Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison

Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison

Social comparison is an epidemic. It is all too easy to check in on social media and find a constant reminder that you are not where you want to be in life. For me, the worst of my social comparison came in college. I had a lot of struggles with comparing myself to other girls on campus. My school was cliquey, and all the “it-girls” lived together in one residence hall. If you weren’t in that hall,no one knew who you were. At all.

Back then, I envied the UGG boot and North Face fleece trend that those girls sported, knowing that I could never afford it on my 15-hour per week income. I struggled how picture perfect those girls looked as they, one by one, would flash their engagement rings during senior year, and I’d sit and wonder when it was my turn. (“Ring by Spring” was a big deal at my school. If you weren’t engaged by 22, something was wrong with you.) As a result, I developed a lot of unhealthy habits and poor mental health that stuck with me for many years– all because I fell into the trap of social comparison.

I’m not alone in this. Some of the most common comparisons people make are body image, financial stability, relationships, and general life successes (#adulting). Unfortunately, social comparison leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even relationship issues. Today, we’ll outline several ways to break the cycle of social comparison.

Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison

Take a Social Media Break

Social media is great. I love connecting to my old friends and making new ones. But social media can also be toxic. Guys, don’t be afraid to delete your social media accounts, even if temporarily. If it will save your mental health, it is worth disabling. If you’re not willing to let go of social media completely, (bloggers, I’m looking at you!) consider uninstalling the apps that trigger you the most from your phone, and vow to only check your accounts when you’re in front of a computer. After all, your worth is not determined by how you compare on social media.

Your worth is not determined by how you compare on social media. Click To Tweet

[Related: Six Ways to Stay Strong during Tough Times]

Compare Yourself to Yourself

If you have to make a comparison, compare yourself to where you used to be. There is little more humbling than reflecting on your emo high school days, where your biggest problem was why you weren’t allowed to dye your hair a crazy color (Or was that just me? I have purple hair now, so we good.) In all seriousness, take a moment to reflect back. What would 2007 you be proud of now in 2017? Comparing yourself to other people takes time away from improving yourself. Reflect on how far you’ve come.

Make Authentic Connections

When you’re distanced from the people you idolize, it’s easier to believe that they have perfect lives. But when you get to know people, you’ll quickly learn that they are just as human as you. Foster real, authentic relationships as much as possible. Comparison does not propel you forward, but connection does. So reach out, foster community over competition, and make a new friend. People are kind and genuine when you reach out with good intentions. And if they aren’t, it certainly isn’t worth comparing yourself to them.

Comparison does not propel you forward, but connection does. Click To Tweet

[Related: The Complete Guide to Making Friends as an Adult]

Stop Minimizing your Achievements

Friends, this is huge. If you’ve achieved something, no matter how small, it is worth celebrating. Stop believing that you must do something big in order for your life to be meaningful. There is no accomplishment or step forward that is too small to feel good about. Practice gratitude for what you have and what you’ve done.

Stop believing that you must do something big in order for your life to be meaningful. Click To Tweet

With that being said,

Set Realistic Goals

If you struggle with social comparison, ask yourself: is it reasonable for you to compare yourself, where you are, to where someone else is? What is stopping you from pursuing what you want? If you decide that you’re making an unrealistic comparison, recognize that the comparison game is not serving you and set some reasonable goals for yourself. Set goals that you are confident you cannot fail. No goal is too small if it leads to a better life.

No goal is too small if it leads to a better life. Click To Tweet


How have you broken the cycle of social comparison? Real talk: What are you struggling with right now? I got’chu friend. Let’s talk in the comments!

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Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison

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  • Carissa Link

    This is so great! I used to be like this in college – it was so difficult. And I even would tell myself in my head, “you can’t compare your life to others from social media. They could be struggling just the same”. Such a good read, definitely sharing!

  • You couldn’t have said it better! My personal coping mechanism is to remember that everyone struggles with something. Some just choose to share or not share their personal battles.

