad when you compare yourself to others:
- If you feel resentful or envious, try to sit with this feeling. Understand it and write about it. Is what you want attainable or an unreachable ideal? Can this feeling propel you or does it keep you stuck? If what you want is attainable, think about steps you can take to get there. If you simply cannot have what you want, you must grow gratitude for what is. Make a list of things you’re grateful for or design a gratitude jar that you can add to daily.
- Stay off social media when you feel sour. The images are filtered and skewed. Looking at other people’s filtered photos and narratives can’t possibly help you feel better. Lean into your own awesomeness and self soothe.
- Write some affirmations. An affirmation is a helpful statement you repeat to yourself. Remember an affirmation is meant to be read, repeated, and written – even posted somewhere you can see it – to give you the strength of conviction!
Here is your affirmation:
“Your unique gifts and talents are arranged in a constellation of divine perfection that completes the shape of YOU! No one else can replicate what YOU offer the world. Go out and be great.”
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