Consider the following scenario. I’m wondering if this happens to you too. There you are just going about your day…finally putting away the laundry that’s been sitting in baskets on the floor for a week, tossing kid clutter into “organized” piles, trying to conjure up a plausible reason for your husband to pick up dinner on his way home from work…you know, the usual. You’re just living your life, happily minding your business and content in the knowledge of your own hard-earned maturity when…there she is.
Out of nowhere she pops up on your timeline. It’s her. That one girl. The one with the power to make you feel like total shit just by existing.
She’s prettier than you. She’s funnier than you. She is smarter and much more successful. She has way more friends than you do because everyone loves her and everyone thinks she special. She’ll always be skinnier and in better shape than you are. Her house is bigger and better decorated than yours. And it’s clean, Mother of Crap, it’s so clean. Her yard is nicer. So are her clothes. She’s more talented. She makes all her own baby food from the produce she grows in her own organic garden…
Basically everything she touches will always turn to gold. She’s freaking Queen Midas.
Do you have that one girl too? That poor girl who has no idea that, for some illogical reason, you’ve put her up on a pedestal where her allegedly perfect shadow looms over you anytime you see her?
I struggle a lot with comparison. I’m not proud of it. But there it is. For reasons I’m still working through I’m still tempted to measure myself against my peers. Sometimes certain ones in particular. But I am working on it. Here are three things I have found to be helpful when my brain leaps into comparison overdrive.
It doesn’t matter how you do it but embrace gratitude as a mindset. You can keep a gratitude journal. Or maybe just list three things for which you’re grateful to yourself when you first wake up. Or before you fall asleep. Whatever works. But once you start embracing gratitude the impulse to compare yourself to other people dissipates somewhat because you are more focused on how blessed you truly are.
Un-plug for a while.
Don’t spend so much time absorbing the highlights of other people. Put your phone down and read a book. Binge some stand-up on Netflix. Play with your kids or snuggle your pet. Do something creative. Not too long ago I deactivated my Facebook account for a while because it was making me miserable. Eventually I reactivated but I’ll tell you something…being off for nearly a year totally broke my dependence on it. In fact, I find Facebook pretty boring now to tell you the truth. For me there’s a correlation between how much time I spend using social media and how much time I spend feeling like I don’t quite measure up. I KNOW I’m not alone in that experience. When I spend less time on my phone and more time pursuing things that make me happy it’s much easier to stop comparing myself to others. Because I’m not thinking about them.
Do something good for someone else.
Pouring yourself into the service of others makes it pretty difficult to sit around thinking about yourself. Because, let’s call it like it is, perpetually comparing to yourself is a fairly self-absorbed activity. Maybe you send a nice card to someone who’s been having a rough time. Maybe you volunteer your time at your place of worship or at your child’s school. Or you take a concrete step to stand up for your beliefs. Just do something good. I always find that when I’m being self-giving I rarely feel the need to measure myself against someone else. It just falls off my radar. Because I’m busy doing things that matter.
Here’s the dealio. There’s always going to be someone prettier, funnier, smarter, skinnier, more successful…Even for that one girl. Whoever she is for you. She is not perfect and she has insecurities like anyone else. She’s probably going about her day…kneading up her gluten-free dough for her homemade bread, flipping her beautiful hair and singing to herself while woodland creatures clean her kitchen…when there she is. That one girl with the power to make her feel like shit just by existing. Think about that the next time your that one girl pops up in your feed.