We’ve all felt it: the slight nagging pang of dissatisfaction (or maybe even turned into mild depression) that shows up after spending time scrolling through our social media feeds. Call it what you want – envy, jealousy, FOMO – but there is no doubt that it is often the result of allowing ourselves to play the comparison game. It can be triggered by someone else getting loads of Instagram likes, (not so) modestly bragging about getting a huge opportunity, or being lucky enough to get a new job that you really would like to have. These triggers are always within reach and let us dive straight into the comparison game with one swipe on our iPhone. It is easy to tap into the separation we all sometimes feel between the life we want to live and the life we actually live. And since it’s all too easy to create the facade of a “perfect” life on social media, it’s easy to find ourselves constantly catching up with someone who, from the outside in, seems to have it all.
As a blogger, my career is often completely rooted in the online world and social media is an inseparable part of my everyday work. Deleting my Instagram account isn’t really an option for me, and neither would I! I think it can be an amazing tool for visually capturing our days, finding positive ways to improve our wellbeing, keeping up with family and friends, and sharing moments that I find inspiring. So the question is, if we use and interact with social media on a daily basis, how do we combat the feeling of dissatisfaction that scrolling through everyone’s “fabulous” life in our feed can come with?
Here are a few practices that worked for me to avoid the comparison game.
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Be focused on others.
Instagram is often a shiny, happy world where people only post the moments (and outfits, meals, parties, and travel destinations) they want to see (edited and filtered to perfection). us, as long as we don’t forget that the other 99.9% of our lives are actually real life. If I focus on the number of likes I’m getting, it probably means it’s time for me to get out of myself and engage with other people, love my family and friends, and targeting people and things in my life that are important. Because true love hits a million “likes” every day of the week.
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Be supportive, never jealous.
In this crazy and rapidly changing world of blogging and social media, can we find a way to be on the same team and help each other? Instead of letting our friends’ (or “competitors”) victories feel like threats, how can we change our perspective to be encouragement and inspiration? It’s not that success in the world is some kind of bank account that can be used up. There is much to be done, and our friend’s success in no way diminishes our own current or future victories. Trust me, when you are able to be genuinely happy and support the accomplishments of others, you will feel a thousand times better than when you let jealousy tick its ugly head.
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Just let yourself be inspired.
One of my good friends, Ashley Woodson Bailey, recently switched her floral design career to that of an art photographer, inspired by a desire to capture the constant metamorphosis of a flower as a moment in time. She does it on her own terms with her favorite medium (flowers) and her iPhone. Ashley told me that since giving herself the freedom to dive headfirst into her passion, she has finally been able to break the cycle of competition that she previously felt. She learned to appreciate the beauty around her. Instead of constantly feeling the need to “move forward”, she learns to use real things like the sharing of art and beauty that move people to become her measure of her success. Remember: a quick snapshot on social media (and how others react to it) has nothing to do with our true worth in the world.
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Learn to set limits.
Do you have certain “triggers” that triggered you to start the comparison game? Be aware of when these occur and proactively fight back against them. Maybe it means turning off your phone at a certain time in the evening or not scrolling through your Instagram feed first thing in the morning. It can mean unplugging for a whole day on vacation, or even just being home for the weekend. This way, instead of thinking about how you’d like to take on your iPhone, immerse yourself in everything. And if that sounds like a dramatic move, it likely means that this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
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Remember: life is too short.
Don’t worry too much about what other people think. You have a chance to live it, and I promise that most people are far too caught up in their own little worlds to worry too much about yours anyway. Our culture applies the time-is-money principle to every single moment of the day and night, which leaves no room for rest, play or so many other things that our body and soul crave. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to master the art of staying present in the real (not virtual) moment.
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I wanted to write this both to constantly remind myself and to share and receive thoughts on the subject from all of you. In this world where our sense of value and purpose can be shaken by likes, follows, and other metrics that are basically pretty meaningless, it can be difficult not to feel like the internet a great popularity is competition. One thing that usually helps me combat all kinds of jealousy is remembering that there will always be someone prettier, smarter, more popular, funnier, and all around better than me, no matter how hard I try what i can chase, but you can’t be me.
The power of each of our individual uniqueness is that it’s the only thing that others can’t keep up with. No one can be as good a version of me as I can be when I set out to be the very best of me. So get in touch with the unique gifts that you bring to the world, and then devote yourself to cultivating the things that make you enlighten and overflow with energy and love.
This post was originally published on September 26, 2018 and has been updated since then.