I don’t know if this is a thing that other people do too, but I have a notes file on my phone with a list of random little sayings to remind me of what I should do when I’m feeling down. No? That’s just me? Well maybe give it a try! Or even try leaving sticky notes around your room with these reminders so they’re always right there, in your face to remind you to be your best self. Things like, “whatever happens, happens,” “do what makes you happy,” and “stop comparing yourself to others.” If that last one sounds familiar it’s probably because that’s the title of this blog post and also what I’m going to be talking about today.
With social media and universal stalking apps like Snapchat Maps and Find My Friends, it’s so easy to see what people are doing all the time—even if you’re not all that interested. This can lead to negative, self-deprecating thoughts. Thoughts like “damn, why do they look so good in that pic, why can’t I look like that,” or “wow, they look so happy together, why am I so lonely and destined to never find love,” or “hey look at all those people out at a bar, why are they having fun while I’m just sitting at home bored.” If you’ve ever thought these things after scrolling through Instagram or checking Snapchat, I understand, I have too. I think we’ve all had these thoughts from time to time.
Obviously sometimes these thoughts could be inspiring and get you motivated to get off your ass and go to the gym, go on dates, or go be social, but I believe for the most part they can have some pretty negative effects on us. And that’s why I’m here today to tell you to STOP having these thoughts. There I said it, now you’re cured…
Just kidding, here’s a list of ideas I found after doing some research for actionable ways you can help yourself stop comparing yourself to others or simply stop caring so much about other people’s lives.
The first step is the most obvious one…if social media is causing you to have these negative thoughts and feelings, then maybe it's social media that you need to remove from your life. Or maybe remove specific people or pages that you compare yourself to the most. Or maybe just use social media as a way to absorb only positive and happy content (like @seagull_strength to just name a random positive social media profile from the top of my head)!
But I know deleting social media is not easy and nobody wants to hear that as a solution to their problems so here are some alternative practices you could do to help with your insecurities brought on by comparing yourself to others.
1. Keep record of all your achievements—both big and small. This will help remind yourself of all the great things you do on a daily basis. It can be as simple as actually going to class or it can be as big as finally applying to that internship that you’ve been thinking about. Soon, you’ll have a huge list of all the things you’ve achieved, and it will help you forget that Michelle just got her dream job and is posting about it non-stop (Stokes, 2020).
2. Journal! I personally have never journaled before but the more I do research for this blog the more I see it coming up as a great solution for so many problems! In this case though journaling and taking note of all your insecurities and then reading them and confronting them can help you decide whether or not they have merit, and often, see that they don’t. Confronting these negative feelings can help give you the power to overcome and move past them (Stokes, 2020). Plus, most of the time insecurities are just not true. I am so insecure about my wrists being boney and I always feel like I need to cover them up. But whenever I mention that to anyone, they always tell me how ridiculous I’m being cause my wrists are perfectly normal (and they’re right). So, by writing down your insecurities, you can come face to face with them and see how silly they may actually be.
Another way you can journal is by writing down 3 things you were grateful for at the end of the day. Simply writing 3 things you’re grateful for everyday no matter how shitty that day was will allow you to start appreciating the little things in life more. Maybe the Starbucks barista finally spelled your name right, or maybe someone opened the door for you while you were bringing your groceries in your room, or maybe your professor finally gave you the recognition you felt you deserved. Whatever it is, write it down and eventually you’ll realize that you’re happy with your life and you don’t even care what other people are doing (Cruze, 2020).
3. “Remind yourself that people’s ‘outsides’ can’t be compared to your ‘insides’” (Haas, 2018). People post their best lives on social media. The good news, the relationships, the vacations. And then they embellish, and embellish some more. Nobody posts when they feel depressed or lonely or they’re having problems with their significant other or they just got fired. Yet, we all go through these emotions and life experiences. Keep this in mind and remind yourself of this when you find yourself comparing your stomach flab to Chad’s hyper-edited 8-pack in perfect lighting at the beach.
4. Compete with yourself! While it may be a good motivator to go to the gym when you see Chad’s 8-pack, in reality, you can’t control Chad. The only person you can control is yourself. Challenge yourself. Compete with yourself. If you only went to the gym once last week, go two times this week! I don’t care that Chad went to the gym six times. He isn’t you! Focus on your own dreams and goals and go after them!
5. Finally; practice! We’ve been hardwired to absorb social media non-stop and constantly judge others and compare ourselves to them. This is not a habit that you’re going to break overnight. Keep working and doing these practices and eventually, one day, you’ll soon realize that Jenny posted a bikini pic with her boyfriend in Greece and you don’t even care.
An important thing to mention with all this is that you can’t forget to celebrate others as well. It is important to focus on you, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t cheer on your friends and family when they accomplish something that they’ve been working hard on (Cruze, 2020). So, congratulate your friend for getting an A in Orgo and go celebrate with your buddy that finally landed their dream job. Don’t be jealous of them, and don’t compare yourself to them. Be happy for them. Keep working hard. Your time will come.
Cruze, Rachel. “How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.” Daveramsey.com, 22 Oct. 2020, www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-stop-comparing-yourself-to-others.
Haas, Susan Biali. “How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,5 Mar. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/
Stokes, Victoria. “How I Learned to Stop Comparing Myself to Others.” Healthline, 13 May 2020, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/learned-stop-comparing.
A special thank you to all my friends and family who have not only supported me on my journey but have helped along the way. None of this would be possible without them. Remember to take time to appreciate those in your lives!
Copyright © 2020, 2021 Nick Siegel, all rights reserved