How to escape the "COMPARISON TRAP"
In today’s society, we’re constantly absorbing information about what the people around us are doing. Thanks to social media, we know where they went on their holiday, what they were wearing and even what they had for breakfast! It’s great way to keep up to date on the lives of your loved ones but sometimes, it’s enough to drive us mad.
We’ve all been in a social media shame spiral, where you start on a friend’s profile and somehow end up on their cousin’s ex boyfriend’s sister’s profile an hour later. Or, you’ve scrolled through hundreds of photos of a toned, tanned Instagram models and find yourself regretting the burger you ate earlier. Not only is this an unproductive and unfulfilling use of time, it can also lead you straight into a comparison trap.
What is the comparison trap?
Put simply, the comparison trap is where you compare yourself to others. Whether you’re measuring your looks, achievements or possessions against those around you, it’s a surefire way to end up feeling pretty crappy.
While social media definitely exacerbates the issue, most of us first experienced the comparison trap at a young age. Perhaps your sibling was better at sport than you or your friend received a higher mark in a test and you felt a strange mix of envy and shame. As we get older, we tend compare ourselves not only to the people we know, but celebrities and public figures too. Unfortunately, this is especially the case for women!
But in the wise words of comedian Louis C.K: “The only time you should look in your neighbour's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbour's bowl to see if you have as much as them.” Why? Because the comparative cycle is exhausting and can wreak havoc on your confidence and self-esteem. There’s a reason people say that comparison is the thief of joy! The good news is, there are a few ways you can change your mindset to avoid falling into the comparison trap.
1. Practice gratitude
When you compare yourself to others, you tend to lose sight of all the good things in your own life. But by practicing gratitude daily, you can become more appreciative of who you are, what you have and what you’ve achieved. Once you’re in the mindset of feeling like ‘enough’ it’s far easier to admire what someone else has without necessarily wanting it for yourself. Some great activities to help you with this include writing in a gratitude journal each morning or starting a gratitude jar.
2. Celebrate difference
Flowers are beautiful, but so are Christmas lights – and they look nothing alike! Just because you look different or have different skills to the person you admire, doesn’t mean you’re inferior to them. You can admire someone else’s beauty or intelligence without questioning your own. None of us are any better or worse than anybody else, just different. So, feel free to admire those differences, but then get back straight into trying to become the best possible version of yourself.
3. Limit social media
What you see on someone’s social media feed is essentially a highlights reel of their life. We see the fancy new car, not the tins of canned tuna they had to live on for months to afford it. If you measure yourself against only the best parts of someone’s life, you’re always going to feel like you fall short. When you’re already feeling down or sad, you’re more vulnerable to the vicious comparison cycle. So, at these times, put down the phone and go for a walk or chat to a friend instead and be around people that lift your spirits.