It seems obvious that the tendency to compare your life with others’ is second nature and cannot be stopped.
No wonder the social media has created such an epidemic of self-consciousness. With each visit to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest… we find ourselves faced with the temptation to compare our lives to the pictures we see. We know, of course, that what we are only shown the “postable” parts of our friends’ lives, but we still compare what we see to the parts of our lives that we would never post.
And they compare their “un-postables” with our “postables”.
It’s a trap.
The root of all unhappiness is comparison.
If we want to overcome our self-consciousness, we must recognize the danger of comparison and avoid it at all costs. Let’s consider how comparison affects our confidence:
Opinion overload. As humans, we desire acceptance, right? Now we have a “like” button to keep track of our popularity. It’s not just the kids who accept the numbers as true stats, and it’s not just teens who feel the pressure of knowing that their stats are public. There is a strong temptation to accept our social media responses as our worth–even when we know it actually has a lot to do with the timing of our posts or the fact that the service controls who they show it to.
“Likes” not the only problem.
Just as people have the courage to yell at another driver from the safety of their own car, they also feel safe to put their opinion on your media since they are not looking you in the eye. Sometimes this is encouraging, since otherwise they might also be just as shy about giving a compliment as they are a condemnation. But the truth is, people are more inclined to speak negative than they are positive. Especially when they are self-conscious themselves.
It’s a catch-22
Hurting people hurt people. If we want to overcome our self-consciousness, we must recognize the danger of getting caught in the cycle, because, like a drain that sucks dirty water down to the sewer, it’s a lot harder to get out of the spiral than it is to get in it. In order to succeed at most things in life, we must go against the mainstream–we cannot get pulled down that drain! I believe there are five practices we must commit to in order to overcome the trap of comparison and trade our self-consciousness for confidence.
- Stop trying to prove your self-worth. Recognize that you do not have to be good at everything. If you are good at something, enjoy it, but don’t try to force other people to enjoy it. Remember, everyone is struggling with their own comparison issues! Your worth does NOT depend on anyone else’s opinion any more than the value of your bank account changes because your accountant likes what you have or doesn’t. It is what it is.
- Stop excusing yourself. If your are not good at something, own it, don’t give excuses. When it’s something important, take responsibility for getting better at it, but don’t feel the reason why you messed up is everyone else’s business, just improve. When it’s something inconsequential, let it go. You cannot have every attribute or skill. Like the vehicle you chose for your own purpose, you were created with specific strengths (and therefore other weaknesses) for a unique purpose. Don’t waste your energy trying to do or be something you are not. A sports car is not supposed to climb dunes like a jeep!
- Appreciate yourself. People value that which is shown value. We see it on my husband’s job sites all the time: If a multimillion dollar home is disrespected by one subcontractor, the next one will leave his mess as well. You are valuable no matter how others treat you, but if you disrespect yourself, others may do so as well. Remember, it’s the Builder who creates your worth, not all the other imperfect people who help Him with the process.
- Let go of obsessions. Whether it’s fears, failures, hurts, hangups, habits or full blown pride–seek to find a balance in your own option of yourself. Wether you are hard on yourself or proud of yourself, it is self-consciousness, which is, in reality, selfishness. The only way to overcome self-consciousness is to become others-conscious. The cure is not to become heroically selfless, but to love your neighbor as yourself.
- Appreciate others. Everyone of us must face the trap of comparison. It is our choice to turn away from it or get sucked into the sewer. The sewer is jealousy and covetousness. Jealousy wishes for the things others have, which only pulls us into the other: covetousness, which despises the person who has what we want. Selfishness thinks we are the only one with difficulties behind the posts. The cure is not to sacrifice your desires, but to have faith that God is just. He helps each of us with our unpostable issues and rejoices in our postable ones. We should do the same for each other.
If you are feeling pulled down that trap of comparison, I encourage you to resist. Give yourself some grace, because this is a natural and strong battle that each of us must face. Do not linger in your recognition of the problem; instead turn from it immediately. When the urge to compare represents itself again, turn your focus toward appreciation. Admire the things you desire. Appreciate other people’s success, rejoice with them and the trap of self-consciousness will be released. Instead you will be inspired to BE a woman of Confident Beauty, which does not compare her worth to others’.
As an author and speaker, my greatest passion is in helping women and girls overcome confidence conflicts, especially those involving rejection, betrayal and loss. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Goodreads Also, please visit http://catrinawelch.com for more image- and life-coaching.