Four Simple Ways to Come Out of Comparison and Into the Present • Ashley Neese
I am glad social media did not exist when I was in high school. Can you imagine? It’s hard enough as a 30-something to navigate the inner work that goes along with maintaining social media platforms. I am sure that constantly comparing myself to others via my smartphone would have wrecked me as a teenager.
Since my first iPhone purchase in 2010 I have spent more time on social media every year. I love the internet and the incredible communities I have participated in since putting more effort into my online presence. It’s fun and rewarding. When I shared on social media that my Grandmother died a couple of years ago the outpouring of support was overwhelming. I love being able to share with a large group of people in an instant.
There are many days when I am grounded and clicking through Facebook and scrolling through Instagram is exciting. I see people living healthy, chasing dreams, taking risks, and I feel inspired and motivated.
When I’m not feeling good about myself social media is harsh. Before I know it I am lost in a sea of comparing myself to someone halfway around the world. Suddenly I am drowning in the murky, gross waters of self-doubt and within minutes I am frantically searching for a new program I can study, another meditation retreat I can go on, or ten more books I can add to my reading list because I am not enough as I am.
I feel completely defeated. I am ready to switch careers. Give in. Pack up. Sell everything and move to India or in with my parents, hell it doesn’t even matter at this point. I start to question everything I have ever done, what I stand for, my relationships, my food choices, my business model, my yoga practice. I wonder if I’m even any good at what I do.
It’s insane. Comparison is the thief of joy. For real.
Thankfully there is something I can do something about it. Staying in those dark places is a choice. I have the ability to change my behavior and my feelings when it comes to getting swept away in social media self-doubt land.
If you have ever been in that place this post is for you.
Here are four simple ways to come out of comparison and into the present:
I. Pause. Once you catch yourself in the act of trying to measure up to another person, pause. Stop everything you are doing and bring your attention to the here and now. Look at your surroundings and see your feet on the floor. Start to name the items that are around you to pull your focus out of fantasy and into reality.
II. Take a deep breath. Hold. Exhale for as long as possible. When you’re in that frantic state trying to find something else to add to your resume, breathing tends to be very shallow. That type of breathing creates more anxiety. Taking several long exhales helps calm the nervous system. When you are calm it’s easier to bring yourself back to the present.
III. Write a gratitude list. There are few things that can turn comparison around as quickly as making a gratitude list. This simple yet effective practice puts the focus on what’s awesome in your life instead of what is missing. The more we practice gratitude the more excited you can get about what’s happening in your life, right here, and right now. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for and the more you acknowledge this the more it will reveal itself to you.
IV. Wish them well. A teacher once told me years ago that when I was jealous of someone I needed to pray for them. When you are filled with envy towards someone you don’t even know (or maybe someone you do) because their internet life seems way better than yours, wish them well. Open your heart as best you can in that moment and wish them a happy, full, healthy life. This seemingly small action has a vibratory effect that can be incredibly healing.
The truth is you can never know what is going on for another person. Everyone wants to put their best selves forward online and why wouldn’t they? It’s completely natural to want to look your shiniest and share all the cool things you are doing. The problem lies in forgetting that someone else’s life has nothing to do with your self worth. The constant compare and despair eats away at true joy.
Focus on the positive. Yes social media can be a drag if you let it take you down. It’s all about perspective. Are you willing to rally and work towards strengthening your inner resources or are you more comfortable feeling bad about all that is lacking? It’s a choice. You have the power to shape your reality.
Pause. Breathe. Practice gratitude. Send a prayer.
Photo | Lani Trock