A while back on Instagram, I polled my followers and asked what topics they think should be talked about more when it comes to motherhood. Today’s topic was suggested a few times.
I know at one point in time, we have all compared our lives to a random stranger’s on the internet.
Whether it was her perfectly decorated house, the Pinterest-worthy birthday party, the luxury vehicle, the ginormous engagement ring, or the perfectly matched sibling outfits… We have all been caught in the comparison trap.
And for good reason.
Generally speaking, what we see on social media is the pretty, posed, and polished.
It’s usually cropped and photoshopped (or filtered.. I’m looking at you, Instagram stories). So, who wouldn’t compare their everyday, seemingly mundane and insignificant real life, to someone’s gorgeous, over-the-top social media feed.
Instagram Vs. Reality
I hate to admit I am guilty of posting the pretty and put together, even though I created my instagram account with the intention of sharing real, honest motherhood. I still try to do this in the captions of my posts or in stories, but most of the time I try to keep my feed cohesive.
It honestly has more to do with my OCD tendencies than anything else, BUT I have questioned whether or not I was accurately portraying myself on socials. And maybe you have too.
Sometimes we get caught up in the world of filters that make our faces look totally different and posting the pictures that we’ve added presets to.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of it. I do it and I’m sure you do too. This is not the problem.
The problem is when we forget to distinguish between reality and social media.
Sometimes the smiles and “picture perfect” is actually someone’s reality but there are times when it isn’t. There’s a saying that says, “sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake.”
And that’s true. Not everything you see, day in and day out is an accurate representation of someone’s life. It’s simply a snapshot in time.
It is a second of someone’s life, not the whole picture.
Comparison is a Lose-Lose Game
When we compare ourselves to others, we convince ourselves there is a bar of perfection, and the other person has reached perfection while we on the other hand are struggling to just make it through our day.
That’s how things appear, at least.
Sometimes we compare our children with someone else’s. We see what their kids are up to and are able to do, while wondering if our kids are behind in some way.
We compare ourselves as moms and worry we aren’t feeding our kids the right things, if we give them too much screen time, or if we aren’t attentive enough.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the comparison trap. (I’d love to hear from you and what areas you struggle most when it comes to comparison.)
Whatever way you tend to compare yourself, realize you aren’t alone. We all play the comparison game. And it’s not one we usually win.
I want to share a few practical tips that will hopefully help you stop comparing yourself to others. However, comparison looks for you.
Tip #1 – Take a Break From Social Media
So, how can we stop comparing?
Well the first practical thing you can do is put your phone down… Or, take a break from socials.
I know you’re thinking, “well duh?!”
But sometimes tit needs to be said, because it is what you so desperately need.
A full reset. A social media break.
One sure way to stop comparing yourself is to remove the source.
If you feel a tendency to compare when scrolling social media, just take the app off your phone, unfollow certain people (or mute them – yes this is a thing!)
We actually weren’t created to know what every single person is doing in real time, every waking moment of the day. But this is the society we live in.
If you feel like this may be helpful for you, I want to challenge you to do it. Maybe for a few days, or maybe a few weeks.
I promise it will reset your perspective and it may be just what you need to get yourself out of the comparison trap.
When you come back to socials, be sure to be mindful of who and what you follow. And continue to take breaks as needed.
Tip #2 – Focus on What You Do Have
The next thing you can do is focus on what you DO have instead of what you DON’T have.
Again, this is not earth shattering, but if you actually do it, this WILL make all the difference. Contentment will never be found in longing for what someone else has.
So next time you catch yourself thinking, “I wish I had that or I wish my kids did this…” think about what you do have. As cheesy as it’s going to sound, think about the blessings in your life.
Maybe start writing those down. Then, whenever you find yourself comparing, look at what you’ve written as a reminder.
You will start to get into the habit of seeing your blessings, instead of wishing for more.
Tip #3 – Take Ownership of Your Story
Take ownership of your story. Regardless of what you do or don’t have, or whatever you’ve gone through, all of those things make you who you are.
You are hopefully a better person because of your life experiences. Maybe you’re in the middle right now and don’t see how anything good can come from what you’re going through.
