It’s safe to say that social media has shifted how we experience the world and how we express ourselves in a way unlike anything else in history.
While social media helps us connect with others, it also comes with its problems.
One particular problem that affects virtually everyone is comparison culture.
Wherever we look, we see the ‘highlight reels’ of everyone’s life and rarely do we know about a person’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ life.
Because of this, many people unconsciously compare ourselves to others. And every aspect of what we do, from our appearance to our jobs, from the food we eat to how we relate to each gets framed against other people’s experiences.
It’s important to be aware of this matter and to deal with it as best as possible.
The most problematic part of comparison culture is that people feel defeated when they try to grow. Ask yourself if you’ve done the following at any time:
- Have you started to learn painting or drawing and then quit because people on social media made ‘better’ art?
- Do you give up on healthy eating habits and exercise because a stranger on social media has a ‘perfect’ body and you don’t?
- Has jealousy over another person’s career and academic success led you to overwork yourself to neglect other aspects of life?
I think we’ve all done something like this. It’s easy to feel stressed out when we compare ourselves to others. And out of frustration, we don’t enjoy our hobbies as much or take creative risks.
As challenging as it is to deal with comparison culture, it is possible. Let’s look at practical ways to bring your focus back to yourself and to avoid letting the fear of not enough keeping you down.
Start with awareness
Any change in life begins with awareness. Start by asking yourself the questions we saw in the introduction. Do you think you can learn something new or do something different without worrying about how it compares to other people’s actions? The answer should be ‘Yes!’
When you feel more aware about your own behavior, you’ll note your mental reactions to other people’s pictures and content.
And when you feel negative thoughts arising, you’ll be able to dismiss them more easily.
Avoid social media
This really is the most important step that you can take for your mental and emotional well-being. There are numerous studies linking increased anxiety and depression with the use of social media. There are several practical steps you can take to reduce social media usage:
- Remove most of the apps you have on your phone. The more difficult it is to access content, the less likely you are to reach for it again
- Unfollow and remove connections who aren’t close friends and family. Stay connected with people who bring positive energy into your life
- Use social media blocking apps that forcibly block social media pages after a specific time limit
- Do something different like reading, drawing, coding, or talking to people face-to-face to make up for your usual social media habit
Get in touch with your authentic self
Breaking off from social media can feel uncomfortable at first. But it also creates a mental space where you can start to explore how you really feel and think.
When you don’t have external content to compare yourself against, you can set your standards against your previous accomplishments.
So, if you’ve started a small business and have a few customers, then you’re more likely to feel proud of yourself and work harder than if you followed others who showcased results at a larger scale.
When you avoid comparing yourself to others, you also open yourself up to opportunities in life. I went from being a full-time registered nurse to a Stay-at-home-Mom to a plugin developer. This was possible because I had time that wasn’t occupied with unhelpful thoughts.
When you stop concerning yourself with other people’s achievements, you’ll find the path that’s right for you.
Awareness of comparison culture can free you and help you find more joy in life. You’ll be able to move towards more helpful states of being that include self-acceptance and playful exploration of your abilities. And you’ll experience long-term happiness that comes from meeting your potential.