Comparing yourself to everyone around you is far too easy. Especially at this time of year. Social media is loaded with pictures of holidays and bikinis and camp fires. Sure, you know it’s not the full story. You know that it’s a curated version of someone’s life. But it becomes almost impossible not to compare it to our own lives. And chances are very high that we’re sitting on the couch in our pajamas while doing the comparing. So we’re feeling at our lowest, looking at people presenting their highest. And it can mess with you.
But it not only affects your own sense of well being, it also impacts your relationship with others. “In a perfect world, we would celebrate and genuinely enjoy the joys and accomplishments of others,” says Psychology Today. “Yet if we use others as a benchmark to evaluate ourselves, that creeping twinge of jealousy may undermine our ability to truly cherish the good things that come to others. Just remember: Over time, things may even out, and a friend’s success may enable him or her to support and make opportunities for others (including you)…”
A little bit of jealousy is normal, but if you’re comparing too much then that will boil into resentment. And then your relationships will suffer, because resentment is destructive. It creeps into how you view the other person. You start feeling like they don’t deserve what they have. That you deserve it more. Soon, it manages to warp your whole perspective. So though it may be difficult, it’s really important that you keep the comparisons in check. Especially when it comes to social media.
Focus On Self-Improvement
Is there a way out? Well, normally you would never get advice to be more self-involved, but in this case it may actually do the trick. Looking at how you can improve— and forcing yourself to compete against yourself— can make a huge difference.
“By focusing on self-improvement rather than one-upmanship, we’ll have a more realistic and insightful strategy for reaching our goals, and ideally, our friends and loved ones will be there to support us along the way.”
Sure, it can feel a little forced sometimes. Focusing on yourself and how you’re doing is really difficult when everyone else is sharing their accomplishments. I was training for a marathon, thudding away slowly day after a day, while another friend ran one in a half an hour faster than I did— with almost no training at all. But I had to focus on the fact that I ran it faster than I thought I could. I had to get excited about that and leave her totally out of it. It really wasn’t easy.
Giving yourself short-term goals, whether personal or professional, can help. The more you do for yourself, the more you’ll be able to feel happy for other people’s accomplishments. And that’s something that you and your friendships can benefit from. Achievement, happiness, well-being— these things aren’t finite. There’s way more than enough to go around.