How To Stop Comparing Yourself On Facebook
Every time I’m on Facebook I see a new engagement photo, a squishy baby, a bride in a gown, a couple on a travel adventure. I remember when seeing these things made me feel like shit. I’d go on Facebook, mostly habitually, and log off feeling worse than before. Seeing everyone else happy made me feel like my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I wanted to be in love, sharing my happy moments with everyone, but instead I was fighting for a drowning relationship and trying to scrounge up enough money for a meal (forget a trip abroad). I was tired of happiness being rubbed in my face.
There have been several studies that show links to depressive symptoms and Facebook usage. Just last year a new study linked the depressive symptoms to social comparison, something I’m sure we can all relate to. The interesting thing about this particular study is that whether people perceived themselves in a lesser or better position than others, comparison in general created depressive effects. So basically we get depressed when we compare ourselves to others even if we judge ourselves as better. Fascinating, right?
If you’re someone who compares themselves to others on Facebook, the reality is that you’re probably doing the same thing in your every day life.
The problem isn’t necessarily Facebook, it’s a deeper underlying issue creating those difficult feelings. It took me a while to be able to recall the exact feelings I used to have going on Facebook because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. Now I happily "like" the array of chubby babies, vacation photos, and big moment celebrations being shared by my friends. I am genuinely happy for each of their happy moments, and it makes me feel good to celebrate with them just by witnessing the joyful moments of their lives. This is something you can feel, too.
The reason we compare ourselves to others is because we don’t feel good about our own lives. We feel like something is missing or lacking, so when we see other people living in joy our yearn for more for ourselves is heightened. These are deep issues that I work with my clients to face, but there are also simple things you can begin to do now to change how you feel when you see all the happy posts on Facebook.
The first thing you can do is acknowledge that you have the ability to be just as happy as everyone else appears to be. You can travel the world, hug a bunch of babies, and live whatever joy it is that you want for your own life. Everything is within reach, and the first step to it is to be able to let go of your own mind’s limitations.
Step one is to become conscious of your reactions to others. Often times we’re unconscious of the feelings that are arising until they’ve engulfed us.
If you know you tend to feel depressed after going on Facebook, become highly conscious of your own thoughts and feelings the next time you’re using it.
The goal is to catch yourself when something makes you feel badly or a negative thought pops up in relationship to what you’ve viewed. As soon as it happens you have a choice. You get to continue to indulge in the thought or you can wish the person happiness and realize that if you want that for your own life you can have it. Take that energy and realization and use it to better your own life instead of indulging in the negative thought stream and inevitable depressive states that come with jealousy and comparison.