Social Media—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Social media can be a great tool for some things, and not so great for others. We can keep in touch with long distance family and friends without feeling like we are missing everything, and it provides inspiration, ideas, networking opportunities, and possibly new friendships. But often, I have heard people falling into the dreaded comparison trap. We all do it. The idea that the “grass is greener” or that other people have it so much better. Have you ever been scrolling social media and end up feeling worse rather than better? Maybe you’re seeing what other people are doing such as traveling, getting married, having kids, etc. and feeling like you don’t even come close to measuring up.
The Comparison Trap
The comparison trap occurs when someone measures their life against other people. This toxic habit can not only ruin your day by leaving you feeling jealous and resentful, but it can also lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and even disrupt your relationships. Comparison fuels the FALSE negative belief that you’ll never be good enough. Comparison is a thief of joy. When we’re too busy focusing on what other people are doing we are missing out on our own lives.
James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
What does the Bible say?
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
The Bible clearly tells us that we are made in God’s image and with a purpose, so when we are negatively comparing ourselves to others, we are feeding into the lies, and in a sense saying that God got it wrong. Ouch. We were not made to be exactly the same as other people, or to do the same things. We were each given unique gifts.
How to break free of the trap
- Decrease time spent on social media and instead spend time with God.
- Cultivate a healthy sense of identity & self-esteem.
- Know your worth. Its not just based on clicks, likes or followers.
- Shut down negative thinking.
- Focus on what’s going well in your life, things that you are thankful for, make a list of personal achievements.
- Assess how you are using social media. Are you passively scrolling to look at other people’s lives, or are you providing some value on social media such as interacting, sharing valuable information, or motivating others? Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.”
- Identify what you admire about others, rather than identifying how you don’t measure up.
- Remember that Social Media isn’t real life. People only post what they want you to see, that doesn’t mean their daily life actually looks perfect as it might on Instagram.
- Make yourself the comparison. Not doing so well in a class? Look at your last test score, learn from your mistakes and try to do better the next time. Not happy with your work evaluation? Look at your growth areas, put in the work and see if you can improve your next evaluation. Galatians 6:4-5 says, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
Next time you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, shift your focus. 1Thes 4:11-12 reminds us “…to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
If you feel like you’re stuck and need some guidance moving forward, contact Graceful Balance.