Why Comparing Your Life to Others on Social Media Can be Harmful?
We have all been there, mindlessly scrolling through social media, stumbling upon posts that highlight the enchanted lives of our former colleagues, schoolmates, old flames, and strangers we barely know. We begin to compare their accomplishments and happiness to our own, questioning why our relationships, careers, and overall lives are not as perfect as theirs seem to be.
This is what psychologists have coined the “comparison trap,” and with the rise of social media, it has become even more prevalent and difficult to escape. It is easy to get caught up in the daily onslaught of polished and curated moments, showcasing only the best aspects of someone’s life. These carefully crafted posts can make us feel overwhelmed and destabilized, especially if we are making upward comparisons.
Studies have shown that when a person chooses an upward comparison target, they are more likely to compare themselves to others who have even better lives. Therefore, it is essential to stop comparing your life to others as it can be detrimental to your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
Here are four steps that you can take to avoid the comparison trap.
1. Change Your Focus From External to Internal
You are the only person who needs to validate yourself, and turning your gaze from external to internal is crucial. It may not be an easy task, but it is worth it. Start by asking yourself what external influences have contributed to guiding your life thus far, and whether you have allowed these to influence you intentionally or unconsciously. Give yourself some time to envision a reality where you are unmoved by external forces, thoughts, and opinions. This could be practiced through meditation, journaling, or movement.
2. Limit Your Consumption
It is easy to get trapped in the comparison cycle when you are constantly looking for external validation. Therefore, it is essential to limit your screen time, especially on social media platforms. The images and posts that you see are often highly curated and only show a perfect moment in an otherwise realistic and messy life. Don’t let these perfect moments sway your perception when real life is much messier.
3. Pick One Source of Grounding Inspiration
It is okay to have one or two people you look up to and find inspiration from, but don’t make it an exhaustive list. These individuals could be anyone from your yoga teacher, mentor, good friend, or someone on a similar journey. Use them as a resource to ground yourself when you feel off or lose track of your journey.
4. Cultivate a Sense of Joy
Learn to detach yourself from the success of others and cultivate authentic joy for them. Everyone has their journey, success, and struggles. Comparing yourself to others is unfair as everyone is experiencing something different. Instead, celebrate the success and joy of others to liberate yourself from feeling that you have to measure your progress against theirs. When you are happy for others, it becomes easy to be happy for yourself. Celebrate the small wins, allow yourself to be happy, and don’t compare them to anyone else’s journey.
Proactive self-validation and reflection are the only ways to avoid the comparison trap. There will be ups and downs in your journey, but by making your focus internal, limiting your consumption of social media, grounding yourself with sources of inspiration, and cultivating joy and detachment for the success of others, you have already made a big step in the right direction. Remember, everyone has their journey, success, and struggles. Therefore, it’s vital to focus on your journey, and never compare it to others.