  • Candice Schenk

    I guess this is something a lot of women struggle with. Goodness – I certainly suffer from comparing myself to other moms/women. I have found that – like you said- taking a Social Media break helps! It’s an ongoing battle. Thank you for sharing!

  • Cat Asteriou-Bintliff

    I struggle with the adult thing. I had a very late start with life (and am still struggling to be an “adult” in many ways) so seeing my peers appearing so well off and successful just rips me to shreds. I forget that I have achieved A LOT in the past two years, and instead focus on my numerical age. I feel like I will never achieve the happiness, stability, and success that those around me seem to have and tend to shut myself out and avoid socializing (“they won’t like me, I’m nothing compared to them.” or “they’ll like me until they see how pathetic I am.”) Unfortunately, some family members tend to focus on that too and help me perpetuate the self pity sometimes.

    • Wow Cat that’s awful! That makes me sad to hear that your family says stuff like that. Hopefully these tips gave you some ideas :/

      • Cat Asteriou-Bintliff

        Oh, they absolutely helped a ton! Comparing myself to a past me resonated the most, and I will be keeping that in mind 🙂 thanks as always for a lovely post.

  • I actually deleted my Snapchat this week because I felt like I was competing with people there (most are friends I knew for years) and it got to the point where I was oversharing to show them that life was great. It’s horrible! It’s been a few days but now I’m noticing to live my own life and not worry about what others are doing.

    • I’m glad you were able to figure out what your limit is, and that you’ve been able to move forward and live your own life!

  • This is such a real thing for so many people, including myself. I actually started unfollowing accounts that made me feel bad about myself or my life, because I couldn’t control my envy. Which isn’t their fault, obviously, but it’s good to be in control of what you expose yourself to.

    • I think the fact that you were able to find your limits and do something about them is great!

  • Lori Hawkins Jackson

    I LOVE this! I have watched it become a huge problem in my family. I have daughters that are obsessed with the lifestyle bloggers they follow. They compare and idolize this unrealistic persona. I think it is called Lifestyle Porn because of how addicted we become to it. Great points and critical for us to all become more aware of how social media affects us mentally!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    Yes!!! You are so spot on with this. It is a viscous cycle and can be so hard to stop. I love that you said compare yourself to yourself. That is all that matters. Am I the best version of myself? How can I be the best version of myself? We, ourselves, are the measurement not someone else. Love this so much!

  • I love this! It’s so easy to start comparing ourselves to others based on what we see online and it can really take a toll on us mentally, emotionally and physically. These are great ideas to help beat that!

  • First of all, your posts have been so on point this week. I’ve loved every single one. Second, this is such an important message. It feels so draining to be constantly comparing ourselves to other people. Usually I’m okay at this but I caught myself the other day feeling bad because of all the engagements and baby announcements on my newsfeed.

    • Thanks Megan, that means so much to me for you to say that! I think we all go through low points like what you’re describing. What is important is that you notice it and are able to do something about it 🙂

  • These are great ways to help people avoid comparing themselves to others!

  • Elizabeth Colette

    These are all great. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that people just post the good stuff on social media, they don’t post the bad stuff. No one is perfect!

  • Yes to all of this! I noticed that when I am feeling especially low or comparing myself to others, taking a break from social media helps a ton!

  • I love this! Comparison is something that is hard to break, but it needs to be broken! If I ever get into the trap, I always think about what I’ve done and ways I can change my thinking positively.

    The Felicia Renee | a minimalist lifestyle & beauty blog

  • I used to be (and still am sometimes) THE WORST at minimizing achievements – nothing I would do would be good enough for myself. No bueno! It takes all fun out of everything!

    Coming Up Roses

  • Yolanda

    Yep, going on to social media is hard sometimes as no one EVER posts the bad stuff. So, you end up comparing and wondering why their lives seem so perfect. Always good to remember that they are not!

  • Taylor Mead

    I love this! Comparison is really deadly and we all have so much to offer. We can never realize our full potential if we are too busy focusing on everyone else. Thanks for this!!

    xo, Taylor || The Millennial Sprinkle (