Westside Psych


The Comparison Trap


In the era of social media it is harder than ever to not compare yourself to others. However, comparing yourself to someone else's perfectly curated Instagram version of themselves can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Understanding the origin of social comparison and how it operates can help us to mitigate some of its negative effects and amplify the good- both online and off.  Below are some tips taken from psychologytoday.com on how we can all practice healthy social media behavior. 

You Do You: A How-To
1. Seek Connection, Not Comparison
"Limit time on social media, but more important is how that time is used," says Mitch Prinstein, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina. Instead of passive scrolling, send private messages, talk about shared experiences, seek genuine emotional connection, and use social media in general to "foster the kind of relationships known to be valuable offline."

2. Look Up, Just a Little
Decades of research suggest that upward comparison can provoke motivation and effort; children who compare themselves to peers who slightly outperform them have produced higher grades, for instance. Seeing that the path to improvement is attainable is key—you're better off comparing yourself to someone a rung or two above you than to someone at the very top of the ladder.

3. Count Your Blessings
If you focus on the good things in your life, you're less likely to obsess about what you lack. Loretta Breuning, the author of Habits of a Happy Brain, recommends engaging in "conscious downward comparison." For instance, Breuning says, compare yourself to your ancestors.  "You don't have to drink water full of microbes. You don't have to tolerate violence on a daily basis. It'll remind you that despite some frustrations, you have a fabulous life."

4. Compare Yourself to...Yourself
Like the tendency among older people to measure themselves against their own past, Sonja Lyubormirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside and the author of The How of Happiness notes that "people who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation." It's not that they don't notice upward comparisons, she says, but they don't let that affect their self-esteem, and they stay focused on their own improvement.  "A happy runner compares himself to his last run, not to others who are faster."

5. Pursue Upward-Joy
Based on his own Buddhist practice, San Francisco psychiatrist Ravi Chandra recommends using the social comparison impulse as a springboard for true self-growth. He recounts his own effort to do so in a new book, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks! "Instead of generating envy, which is a form of hostility, explore what you admire and appreciate about other people and cultivate joy for their success," Chandra says. "It can be a catalyst for personal growth."

To learn more check out this great article:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201711/the-comparison-trap?collection=1107987