Over the last few weeks, I have been experiencing flare ups of social media comparisonitis. They say that you teach what you most need to learn and boy am I feeling that right now. I have talked about the dreaded comparison game so much over the last couple of years but that doesn’t mean that I’m immune to comparing myself to other people. In fact, I talk about it so much because I know first-hand just how damaging it can be to your self-esteem and your enthusiasm for life.
Dealing with comparisonitis isn’t something that’s new to me but I’m going to be totally honest and real with you and admit that I thought I had a good grip on it. 1st mistake – that perfectionist in me was trying to take control again. 2nd mistake – allowing myself to repeatedly judge myself against others. What started off as harmless scrolling through social media turned into a massive self-bullying session over and over again.
Whoah – big news right? Obviously no one is perfect, but in the comparison game, all there is IS perfection to compare yourself to. When you’re in the deepest depths of comparing yourself to others all you see is the ‘perfect’ in their life and judging yourself against that in the most brutal of ways possible. Only a few short weeks ago I was in that negative state and it took me much longer than I would have liked to have worked through it but I have learned from my past mistakes and just knew that my mind and body needed time to work through all the anxieties within me. Although it crept up upon me and was totally unexpected, it really showed me where I needed to grow in my life and what my soul was crying out for and when I woke up this morning, all I wanted to do was start writing and share these past few weeks with you in the hope that it will help you in some way if this is something that triggers you as well.
Last month I turned 27. Although I’ve never liked to make a massive fuss of my birthday, I was so excited for this one – I felt like I’d achieved so much since the beginning of the year, both personally and professionally, that I was so excited to celebrate all my accomplishments. My birthday was on the Monday and the weekend before was full of fun with Ben and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Roll on Monday morning I thought. Bring it on!
I was so excited to wake up on Monday and see my new year in, but when I woke up my heart felt heavy. I hadn’t felt so low in such a long time. When Ben went for a shower all I did was sit on my office floor crying. I was so shocked where this huge pity party came from that’s it’s only over the last couple of weeks I’ve really started to understand. I had been pushing myself for months – again, I know all about burn out and did everything I knew that worked for me to avoid that. It wasn’t pushing myself in the physical sense but in the emotional sense. I allowed for break times and ‘me-time’, chill out time and ‘self-care’ time but what I didn’t realise was how much of that time was spent on my phone.
“in the comparison game, all there is IS perfection to compare yourself to.”
Personally I know that Facebook is a big trigger of mine for social media comparisonitis. That’s why I deleted my personal account years ago. I realised at the time that I would spend hours mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and use it as an excuse to judge myself and put myself down. Instagram on the other hand was a different story. I’m a visual person, a creative, and I LOVE having a social media platform that is so visual and engaging in that way. I used to go on it to get ideas, inspiration and I also used it as an educational tool as well. Podcasts are another way of learning that I love – I used to listen to them to learn – YouTube is another platform that I love and snapchat too. Needless to say, there are a lot of apps that I use on my phone as a way of ‘practicing self-care’.
Although I was shocked why I was feeling so down in the dumps on my birthday and felt like it had come out of no where, it had in fact, been building up for months. When I would sit down in my chill-out moments, I’d whip out my phone and start going through Instagram. I would scroll through my feed and look at what others were getting up to and wondering ‘should I be doing more?’ or ‘am I doing enough?’. What started off as a minute on and off, turned into 10,15,20 minutes of mindless scrolling. What started off as spending time meaningfully on Instagram, turned into minutes upon minutes of scrolling for no reason what so ever – just because my phone was there and it was convenient. In fact, I would go so far as to say it just became a habit! I was sat down with nothing to do so out came my phone.
My inner mean girl awakened and leapt into action, putting me down at every possible opportunity, all the while convincing me that others had it better, that they were more successful in every single way possible. Without me even realising it, my mind was going into overdrive and turning up the dial on my anxiety. Although I am now great at recognising when my body is going into burnout – I wasn’t too clued up about now to notice when my mind was going into burnout and sure enough it was happening.
I would listen to podcasts and compare myself to the hosts:
Maybe I’m not as clued up as I thought, maybe I’m not educated enough, maybe I’m not smart enough.
I would watch YouTube videos:
Why doesn’t my life seem that easy? Maybe I should travel more? I wish I could go swim with the dolphins too!
I would scroll through Instagram accounts:
Why am I not as successful as them? Maybe I should lose weight? Maybe I should go back to school? Why am I the same age as them but feel so far behind?
Yes, my inner mean girl was having an absolute field day! She was having the time of her life putting me down and allowing me to judge myself against what I thought was ‘perfection’.
I’m not the only one that deals with comparisonitis, I know that there are so many beautiful individuals out there that suffer with it too every now and again. Whether it’s comparing yourself to your friends, family, neighbours or to people you have never even met through various social media accounts – if left unchecked, comparisonitis can be all consuming and soon take over every part of you.
So there I was on my birthday morning, sitting on my office floor in tears. All I could think of was that I had failed myself in some way, that I was stupid, not smart enough, unsuccessful and in that moment in time I felt so lonely. I had a huge week of work planned and knew that I needed to take a time-out. I was confused – so confused! I didn’t know who I was, what I was doing, what I was meant to be doing. I guess the best word to describe how I felt was fragile. I took a couple of days off work, off going to the gym and released any pressure I had put on myself. So I sat on the sofa and what did I do? Pick up my phone and started scrolling through my favourite accounts and judging myself at the same time. That’s when I realised it had gone too far. Not only was the comparison game making me miserable in the first place, but I was now using it as a tool for punishing myself!
Until that moment I hadn’t realised just how much I relied on my social media accounts. I thought they were my sources of inspiration and relied on them that much that I couldn’t even see when they had started to become fuel for my inner bully to come out and play. I had spent months putting myself down that it took me a good few weeks to pull myself out of it and start being kind to myself again.
“if left unchecked, comparisonitis can be all consuming and soon take over every part of you.”
You can get kindness from every area in your life and from everyone in your life – but if you’re not showing yourself kindness, then you are starving yourself from feeling it.
You are depriving yourself from the one thing that you should give yourself every day – kindness. That’s the only thing your body needs you to show up for every day – to shower it with unconditional love. I had stopped doing that and if you compare yourself to others then you’re doing yourself and your body the same injustice.
Comparing yourself to other people will only get you so far – and most of the time that’s a one way ticket on the pity party train!
You are everything you need to be at this moment in time and if someone has something amazing happen to them… well, good for them… but that doesn’t mean that great things aren’t happening for you at the same time!
Things are unfolding just as they should and I promise you, the end result is going to be way more beautiful than you ever imagined.
“You can get kindness from every area in your life and from everyone in your life – but if you’re not showing yourself kindness, then you are starving yourself from feeling it.”
If you notice that you’re scrolling mindlessly through social media – STOP.
If you notice that you’re comparing yourself to others – STOP.
If you feel your inner mean girl show up – tell her to STOP.
Catch yourself when you find you’re comparing yourself and just take a moment.
Bring yourself back to this moment that you’re in and just be still.
This is your chance to work out what your mind, body and soul are needing. If you’re comparing yourself to others then it’s because there is something that you desire – it’s time to put on that learning hat and figure out what it is. If you want something then make it happen for you in your own way. You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone to show you how to do that. Ask yourself what you need in this moment in time.
So many of us suffer with comparisonitis every now and again but it’s so important to catch yourself in the act and allow yourself to work through it. As sticky as that journey may be, living life without it is so much sweeter and way more fulfilling.
To listen to this podcast episode, click on the links below: