Keeping an eye on whether lawns were trimmed. Kids were polished. Who served the best martini or chicken broccoli casserole.
Now we have the giant reflective mirror of Facebook and other social media which displays the backyards of others as they want us to see it.
Most will show it all spiffed up.
Some will do the opposite. They show messy houses. Grimy kids. Trying in some ways to balance out the seeming perfection of the view from our screens.
I like seeing pictures of everybody’s kids and grandkids. Smiling couples celebrating anniversaries. Folks going on exotic trips, with views of mountain ranges or hot air balloon rides.
I often hear, “I can’t look at Facebook anymore.” The comparison between what is going on in someone’s life and what they perceive is happening in others is so vastly different, it is too painful. Even though they can reason that it’s a perception. Probably not reality.
Simply by turning on social media, feelings of inadequacy bubble up. Take over.
Nagging. Yammering about who you aren’t. What you don’t have. Or do. Or plan to do.
I say “they.” I would be lying if I didn’t admit to some of this myself.
Since beginning blogging, and spending 500% more time on social media than ever before, it’s difficult to occasionally not fall into the pit of comparison. If my mind goes there, it absolutely ruins the whole thing. Takes the pleasure out of writing.
So I do my best to make it stop.
As a friend of mine said the other day, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Quoting Teddy Roosevelt himself.
This is the key for me.
We all stand within many spectrums. Like circles round us. And we have our place in each one of them. There will be someone in front of you on that spectrum. Who possesses something you admire and wish for.
And there will be someone behind you.
You may at times wish you had the ability to laugh something off like your co-worker does. But your neighbor wishes she had your talent for gardening.
You may wish you were taller. But your buddy wishes he had your ability to see through a problem quickly. Concisely.
You may wish you had gone farther in school. Someone else, who you don’t even know admires you, discovers you have your GED and thinks, “Wow, look how much she has accomplished!”
People who compete. And win. We throw confetti. Pay them more money. Give them a better job in the company.
Carrying around – all day – every day – some yardstick that you are secretly measuring yourself by? Holding it up constantly to determine, “How am I doing?” “Am I good enough?” “Do people like me?”
It’s like being in a game that never ends. There are no quarters or halftimes. No final bells or whistles.
You can stop.
It takes practice. You have to catch yourself when your mind is going there. Literally jerk your mind back to the present moment. And focus on you. On what you have control of. Of what you can do. Today. To make this day meaningful or productive for you.
[tweetthis]Dare to not compare. Stand in the light that is your own. #drmargaret[/tweetthis]
That was a power point slide for a presentation I gave at two different blogging conferences last year. On coping with anxiety as a blogger. In the first, I had a nice little audience. 20… 25.
The second? I watched as 7, maybe 8 (counting me…) trickled in.
I gulped. Talk about an opportunity for not comparing…
I have had two of those bloggers contact me since then. Both went into therapy after listening to my presentation. Realizing they were all balled up with anxiety. One has gone on to write the book that she has always wanted to write. It is being published.
Someone may be looking at you right now. As you live your day today. See you as someone they would like to emulate.
(If you just said to yourself, “That would never be me,” you have some definite work to do…)
Admire others. Have mentors. People who inspire you.
I agree with Teddy. You will lose more than that battle.
You will lose your joy in living.
You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!
My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.
And there’s a new way to send me a message! You can record by clicking below and ask your question or make a comment. You’ll have 90 seconds to do so and that time goes quickly. By recording, you’re giving SelfWork (and me) permission to use your voice on the podcast. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!