Comparison traps – Tips on how to avoid them

I want your opinion.

When you’re scrolling through Facebook or Instagram what is your most common go-to reaction when you see happy, smiling faces? You might have lots of reactions or no reactions. You might laugh or feel happy for them or think their kids are adorable. OR… you might feel envious over the super-smiling faces before you. Wow, they seem so happy. Wow, what an amazing vacation. Wow, their kids look perfect. Where do you think FOMO came from?

So which one is your go-to? If you picked envy, you definitely have company. Basically, the world is by your side on this one.

I’m not planning on lecturing about social media, but just one more thing: These sites are designed to cause envy. Let’s say if you’re grumpy or upset and someone takes a picture of you, are you really going to post it?
Probably not. You don’t want people to think you’re not having the time of your life. So you have another picture taken, and you smile this time. That’s the one everyone sees. It’s not real. So, remember this next time you’re scrolling (or trolling) that everyone has had a moment like this and you’re not seeing the real deal.

I’ve said this before: No one’s perfect. Remind yourself that you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. People want to put their best foot forward, while disguising what’s really happening inside. In other words, as I like to say, “Everyone has something.” This phrase has many connotations, but in this context it means that everyone has an area in their life that they’re either not proud of, or is lacking attention or is even causing distress.

Let’s take a look at comparison. Here are some ways to avoid triggers which negatively affect how you feel about yourself.

Be aware of what situations cause the comparison game. We’ve talked about social media as a possible cause, but what are some other things? Maybe listening to someone who’s always bragging, or going into wealthy neighborhoods, or watching a public speaker.

Think about, and write down your strengths and what you are proud of about yourself. These could be as small as a dessert you baked, for example. That’s an accomplishment! Lots of people can’t bake (this author, for one). Don’t assume it’s not worthy of praise. Start building your self esteem up by focusing on what you CAN do, and not what others are DOING.

Focus on what you do have, and not what you don’t have or wish to have. If you’re always wishing you had something else, like a car, or more houses, then you’ll never be happy with what you have. If you have shelter over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and people who love you, you have enough. You don’t want to enter into “shouldland,” you know, “I should have this,” “I should be doing that.” Appreciate the now.

DON’T LET YOUR INNER VOICE WIN! When you’re comparing yourself to others, your inner voice (I call the gremlin) is screaming inside your head, filling it with bs like You’re not good enough, You’ll never be good enough, They’re so much prettier than you, etc. These thoughts you have about yourself, if said out loud, are shocking. Be kind to yourself and don’t tell yourself anything that you wouldn’t say to another person.

There is a well-known quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Which means, when you are looking to others as better than yourself, you are taking away any chance of your own joy.

Understand that comparisons add no value, meaning, or fulfillment to our lives. They only distract from it.

Now here’s what you can do to not fall into that trap:

Think about what is triggering your inferiority.
Write down your thoughts of who and what caused you to feel envy.
Then think about a different way you can look at them, with more positivity. Write down what shifted and how you can avoid the comparisons next time.
And lastly, get a grip on that inner critic! You are the boss, and your strengths are enough to win the battle!