Ever feel like you just don’t measure up? Like no matter where you look there is someone that is better than you, in some way? If you do then I’m sure that you feel pretty small and insignificant much of the time. If you do, you are not alone! Although I don’t want to blame social media for this because people compared themselves to others way before social media was around, it definitely makes it harder and harder to resist.
“She is so much smarter than me. I am so stupid!”
“I am so ugly, I look nothing like the beautiful, popular girls!”
“He makes everyone laugh and they all must think I am so boring!”
Social Comparison Theory states that we compare ourselves to others to figure out who we are and to try to achieve an accurate self-evaluation. When we make a downward comparison, comparing ourselves to someone who we perceive as being lower than us on the dimension of comparison, we often feel better about ourselves. When we make an upward comparison, the belief is that we will be motivated to strive to achieve and better ourselves. These can both be positive outcomes for the individual. The problem is that we often make upward comparisons on aspects that we have little control over and/or end up feeling bad instead of motivated.
If you find that your comparisons are making you feel worse instead of better or more motivated, keep in mind that just because someone may be smarter, skinnier, or funnier doesn’t mean that you aren’t all those things as well. I often hear clients and others make these comparisons in an all or nothing way. Somebody else’s strengths or success does not make you less than because you are your own person independent of them. And the object is not to drive yourself crazy trying to strive for perfection or to be the best.
Resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Instead look inside yourself first to determine who you are. If you are still unsure, go to a trusted loved one to get their point of view on those things that we are often blind to within ourselves. And while you’re at it, forget using social media for comparisons. You are only seeing the picture that looked the best and not the other 20 that weren’t flattering!