Comparison often starts at a young age. It can begin with something simple like wishing you had the same new toy as one of your classmates. As you grow older, you may find yourself comparing your appearance, talents, or grades to your friends', wishing you could be more like them.
In adulthood, you may find yourself scrolling through social media and seeing friends celebrating things like promotions, engagements, or new babies and feel behind in life. Comparison can become dangerous because it steals your joy and causes you to focus on what you don't have instead of what you do have. While it is a hard habit to break, learning to avoid comparison can improve your mental health and self-esteem.
Comparison is often associated with feelings of jealousy, hopelessness, and frustration. You may even find yourself unintentionally starting to resent those you compare yourself to because they have something that you don't. In time, comparison can lead to serious mental health consequences like anxiety and depression.
One of the most dangerous things about comparison is that it is often not based on truth. People don't often advertise their bad days or the personal struggles they are going through. While they may seem to be happy and have it all together, it may be that just out of frame or just as they stop the recording, things aren't as perfect as they seem. This is why social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are often referred to as a “highlight reel” of people's lives. It is documentation of small snippets of the good parts of people's lives. It does not depict the behind-the-scenes footage of hard days, setbacks, disappointments, and failures.
If you are ready to stop the harmful habit of comparison, consider the following tips:
Comparison often occurs involuntarily without you even realizing it. Thus, it is important to learn to be more aware of your thoughts. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop thoughts from getting out of control and instead think of something positive in your life. This could be a recent accomplishment you had or even an aspect of yourself or your life that you are proud of.
Practicing gratitude is incredibly important for maintaining good mental health. If you are regularly reflecting upon the good in your life, you'll be far less likely to fall into the habit of comparison. When you find yourself being triggered and falling into a pit of negative thoughts, stop yourself and think of something you're grateful for.
To make gratitude more a part of your regular life, it may help to keep a gratitude journal. Before going to bed each night, write down three things that you're grateful for. These can be general things such as your family, friends, or your job, or they can be specific positive things that happened throughout the day, like having a good breakfast, getting a discount on something, or someone doing something kind for you. By doing this before bed, you'll be falling asleep with gratitude on your mind and will be more likely to wake up in a positive mood the next day.
If you find that you often find yourself triggered by social media or in a bad mood after mindless scrolling, it may be time for a break. Consider doing a social media detox and avoid it completely for a few days—or longer. If you don't want to give up social media, consider setting times throughout the day when you'll allow yourself to check it and stay offline when the time window closes. It can also be helpful to avoid social media before bedtime.
It's one thing to use comparison to tear yourself down and another to use it to motivate you to try harder to reach your goals. Consider what you admire about the people in your life. What positive aspects do they have that you would like to instill within yourself? Perhaps it is their patience, work ethic, or self-discipline. Before long, your admiration toward others can become a driving force to push you to better yourself.
Sometimes, it can be hard to watch another person achieve major success, especially if it's something you wanted for yourself. It can help to try to put yourself in their shoes. Consider the hard work and effort they put in to earn this accomplishment and you may find that instead of feeling jealous, you'll feel a sense of joy.
The dangerous habit of comparison often starts at a young age, usually regarding small and insignificant things. However, as you get older, you may compare yourself to others and their accomplishments and feel less toward yourself. Comparison is often associated with feelings of discouragement and jealousy which can lead to low self-esteem and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Learning how to avoid this habit as much as possible can improve your mental health. Some ways to end comparison include limiting your time on social media, practicing gratitude, celebrating the successes of others, and using comparison as motivation. It can also help to retrain your brain and stop negative thoughts before they can spiral out of control. If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. Call SokyaHealth at 866-932-1767 today to learn more about how we can help you end comparison.