Combatting Comparisonitis

by Natalie Kessell, Founder, Biz Gals

Natalie has worked her way up the career ladder and is now inspiring young women to focus on themselves and prioritize their lives. Through this article, she brings to the fore the most common issue that we are facing today – comparing our lives with that of others and what is the real cause of this comparison!

 

I made a discovery today…

It seems that I’m suffering from a fairly severe case of “comparisonitis”.

This isn’t a word I just made up, yourdictionary.com describes it as:

"The compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance..."

 

I believe I have had this affliction for most, if not all, of my life. I think it affects many people even if they haven’t named “it” yet and social media is the drug that is feeding the affliction rather than healing it.

You know what I mean...when you wake up first thing in the morning and scroll through your *insert name of your chosen social media drug here* feed and those inadequacies that lie dormant at the back of your mind (or not so dormant depending on the day) are highlighted in technicolour on your screen.

 

So why do we do it to ourselves? 

According to renowned Pastor and Philosopher Steve Furtick, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” 

I wanted to dig deeper about the psychology behind comparisonitis, so I contacted friend of Biz Gals and Psychologist Melanie Schilling.

“When you think about it, the act of comparing our REAL selves with the perfectly curated social media versions of others is like trying to measure an elephant and the concept of time with a 30cm ruler.

In life, we all have our emotional triggers; the things, people or situations that spark our deepest insecurities and self-doubt. On our social platforms, the source and number of triggers is multiplied by every scroll.

One of the key things social media comparison can trigger is a ‘lack mindset’.  That is, a focus on what they have and what I do not have. Our self-talk spirals into a checklist of all the things – thigh gap, smooth skin, long hair, strong muscles, the perfect career trajectory, the ideal husband – that other women have and we do not.  

Rather than coming from the place of solid self-esteem and confidence, where it’s possible to celebrate and honour the positive attributes of others, it pushes us into a corner of lack, where all we can see is what we don’t have.  It’s quite an ego-driven place to sit, a place where we choose to make other people’s posts all about us.

There is certainly an addictive element to this form of self-torture.  Perhaps it’s the random nature of posts, never knowing what’s coming next, the possibility that maybe the next post will make you feel good about yourself.  If you were to scroll for 5 minutes with a ‘Lack Mindset’, you might encounter 1 or 2 posts that make you feel good.  Not very good odds, eh?    

The key issue here, is seeking validation and self-esteem boosts from external rather than internal sources.  Whether it’s social media, the words of others, numbers on a scoreboard or the scales, seeking reassurance from external things is a fruitless exercise. 

The research tells us that trying to change things that are outside our control is a sure-fire ticket to stress town and the impact on self-esteem can be brutal.”

 

So what can we do to combat comparisonitis in our day-to-day lives? 

Melanie says that we should make some intentional, conscious choices about the way we approach social media as well as the way we gratify our self-esteem. 

 

How to turn your social media interaction into a positive love affair in 4-steps: 

Set up a pop-up reminder on your phone to prompt you to engage a gratitude mindset before scrolling.  Try something like ‘I am a work in progress, I’m learning and growing every day, I’m taking steps toward my goals every day, I am on my way to being the best possible version of ME’

  1. When scrolling, if you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, ask yourself why.  Is this about where I’m at today?  What does this tell me about myself today?  What do I need to make me feel better? And log out.
  2. Un-follow any accounts that make you question your own worth. Immediately!
  3. Try this experiment: set yourself a time limit, say 15 minutes, to go through your feed and make (genuine) positive comments on every post you see.  Notice how this shifts your mindset. The idea here, is to train your brain to start associating social media with positive thoughts and emotions (plus happy hormones) and to start dissociating it from your self-doubt.

 

How to help improve your self-esteem in 3-steps:

  1. Learn about your own strengths. What are the 3 personal attributes that you are most proud of?  Most successful at?  Best known for? 
  2. Seek out ways to reinforce these strengths in your environment.  For example, if compassion is one of your strengths, you could volunteer for a not-for-profit once a month and notice what this does for your confidence.  
  3. Shift your focus from the social media accounts of others (external factors) to your own personal strengths (internal factors) you will become more empowered and more likely to dilute the impact of comparisonitis.

  

Natalie Kessell is the Founder of Biz Gals and is a freelance event producer and writer. She has worked across various industries at different positions and her aim through Biz Gals is to focus on inspiring business women to take a break to create a balance and prioritize their lives. She was recently awarded the Most Outstanding Sole Trader at the Parramatta Local Business Awards.

 

Originally published for Biz Gals https://www.bizgals.com.au/comparisonitis