The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.
I found myself comparing all aspects of my life, both internal and external, to a person I had never met. She was a stranger in every sense of the word, and yet somehow, her profile page caused me to question my accomplishments, appearance, and even personality traits.
I didn’t realize just how illogical this was until I explained it to someone, and, now as I type, I’m reminded even further.
Regardless of how illogical these comparisons may be, our emotional responses to such images can be so strong that they completely overpower our sense of logic.
The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media.
Reality is what is lost on social media. We emphasize the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions.
Life can be hard, ugly, and downright depressing at times. But those likely aren’t the adjectives most of us would use to describe the photos we post onto our accounts.
The feeling of lack and dissatisfaction that we feel when scrolling through our newsfeed often results from comparing our true reality to our “friends'” idealized, perfectly Instagramed realities.
We are using the same scale to measure two entirely different realities.
However, we fail to step back and recognize just how wildly unfair and unrealistic these comparisons actually are.
So how can we stop ourselves from making them?
By turning this habit completely around, you can make it work for you, and not against you. Instead of comparing yourself to people who have more than you do, compare yourself to people who have less than you do. Do you have two perfectly working eyes and ears? Two perfectly working hands, with five fingers on each? Two perfectly working legs? Perfect health - or at least no serious health problems? Then think about all the people - and there are hundreds of millions of them - that don’t have those things; and then be grateful that you do have them. It’s not hard to do - every time I see a blind person, I’m grateful that I can see normally; every time I see someone in a wheelchair, I’m grateful that I can walk normally; and so on, every time I see everyone with a disability.
Do you have enough food, and enough water? Then compare yourself to the millions of people who die, every day, from starvation, or drinking unclean water. Every time you walk into a supermarket, you see more food in one minute, than millions of people see in their entire life! If you own a computer, you are probably amongst the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population… the other 90% is a hell of a lot worse off than we are, but it’s easy to forget about them, because we live our whole lives surrounded by such abundance, that we take it for granted that the whole world’s like that. It isn’t.
Do you have a roof over your head and enough clothes to wear? Then take a moment, every day, to be grateful for those things… I worked with homeless people, so I never take those things for granted. Do you live in constant fear for your life, or are you fairly certain you will wake up tomorrow safe and sound? If the latter, switch on the nightly news and see how many people died in violent attacks today, and how many millions of refugees are fleeing for their lives. Be grateful that you are not one of those people.
How about just having family or friends who love you? Take a moment to be grateful for that, as you remember that millions of people don’t have anyone.
I have to live off just $50 a week. In Morocco , that’s not much, it’s right on the poverty line. But I have a roof over my head, a soft warm bed to sleep in, clean water to drink and wash in, a fridge full of food, perfect health, don’t have to fear terrorism or war or ethnic cleansing, and had two parents who loved me. Compared to people who don’t have those things, I feel wealthy, and blessed, beyond measure, even though I am very poor, in dollar terms. Instead of comparing yourself to those who are better off than you (chances are, they’re very much in the minority, statistically); compare yourself to those who are worse off than you (probably the lion’s share of the world’s population), and you, too, will feel wealthy and blessed beyond measure, every day.
So, next time you make an unfair comparison, instead of allowing it to make you feel poorly about yourself, view it as an opportunity for a little self-evaluating.
Ultimately, social comparisons aren’t indicative of what others have that you don’t, but rather what you already have but aren’t quite aware of yet.