Apples to Oranges or Seed to Seed?
We’ve all done it, we all do it, and none of us are immune to it. I’m talking about comparison.
With it being Mental Health Month, comparison can have detrimental effects on our mental well-being. Comparison is not only common, it’s part of our ancestral and evolutionary mindset. We used to have to compare ourselves because we needed it for survival. We needed to know who was stronger to kill the animal to eat it. Who was smarter and faster doing the hunting? Who was slower, etc... It eventually evolved into the chaos of comparison that we have now.
Even if it’s something as simple as just $1 or 1 more - comparison creeps in.
Yes, comparison can have some motivational impact. However, according to Social Comparison Theory, psychologist Leon Festinger, suggests that individuals have an innate drive to evaluate themselves by comparing their achievements, abilities, and appearance to others. I don’t think I need to tell you the impact of what this comparison can do to ourselves and our self-esteem, because more likely than not, you aren’t using it for motivation.
Research conducted by psychologists Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell (2015) indicates that social media usage and constant exposure to carefully curated social media of idealized imagines can contribute to negative body image and increased levels of depression and anxiety. Also, note: that research was from almost a decade ago..that’s right it’s 2023, so one can only assume it’s gotten WAY worse.
Not sure about you, but I’ve tried really hard to create boundaries around my social media. This includes who I instantly scroll past or who I search out. I’ve tried to make my social media a place to get lost and not feel bad about myself - though as many boundaries are in place, the AI can sometimes do its thing to my brain.
Other than the standard answer of boundaries, how the f*ck do we break free from the draining sewage of all of this?
We listen to Brené Brown of course!
Brown quoted her friend Laura Williams in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” It’s honestly all about practicing self-compassion and cultivating a sense of worthiness. It’s so important to remind ourselves that everyone has their own journey and struggles. And yes, I know that won’t cure your comparison overnight, but don’t forget I still have to remind you to relax your shoulders in Warrior 2 almost every damn time - so it’s a practice…..
In all seriousness, it’s so important to remember our worth is not determined by how we measure ourselves to others, it’s not all wrapped up in how much money we make, what bag we carry, what shoes we wear, or what school our kids go to. The only person who gets to decide what your worth is truly determined by is you, the real you, not the one in your head that always yells at you.
It’s time to embrace your authenticity and value yourself for who you are. That is what will lead to improved mental well-being and a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P. C., Vartanian, L. R., & Halliwell, E. (2015). Social comparisons on social media: the impact of Facebook on young women's body image concerns and mood. Body Image, 13, 38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.12.002