Do you very find yourself getting caught up in comparing yourself to your friends’/your colleagues' beautiful holiday, great job, well-behaved children, bigger, cleaner, immaculate house, ability to juggle so many plates with ease etc etc? Well, you are not alone. We all do it!
Research has shown that we naturally compare our own performance to that of others. We adjust how we see ourselves based on whether we see ourselves in cooperation (which makes us feel good) with others or in competition (which makes us feel bad).
This is because, as animals, our early survival depended on it and our feeling good also depends on it. When we feel on top, we release feel-good serotonin. When we are not, we release cortisol that tells your brain that your survival is threatened.
You will be prompted to do things to feel good. Your brain will punish you with social comparison because it worked for your ancestors in an attempt to try and get you back on top.
But your brain will find what it is looking for and if you are looking for people doing better than you (and there will always be some for every single one of us), you will find them.
So when you understand that this is not a flaw of yours and that your brain is doing this to ensure your survival, you can shift to another thought. You can focus on the pleasure of what you have achieved, your strengths instead of on the pain of what you perceive as your own shortcomings
Now that you know we ALL do it, including the ‘successful’ people:
1. remind yourself you are looking at a partial and carefully-selected picture of their lives.
2. Also remind yourself that somebody's level of success is testament to the hard work they've put in. Success does not come from nothing. What you are being shown on social media is the result of their hard work. They 've worked for it and if you work for 'it' too, you can have that success too.
The key is to define what kind of success you want for yourself, what not you haven’t got that someone else has. Getting clear on what success means to you is key. When you are clear on what type of success you want, you can then reverse engineer it and start deciding what you need to do to achieve it.
3. Also remind yourself that what sort of level of success somebody else has has no actual bearing on you and your life. It is no guide for you to follow and replicate. It is no reflection on you and definitely no threat to you.
If you are a new mother, for example, who has had no experience or exposure to babies and children in her life because she's been busy building her career (well done, by the way!), it makes no sense to compare yourself to someone who's had three children, a lot of support and exposure to children and years to learn what it is to be a mother. So pick your target. What kind of mother do you want to be? What kind of woman do you want to be? And start from there.
4. And if you find yourself comparing yourself to others again (which you will), remind yourself that your brain is doing this for your survival (not because you are flawed) and use their success as inspiration.
The brain loves progress so as long as you're moving forward, it doesn't matter which speed you are going at.