With so much of our time spent on social media, we are constantly bombarded with opportunities to compare ourselves to others. These social media platforms are particularly great at luring us into the comparison trap by giving us pictures of seemingly perfect lives. As we scroll through social postings we are exposed to an endless amount of edited, flawless images, and individuals flaunting their to-die-for experiences and daily occurrences. We see a highlight reel as reality and feel distraught when we can’t measure up to the unattainable.
However, comparisonitis has been around long before social media and has even been shown to have some positive use.
In a 1954 paper, Leon Festinger indicated that humans have an innate need for self-evaluation. We are all internally wired to evaluate others’ lives, using the act of comparison to determine how we measure up.
So in order to comprehend our own worth, we need something to compare ourselves to.
So then how can we use comparisonitis to our advantage?
Comparisonitis can be beneficial when you use it as a tool to better yourself.
For example, have you ever found yourself putting in extra effort when comparing yourself to another girl at the gym? Like when the girl on the treadmill beside you causes you to run a little bit longer.
In such instances, where we’re able to use comparison to push ourselves or try just a little bit harder. Therefore, we can use comparisonitis to improve ourselves and begin to grow as a result.
Comparisonitis can also be a great way to show you what you want in your life.
Comparisonitis often causes jealousy. Jealousy, like comparisonitis, can be negative. But jealousy can also show you a sign that you have been yearning for the thing you are jealous of. Jealousy, and subsequently comparisonitis, shows you what you desire.
For example, if you feel a bit jealous whenever you see your friends on vacation, you can look at it two ways:
You can either look at your envy as an opportunity to pout and play the victim card, or you can ask yourself why you feel jealous.
Perhaps you are craving a new adventure? Or maybe it’s a sign that you’ve been working too hard and need to relax? Or maybe it’s an indication that travel is important to you. So perhaps you may need to make some shifts to make travel a priority?
If you are aware of how comparison can impact you, you are able to use it to your advantage. However, without being prepared for the negative consequences of comparisonitis, it may be difficult to effectively navigate through its wrath without getting burnt.
So how can you combat the negative consequences of comparisonitis?
1) STAY ON YOUR OWN PATH
If you find yourself getting caught up in the comparison trap, ask yourself if what you are comparing is really important. Does it align with your values and desires, or is it something you only think you want because you see someone else have? When you focus back on your priorities in life, oftentimes the impact of comparisonitis will be lessened.
2) RECOGNIZE THAT IT IS ANOTHER FORM OF YOUR MEAN GIRL (OR EGO)
Our ego LOVES to focus on our inadequacies and enjoys making us feel bad about not having something. One of its primal jobs is to create a snowball effect of always wanting more. So by recognizing that the ego is the main culprit, you’re more likely able to stop comparison in its tracks.
3) BE CAREFUL OF THE CYCLE OF JUDGMENT
If you find yourself realizing that you are allowing comparison to take over, try not to judge yourself for it because this will just create a vicious cycle of judgment. Instead, recognize that you are making comparisons, ask yourself why you are comparing, and focus your energy on something else.
4) REFLECT ON YOUR STRENGTHS
Besides reducing stress levels and improving your overall happiness, focusing on your strengths also can be beneficial in managing comparisonitis. When focusing on your strengths, you will less likely find yourself becoming engrossed in focusing on your flaws, and more likely to have greater self-confidence. You will also be less likely to go into “victim mode” due to envy because the majority of your focus will be on what you are grateful for.
5) CONTROL THE EXPOSURE
Finally, if you find it challenging to escape comparison, try decreasing the exposure to it. Bring your awareness back to you (and away from what others are doing). This may mean taking a break from social media or choosing activities that take your mind off it and bring you back to the present.
Regardless, it’s important to be aware of what exposures cause you to feel comparisonitis. Knowing what causes you to spiral into comparisonitis, will allow you to quickly get out and a move away from comparison’s grasp.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO COMBAT COMPARISONITIS?