Most of us have been in that place.
It takes time, unfortunately. But it’s something you can process and work through to begin to see how your life experiences can be used for good.
Take me for example. 7 years ago I would have never understood the season I was in.
I didn’t see how good could come from it. But now I try to encourage moms right where they are BECAUSE OF the things I’ve experienced in motherhood.
When you can start to see value in your story, you can own your story and be more confident in who you are.
There is no other person in the world like you. You are an individual. You are valuable because of this simple fact. There’s no other you! Remember that.
Tip #4 – Run Your Own Race
Use yourself as the bar. Run the race against yourself.
Always try to do better than you did yesterday.
Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come. Think about all the accomplishments you’ve made in life.
You are your own standard. Not anyone else. Don’t focus on what she’s doing or where she’s at.
There’s a quote that says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
However, you also shouldn’t compare your beginning to someone else’s beginning. She’s not running your race and you aren’t running hers. Y’all aren’t even on the same track.
Your lives are totally separate. You don’t know how many times she has tried and failed before succeeding.
SO often we see someone’s success story. We see the amazing transformation. We see the results. But what we aren’t seeing is the months and years of hard work, falling and getting up to try again… The determination.
This what you aren’t seeing most of the time on social media.
So use yourself as the standard.
How are you doing now compared to one year ago? If you don’t like the answer, then what can YOU do to change that?
Put your blinders on and your head down, GIRLFRIEND. This is your race.
Picture-Perfect Is Deceiving
You truly don’t know what someone is going through.
I know there have been times when I’ve idolized a Hollywood couple only to later learn they were filing for divorce. Even worse, I’ve done this same thing to someone I knew in real life.
I mean you would think with all the money and fame in the world, whatever you could possibly need: meals probably cooked for you, house cleaned for you, everything done for you… Life would be carefree and full of happiness, but this not always the case.
I know I’ve admired couples in real life only to learn that their reality wasn’t actually what was being portrayed on social media. And I think this is all of us at one point or another.
Some of the most wealthy people have admitted to being completely miserable at one time.
In a sense I’ve found this to be true in my own life, not with wealth necessarily, but with having all the THINGS… Babies, family, and more than one would think would make me content and happy. Truth be told, I was empty and miserable at one point.
I can personally attest to having everything you could ever want, and seeming like I had it all together, but on the inside, things are falling apart.
Thankfully, this is not where I’m at now. I’ve learned happiness and true joy is a choice and while it can take a lot of work, it is possible.
She Has Struggles Too
Trust me when I say, whoever she is for you, has her own set of struggles, insecurities, and times of hardship.
You may not see them, because you only see the surface, but they are there. It’s not natural to bring all of these things to socials. It feels better to put all of the good things there.
All of the smiles, the vacations, the one picture out of 75, where the kids are actually looking and smiling at the same time. It’s just NOT reality.
She probably yelled a few times before getting her kids to finally cooperate. Her kids have tantrums just like yours. They refuse vegetables just like yours.
The person you’re comparing yourself to has her own set of struggles, worries, fears, frustrations, setbacks, and insecurities. You just don’t see them.
You are Capable of Killing Comparison
Comparison will keep you stuck in an unhealthy cycle of self-pity, shame, and a victim-like mentality.
It will always make you feel like you don’t measure up, like you aren’t good enough, like you aren’t (WHATEVER) enough!
You don’t want that for yourself, so take some control back. Implement some boundaries and realize, first of all, you have worth.
You have SOMETHING to be thankful for.
You DO have a say in what you let in. You do have a say in how you consume social media and tv. You have a say in who you surround yourself with.
Maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of those areas.
When you feel good about yourself and where you’re at, it doesn’t matter what someone else is doing. TRUST ME when I say this.
Comparison often reveals our own insecurities. So pay attention next time you find yourself comparing your circumstances to someone else’s.
Get in the practice of becoming more self aware and exploring what those automatic thoughts may mean.
A lot of it can be subconscious, so it will take some work of being intentional. But believe me, it is worth it to do the work.
I hope these practical tips help you stop comparing yourself, especially with what you see on social media.
Remember things are not always as the appear. And don’t forget, you were made for more!