Guest post by Jennifer Landis
Being the first friend to have kids has its benefits, for sure. Cute and tiny baby for everyone to adore and plenty of support to start, but it also can come with a hefty case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
I would know.
The birth of my daughter was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that a ton of my late night breastfeeding sessions were spent scrolling through Instagram admiring all of the fun things that I wasn’t doing.
Baby or not, I’m sure you’ve felt the same at times. You find yourself scrolling through Facebook, looking at the lives of everyone else and wishing you were them.
Well, it’s time to stop! Comparing yourself to the people that cross your social media feeds is unproductive and creates an endless negative cycle of self-doubt. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to stop comparing your life to the lives of those around you.
Here are some reasons why you need to do this, but I know it’s easier said than done, so there are also some strategies to make this happen.
Social Media Paints an Unrealistic Picture
Take a minute to think about the types of posts you see on social media. Do you often see people posting about their latest panic attack, the fight they had with their spouse or the negative feedback they got at work? My guess is no.
That’s because people usually only publicize their best sides. Their selfies have been edited to show off their best features. They post updates about their job promotion, new house, wedding anniversary, and the great day they had. People show off their best selves on social media, and the sides that they aren’t too proud of stay offline.
So when you’re scrolling through Facebook, you’re only seeing the great pieces of everyone’s lives. It’s easy to believe these people are having fantastic lives and that nothing bad ever happens to them because that’s all you see. It’s important to remember that everybody has parts of their life that aren’t pretty enough to put online. You’re not the only one having problems. Everyone else is too, guaranteed.
There Will Always Be Someone Better
No matter how well you’re doing at work, how great your relationship is or how happy you are with your life at the moment, there will always be somebody who has it better. Somebody has a better or higher-paying job, somebody has a nicer house, somebody has more free time to spend with their family. No matter what, you will always have somebody to compare yourself to that will make you feel inadequate.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, learn how to be content with where you are in life and don’t look for someone else who is happier, richer or smarter than you. There will always be someone better than you in some sense, but nobody has your life. You are unique and you should be proud of your strengths and weaknesses.
You Are Enough
Constantly comparing yourself to others can lead to some dark places. Many people suffer from depression or anxiety that is worsened because of their need to compare themselves. Some people even get in so deep that they turn to alcohol or drugs. One in eight women end up binge drinking at least three times each month in the United States, often as a result of too much stress and depression.
It’s extremely important for your health and well-being that you learn how to stop comparing yourself to others. Practicing this skill can protect you from excessive stress and sadness. Instead of putting your time and energy into wishing you had someone else’s life, you can put your time and energy into loving your life and spending time with your loved ones.
Comparing yourself to others is a hard habit to break, but it is possible and it’s important. Here are some tricks to help you start to break this habit.
Be Genuinely Happy for Others
When we get caught up in the lives of others, it’s easy to become bitter about their accomplishments. Instead of feeling happy for them, you might sometimes feel jealous or angry. However, feeling this way will only fuel the negative cycle of comparing yourself to them.
Instead, make a point to feel proud of your family member, friend or acquaintance who has something good going on in their life. Celebrate their achievements. Make a happy comment congratulating them. If you keep this up, it will become a habit and soon you’ll be able to focus on being happy for others instead of comparing yourself to them.
Focus on Your Accomplishments
As you practice being genuinely happy for others, also practice being genuinely happy for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with bragging about your accomplishments on social media so your friends can celebrate your achievements with you. As you do this, you’ll learn to be content with where you are in life and you will be able to stop comparing yourself with others. Instead, you will live your own life on your own timeline.
Comparing yourself with the people around you only leads to negativity and despair. Instead of doing this, learn how to be happy for yourself and for others. Know that you are special and that your life is yours to live. You shouldn’t be ashamed or feel inadequate for any reason.