The comparison trap
Do you ever feel like everyone else around you is succeeding? And you are failing miserably or just scraping by?
This feeling is all too common when we compare ourselves to those around us. You get on Facebook, eager to see notifications and messages from friends. But as you stay a while and start looking at the home page, everyone is seemingly happy — with a big smile plastered on their faces. And usually they are in some exotic location. There are very few pictures of angry people or ugly locales.
I’m guilty as charged. I don’t take many pictures, but when I do, they are usually ones that make me proud or excited. My sons’ first day of school, special occasions like birthdays and holidays, or travel photos are commonalities among my Facebook posts.
But the posts are just a highlight reel.
Do I take pictures when my three-year old is having a temper tantrum? No. It would make me look like a bad mom.
Did I capture the moment when my oldest son smeared Vaseline over his entire room? No, because I was too angry to find it funny.
Will I snap a photo in the future when I ask my son – for the tenth time — to get off the iPad and join the rest of the family? Highly unlikely.
SOCIAL MEDIA & DEPRESSION
This Forbes article states it clearly: users who use social media frequently (an average of 61 minutes daily) are 2.7 times more likely to suffer from depression. Now, I’m not here to tell you to delete all your social media accounts. BUT, like anything else, there can be a healthy and unhealthy level of social media exposure.
I personally go on Facebook about twice weekly and spend twenty minutes or less there. Oftentimes, it is just responding to group posts. Only once a month do I go to the home page and actually look at friend or family posts (unless tagged via Notifications). To me, this is enough to keep up with contacts but not so much that I fall into the comparison trap.
THE COMPARISON TRAP
Alright, let’s move on from social media for a moment. Where else do you feel compelled to compare yourself to others? At work? Within your business? Financial net worth? Parenting skills?
You cannot be all things to all people. There is this myth that we can “have it all.” The truth is, no one has it all figured out. Your life will always feel slightly off balance. Work may take a priority over your home life for a season. Or kids’ activities may force you to leave work one hour early each day. There will always be someone with more money in the bank than you, and that’s OK.
This doesn’t mean that you stop striving towards something better. Quite the opposite. Neuroscience confirms that happiness is directly linked to the act of seeking. But as Christians, our hearts will be restless until we rest in Him.
You are enough.
You are worthy of the gifts bestowed upon you. You have the power to make a tangible difference in others’ lives. You are wonderfully and perfectly made.
I attended a women’s leadership intensive in northern Wisconsin in mid-October, and one of the key takeaways from our gathering is this idea that I am enough. Like you, I struggle with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Later in October, I attended Jeff Goins’ Tribe conference. It provides a wonderful opportunity to sit among other writers and creatives who want to spread an impactful message to the broader population. But it is also intimidating. Most of the speakers are Jeff’s personal friends who have made a monumental impact and have grown significant online followings through their work.
Driving to Nashville for Tribe, I couldn’t help but get nervous at the thought of meeting these speakers and hearing their climb to “success.” And yet, not one of them spoke about how successful they were. Rather, each speaker shared an uplifting story of how they persevered and moved past the comparison trap to accomplish their goals. How they innovated and courageously stepped into a new path that few had gone before.
If they can do it, you can do it. What’s stopping you from leaving the comparison trap and pursuing your dreams?