The more prolific social media becomes, the more prone we all are to the comparison trap.
You know what I’m talking about. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and getting down on yourself because you failed to make a filtered to perfection protein pancake breakfast dripping with homemade coconut-oil chocolate sauce with a side glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice that you picked off your very own orange tree.
You’re on the subway, feelin’ ready to conquer the day after a great 3 mile run in Central Park. You open that favorite app of yours and suddenly, your 3 miles seems like it wasn’t good enough amongst peers who busted out a casual 15k before 8 a.m.
As I’ve written about before, I think it’s so so important for us to realize that the people whose posts are making us feel inferior are likely going through the exact same thing every time they scroll through their feed.
No one is safe from this trap.
There are lots of articles out there about how to steer clear of this unpleasant and perhaps dangerous psychological pattern and I think they’re really well-intentioned. I read them and I feel ready to open Instagram free from self-judgement.
But that lasts about 2 seconds.
I also know myself, and I know that there’s no way in hell I’m breaking my Instagram habit.
So instead of trying to figure out a way to avoid it completely, I have a different suggestion.
I suggest accepting the fact that some days we will be more susceptible to this kind of negative self-judgment. Some days we will compare ourselves to others in a way that gets us down. And quite frankly, I think that’s OK. I think that’s normal. I think that means we are human.
I also think there will be days where we are able to see that negative self-talk coming on and we will have the ability to sidestep it. We will tell that picture perfect breakfast:
There will be days where we see someone accomplishing something inspiring before 8 a.m. and instead of beating ourselves up about it, we will say, “Damn, that’s badass – good for so and so. Maybe tomorrow I’ll start my journey to unassisted pull-up greatness too!”
Accepting that these are both completely normal reactions will help us to acknowledge and accept our feelings on any given day.
The last thing you need to do when you’re comparing yourself to someone else because of something you saw on social media, is to get down on yourself FURTHER because you aren’t “enlightened” enough to avoid the comparison trap entirely.
So remind yourself that you’re human and cut yourself some slack.