Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your news feed and comparing your life to what you see on your screen? I think we all do it sometimes. We forget that it’s often the edited highlights that we see rather than the whole picture.
More importantly, none of us are on the same path. There’s so many variables in every life, every experience and every person’s traits. It’s unfair to compare ourselves to others.
I used to do it a lot in the early days of being stuck at home with chronic illness. If I had the energy to check in online, I’d find no end of photos on my timeline of my twenty-something peers on nights out, getting their first major career breaks and traveling the world. It was so depressing. So I stopped doing that to myself!
For a long time I didn’t look at my news feed often at all, until I was mentally strong enough to realise that I was living my life, not theirs. No matter how limited that was at the time. And while I might not have been traveling the world, I’d congratulate myself if I was able to get out to a nearby cafe, or able to say “no”, without feeling guilty, to a favour I didn’t have the energy for. These were my mini victories, my small wins with big boosts to my self-esteem.
Here’s 5 tips on how to deal with comparing yourself to others:
- Awareness is key to making any change, so if you start to notice that your news feed is bringing you down, stop. Close the app or browser tab and breathe.
- Remind yourself that friends’ social media updates are usually edited and filtered versions of their lives. So that girl you went to school with took a selfie of her shiny, freshly blow-dried hair? Maybe that was because the baby was just sick in her hair half an hour earlier when she was getting ready for work. It might look like she has time for pampering despite being a working mum, but actually it was out of necessity and put her under time pressure! [This is a completely made-up scenario, by the way.]
- Make a list of everything you’ve achieved so far that day (or the previous day, if it’s still early) no matter how small. A good idea to keep your focus is, each evening before you go to sleep, make a list of everything you got done that day. (Remember that the mini-wins are just as important to this list as any major achievements).
- Remember that the only fair comparison you can make is with yourself. What progress have you made on something you’ve been working on? How has your life changed for the better in the past [x] years?
- A fair comparison with yourself really needs to be exactly that. Do it with self-compassion and without criticism. Life doesn’t always go as planned and things beyond our control happen. It’s how we respond that matters. I’ve heard it said by at least 3 personal development big names that an airplane is off-course over 90% of the time. Whether this is true or not, I like the analogy all the same: The pilot doesn’t just go where the wind takes her, regardless of where the plane is meant to be heading, she adjusts course accordingly. We can do the same.
How do you handle the urge to compare yourself to others? What works for you? Comment below!