By Heidi Fisher
I came across a quote that I can’t stop thinking about. “The reason why we struggle is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Steven Furtick
When life gets too hectic and chatting on the phone or visiting in person takes too much effort, social media can be an easy way to catch up and connect with friends. It can be a window to the world and more times than I would like to admit, my very own personal barometer. A virtual distorted reflection of what my children have not accomplished, why I haven’t traveled enough, why my dinners do not look like my “Friends” beautiful culinary creations and so on.
I consider myself a glass half full kind of gal and I am truly happy for others who achieve and enjoy proud moments. The logical part of me knows that someone is always going to have more, do better and achieve higher than me … so why am I still comparing? And what can I do to enjoy my social media, self-judgement free?
Psychology Today offers the following tips to help.
- Seek Connection, Not Comparison
“Limit time on social media, but more important is how that time is used,” says Mitch Prinstein, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina. Instead of passive scrolling, send private messages, talk about shared experiences, seek genuine emotional connection, and use social media in general to “foster the kind of relationships known to be valuable offline.”
- Look Up, Just a Little
Decades of research suggest that upward comparison can provoke motivation and effort; children who compare themselves to peers who slightly outperform them have produced higher grades, for instance. Seeing that the path to improvement is attainable is key—you’re better off comparing yourself to someone a rung or two above you than to someone at the very top of the ladder.
- Count Your Blessings
If you focus on the good things in your life, you’re less likely to obsess about what you lack.
- Compare Yourself to…Yourself
“People who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation,” says Sonja Lyubormirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside and the author of The How of Happiness. It’s not that they don’t notice upward comparisons, but they don’t let that affect their self-esteem, and they stay focused on their own improvement. A happy runner compares himself to his last run, not to others who are faster.”
If we as adults can curb our tendency to use the filtered world of social media to judge our lives and self-worth, we’ll be better role models to teach our children to love and accept themselves for all the qualities that make them unique. And, in the long run, we’ll all be happier.
Heidi Fisher is a Communication Specialist for JCS.
JCS provides individuals and families throughout Central Maryland with a broad array of services and resources for emotional and behavioral health, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, financial stability, and living with disabilities. To learn how JCS can help you live your best life, please visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.