Why You Need to Stop Comparing Your Life to Other People’s Highlights

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Comparison - It’s something that we’re all probably guilty of doing at some stage in our lives. It can leave us feeling jealous, disappointed and even depressed, so why do we continue to do it and how can we get out of the constant cycle?

How are we comparing ourselves to others?

We seem to live in a world where we’re always aspiring to be different to how we are now. We compare ourselves to everyone, from our friends and family members, to work colleagues and even musicians, sport stars and people from reality TV shows.

We use the information we have about these people and pick apart our own lives, from our grades at school, or sporting ability, to our clothes size, homes, relationships and even pay checks.

What impact does social media have?

Once, our lives were kept relatively private, tucked away behind closed doors. But now, we post our lives online for everyone to see. So is social media making the problem worse?

With the help of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we end up comparing our behind-the-scenes lives, to other people’s highlights. What do I mean by this? Well, when we compare ourselves to others, we seem to pick out the things in our own lives we’re most unhappy or insecure about, such as our weight, career, or relationships.

In comparison, we look at the best things in other people’s lives. Think about your Facebook feed for example. It’s likely that your friends are quick off the mark to share a picture of their gigantic engagement ring from their perfect fiancé, or snaps from their latest all-inclusive holiday to Hawaii. But when was the last time you saw one of your friends post about how many job applications they’d sent and not heard back from, how much weight they’ve gained, or to announce the break up of their long-term relationship? It’s likely that your answer is “never”.

This means there is a disconnect between what we see online and what is actually happening. Because of this, we’re therefore comparing our lives to something that isn’t real, or even realistic.

How can we get out of the cycle?

Even if we do compare ourselves to others on a like-for-like basis, why should it even matter whether the highlights of our lives match or are better than someone else’s?

Not only is the behavior unrealistic, it’s damaging to our mental well-being and doesn’t help us move any closer to achieving our own goals. Isn’t it therefore time we stopped comparing ourselves to others and just be happy? To help you get out of this cycle, here are 4 tips to try:

1. Be aware of your behavior – The first step in making a real change is realizing that you compare yourself to others. Think about whether looking at people’s social profiles is a good use of your time and whether it makes you feel happy, or deflated afterwards.

2. Focus on your successes – It seems that by spending our time comparing ourselves to others, we’re losing sight of our own achievements. Take the time to create a list (either in your head or on paper) of everything you’ve achieved in your life and what you’re happy with. Don’t forget to think about these things next time you find yourself making comparisons.

3. Plan your own goals – Instead of aiming to be like someone else, think about what will make you happy. Set clear goals to help you achieve them.

4. Take a digital detox – If your news feed is full of posts that make you feel down about your life, it could be time to take a step back from social media. It doesn’t have to be for long, but can give you the chance to refocus on what’s really important to you.

Always be true to who you are and remember that nobody is perfect…