Comparing Ourselves To Others In A World Driven By
Why do we make comparisons and is it possible to avoid?
Social media has changed the way that we interact with one another and I imagine that you've heard a variety of opinions regarding whether or not this is a good thing.
While I have not yet fully developed my own firm stance on this I will admit to having a love hate relationship with social media.
There are certainly ways that we are all blessed by this online world ...
Social media allows us to connect with our loved ones no matter the distance that separates us, and it offers us the opportunity to develop friendships with people we may never have the chance to meet face to face.
As a writer and blogger I look to Facebook and Instagram as a simple way to share my content with the world.
As a woman deeply involved in ministry I rely on Facebook to pass along information and create interest in the enrichment studies, mentoring, and gatherings we host.
As a volunteer involved with a variety of really wonderful organizations I use social media to stay in the know and to interact and coordinate with other volunteers.
As a wife, mother, daughter and friend I get a thrill from logging onto the computer and seeing pictures and posts from my friends and family. And, I'll admit that I enjoy the simplicity of sharing my important life stages and fun family activities with loved ones through a simple click of a button.
It's all pretty amazing actually.
But, what about the uglier side of social media?
I'm not talking about the bullying, the hate filled comments, or the inappropriate content. Those are all yucky things, yes. But I’m referring to the more internal and personally detrimental effect social media can have if we are not careful and gentle with ourselves.
I'm talking about the dangers of making unrealistic comparisons between our own situations and the life we think we see someone else living.
Most of us tend to share the highlights of our day on social media and avoid displaying the messy moments. Very few of us enjoy wallowing too long in hurt or hard times so it makes sense that we would also steer away from posting those tougher parts of our lives. When you have worked hard to develop the habit of focusing on the beauty around you and the happy times in your day to day life these are naturally the parts that you then choose to share on social media.
However, when you see those happy posts they are only glimpses, tiny snippets, into a life. They are a brief moment pulled from a day that was most likely filled with many additional events and happenings… some of those other unshared moments may have also also been good but I guarantee you that some were likely not so pretty.
You are only a witness to the pieces of a life and a personality that someone else is choosing to share with you. You are not seeing the full picture.
We live in a broken and harsh world. No one is without hardship and struggle. Believing that you've missed out on some form of charmed perfection you assume others have attained is a dangerous way to think.
Why is this so dangerous?
When we make comparisons we are looking to others as a way to measure our own self worth.
If we already harbor insecurities (and we all have insecurities), then comparing ourselves to others will only validate them. We use the comparisons as proof that we are not thin enough, not doing enough, not creative enough, not pretty enough, not fun enough, not loved enough…. and the insecurities deepen.
Unfortunately the easy access into the lives of others that social media allows means that sliding into the danger of making these comparisons is all too easy.
So, how can we use social media as a tool of connection and not validation?
How do we interact and celebrate one another without walking away from the screen with feelings of worthlessness and jealousy? How do we stop the comparisons?
You stop comparing yourself to others when you already know who you are.
When you have a strong sense of self, a solid understanding of who you are, you no longer look to find your self worth or validation through comparisons.
Yes, it is that beautifully simple my friends.
Yet, developing a strong sense of self is not always simple. It takes work and a commitment to yourself. It is a lifelong, and occasionally painful, journey.
My journey continues, but I am able to humbly tell you that I have consistently taken steps forward and have put in the work. While I do stumble once in awhile I still find myself further down that path and with a secure knowledge of who I am.
Moments of comparing and insecurity will occasionally haunt us, it is unrealistic to assume that any of us will ever be fully free of those limiting and hurtful thoughts.
But, with a strong sense of self you are able to refocus and get yourself back onto the path much more quickly when you're confronted with those moments.
Because you know and understand that we can not be rid of our insecurities by comparing ourselves to others. And, the jealousy that often entwines itself around the insecurity is nothing more than an unkind feeling meant to tear others down while only offering us a false sense of self importance.
This is beautifully freeing!
So, how do we develop this freeing and beautiful sense of self? Well friends, I don't have all the answers. But what I do have are some suggestions and tips that I can offer from my own not always successful attempts and slow growth.
I'll soon be sharing those with you.
In the meantime I'd love for you to leave your thoughts below so we can all learn from one another.
What is your opinion of comparison and social media?
Do you agree or disagree with my belief that the answer to the issue is in knowing who you are?