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
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!