How to Escape the Comparison Trap

Do you often catch yourself scrolling through your social media feed and feeling some resentment and envy at times? Perhaps it was the photos of your neighbor’s European vacation, your co-worker’s new sports car or your high school chum’s recent job promotion?

Guilty as charged! I remember four or five years ago, right around the time of my divorce, seeing all those Facebook photos of friends’ wedding anniversaries and trips to Iceland, India and all the countries in between, to commemorate those milestones. I remember being envious and sad, and all those other ugly negative feelings combined. It was not a good place to be.

Thankfully, I was able to dig myself out of that miserable place quickly. It’s not easy, mind you. It took a lot of effort and intention on my part to get out of that self-pity mindset. Social media highlights all the good goings-on in our lives, but almost never the mundane meanderings. Who would want to see photos of you washing the dishes or tackling mounds of laundry anyway?

Here are some ways I escaped the comparison trap:

Tell yourself that what you see are just highlights. Like I said, no one posts the boring, blah parts of their lives. So the trip to Maui may just be that – the highlight of a 25-year marriage. Click “like” or put a heart, then be happy for those folks and move on. I know a few families who post pics of kids graduating from college, realizing shortly that they were just mighty proud because the kids were the first ones in the clan to attend college. Again, bravo to them. No room for resentment here.

Most of the good stuff cost money and not everyone has the money to finance it. So the Joneses or the Smiths who are perennially posting pics of their flashy acquisitions, keep in mind that they may be in debt. Are you really envious of that? I remember so many stories of friends and acquaintances who have lost their homes and cars because they were drowning in debt months after posting those dreamy pics in the sandy beaches of Cabo.

Remind yourself of your uniqueness. Not to sound preachy, but there really is only one “you” in this universe. Comparing yourself to others is a huge disservice to yourself. It will never be “apples to apples,” so just stop it.

Keep a gratitude list. I am borrowing this nugget from a podcast I recently listened to. The featured guest shared that everytime she’s tempted to compare herself to others, she takes out her phone and looks at her gratitude list. She keeps the list updated regularly. She says it has kept her grounded and grateful.

Take a social media break. I temporarily deactivated my Facebook account for six months or so, just to take a breather. I love Facebook to this day but a Facebook time-out was just what I needed at that time. I’ve never felt better. I wasn’t curious as to what other people were up to. I wasn’t tempted to check on anybody or compare. People who mattered found other ways to get in touch with me, and vice-versa.

How do you get out of the comparison conundrum? How do you ground yourself these days?

Mira Reverente

Mira Reverente is a journalist, editor and blogger based in Southern California. She is always on the look-out for uplifting and local stories to tell from personal finance to fitness to family events. She currently writes and edits for a few regional publications. More

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