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Playing the Comparison Game

We exist in the age of social media where we are in constant contact with other people that we allow ourselves to see. We spend hours scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media and are seeing a perfectly curated feed of the highlight reel of someone’s life. As we scroll through these pictures and posts, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t real life. Sure, it’s a piece of someone’s life - but it isn’t the whole story.

Comparing yourself to others is a slippery slope that can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and a distorted self-image. It’s important to focus on your own journey and growth instead of constantly measuring yourself against others.

We’ve all had our moments of jealousy when someone posts an accomplishment on social media. Maybe your high school best friend got a promotion or was recognized for their hard work. Maybe someone you haven’t spoken to in ten years is posting their award winning painting and getting praised for the attention to detail. Suddenly innocent scrolling turns into a game: the comparison game.

Jack got a promotion and I was passed over for my promotion last year, so that means that he’s better at his job than I am. Jill posted about her loving relationship, but my marriage is on the rocks and that means that I failed at being a spouse. Cindy is taking a trip to Greece, and you’re struggling to pay your car payment so that means that Cindy is living a better life than I am.

All of these things, and more, are examples of ways that we can play the comparison game when we scroll through social media. We flood our brain with images of people’s highlight reels and forget that a majority of life happens in the in-between moments. No one posts when bad things happen to them or when they’re struggling. Social media has become a contest of who has the most perfect life, and it doesn’t have a winner.

Comparing yourself to others is not only unproductive, but it can also lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and ultimately hinder personal growth and progress. Instead, individuals should focus on their own unique journey and accomplishments, and strive to be the best version of themselves.

So, when does the comparison game become dangerous? The short answer is when you let it impact your mental health. If you find yourself becoming sad or upset when you’re scrolling through your feeds, it might be time to take a break from social media.

How to beat the comparison game:

  • Remind yourself that social media is a curated experience, and that people usually just post the highlights.

  • When you find yourself comparing your accomplishments, your looks, or your skills to someone else’s – stop the thought in its tracks and replace it with something positive you like about yourself.

  • Remember that you have the power to unfollow people if they hinder your mental health.

  • Show up on social media and be authentically yourself. For some, this could be posting more of the “in-between” moments that usually don’t see the light of day on a Facebook post. You might be surprised at how many people follow suit.

If you find yourself struggling with comparing yourself to other people and wondering why your life isn’t as good as theirs, it might be time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Is there something about your life that you feel is missing? Do you struggle with finding things you like about yourself and your life? If so, it could be time to consult a therapist and let us help you build your self-esteem.

Shelby Case is a new therapist at Mindsight Louisville! Shelby's favorite things include spending time with her animals and her spouse, watching television (currently they are watching Big Brother), and taking road trips. When she isn't providing therapy to clients, she can be found playing video games (her favorite is The Sims 4) or spending too much money at a thrift store. Shelby's favorite color is green and her guilty pleasure is reality TV shows.

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