Stop Comparing Your Life to Other’s – The Social Media Problem

Does looking at other people’s profiles (especially your friends) make you feel bad if you see them doing amazing things?

Be honest here. It’s important to identify the things which make us respond with more anxiety. When we are aware of the things that “push our anxiety buttons” so to speak, we can learn to manipulate our environment.

In other words, we can stop engaging in behaviours which feed our anxiety and focus on things which make us feel good about ourselves.

What I used to do

When I was stuck in a cycle of anxiety, I would spend an awful amount of time looking at my friends Facebook profiles and feeling insecure when I would see them doing more things than I was currently doing. I was stuck in my house at the time living in fear of pretty much everything, so you can imagine how frustrating and emotionally painful it felt

As you already know, our lives become fairly limited when we suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. So, when, for example, we see that Katie is currently travelling the world and Scott is on holiday in some exotic country with his mates, it makes us feel inadequate in some way.

I would have no energy left for doing anything else because I would feel emotionally and mentally depleted by comparing my real life to other people’s online lives. I would go to bed lying there worrying about if I would always be in this state and situation.

The next day, I would repeat the same behaviours and wonder why I would go to bed the next night feeling so bad about myself.

I knew that I had to change and stop doing the things which were making me feel more insecure and anxious. So, I deleted my facebook account and just focused on my own life.

I focused on recovering from anxiety, spent time doing the things I wanted to do, even if it was small things at first. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how small the action is. It just matters that you steer your focus away from the things that disempower you.

Why am I stuck in my house, feeling the way I do, whilst these people are having a whale of time?

First of all, if you’re reading this, then you almost certainly have an emotional disorder – anxiety. If you are a severe case, then you know how debilitating it can be.

So, it’s very normal for you to not be doing much at all. For this reason, it doesn’t make any sense to complain about it.

It’s only our insecure and fearful interpretation of our situation and then comparing our situation to other people who probably don’t even have an anxiety disorder in the first place.

Think about it, if they had anxiety to an extreme extent, would they be doing what they’re currently doing? Probably not.

It’s very unlikely. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone with anxiety doesn’t go to places and live reasonably expansive lives. It’s just very, very unlikely they would when they have a severe case of anxiety.

I didn’t really go anywhere. It’s only recently (past few years) that I’ve been exploring new places.

There’s ultimately nothing wrong with looking at other people’s online social media profiles. It’s just unhealthy when we start comparing their online life with our reality.

What I recommend

I recommend stopping yourself from spending time scrolling through your facebook or instagram feed and seeing what other people are doing. Now I know this cannot always be helped. We can’t stop ourselves from seeing someone’s update when we log on – we have no control over that.

However, we do have control over stopping ourselves from going down the rabbit hole. From actively looking deeper into things. We can always stop ourselves from clicking on someone’s profile and then scanning all of their pictures.

It only serves to promote feelings of insecurity and “not enough” because all this does is make us feel frustrated, sad, lonely and more anxious. Whenever you get the urge to do so, just remind yourself of how “shitty” it makes you feel.

Trust me, you will feel less insecure and anxious when you stop spending time looking at what other people are doing. Try to catch yourself when you’re unconsciously doing it and stop that behaviour.

Because it’s this behaviour of focusing on other people’s lives and feeling insecure which sends a message to your brain that there is something wrong with you. This only puts us in a situation that makes us feel even more helpless and isolated.

Instead…

Focus on the things that make you feel emotionally comfortable. The things that you enjoy doing. What is it that brings you to life? What is it that pulls you out of the darkness, even if it’s for a very short time? What were the things you were doing before you suffered from a high anxiety condition? Focus on doing them again and stick with them.

Of course, start on a much smaller scale, especially if you’re currently housebound. But, the point I’m making is, don’t waste your time and energy making yourself feel even more anxious by habitually looking at other people’s profiles because this will just create a deception.

The deception is, whilst people do have awesome experiences (the stuff they are posting on their social media profiles), this is not a true representation of their lives, at least it isn’t on a constant basis.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Steve Furtick

The amazing experiences that they show us are usually just the highlights of their lives. Unless of course they work in a job which requires them to constantly travel to different countries or they live in a hot and beautiful place.

But, usually, these people are the exceptions. They are not posting their everyday reality, the stuff behind the scenes because it’s not considered pretty or cool.

Is there any point in comparison?

Only you can answer this. For me, it did nothing but promote feelings of shame, insecurity, jealously, self-pity, “not enoughness” and anxiety. Why would I want to engage in something that makes me feel all of these emotions? Why would I focus on something which only added more fuel to an already burning fire?

The only good thing which can come from comparing our lives to other’s is it can make us feel inspired. There is absolutely nothing wrong with looking at someone on holiday and saying to yourself, “wow! I’d love to go there” or showing the world (social media) something they did and think “I’d like to do that myself.”

If it makes you react in a positive way, then that’s great! I’m all for it.

It only becomes an issue when we start emotionally responding in a negative way. So, if you are currently suffering from an emotional disorder (anxiety), then it’s most likely that you’ll respond in a emotionally negative way. This is mainly because we see the world with a distorted pair of lens. Everything is tainted with a negative and fearful perception, so it’s only normal that we’d feel the way we do.

If that is the case, I highly, highly recommend that you stop looking at what other people are doing and focus on building your own life.

Always remember – everyone is going at their own pace. Everyone is on their own timeline. We can’t always do things at the same time as everyone else because it just wouldn’t add up. Don’t feel pressured or rushed into doing things because you see that other people are.

I like what Jay Shetty said. “You need to destroy the idea that there’s an expectation to do things by a certain age. You don’t have to be married with kids at 25. It’s okay to not have your dream job at 30 or to not have graduated by 22. There are no rules to life. Life is neither a race, nor a competition.”

He also said: “Don’t let other’s rush you with their timelines.”

Social media promotes the fear of missing out (FOMO)

How many times have you looked at someone’s profile and felt that you were missing out? This is because social media promotes the fear that we’re somehow missing out. It literally wires our brain the more we use it in this way. We start to feel like our lives do not mean anything because we are not having all of these wonderful experiences.

Not only this does it make us feel that we are not doing enough. It also makes us more anxious about our body image, especially when we see all these instagram “beauties”.

More often than not, a lot of these accounts where the people look amazing are actually using software on their phone/computer which makes them look unrealistically attractive.

People who are not comfortable with their own self-image will start to beat themselves up for not looking as attractive as some of the pages on Instagram. Don’t fall for the illusion.

This is why social media is one of the most deceptive things to ever exist. It gives everyone the opportunity to hide the ‘not-so-good’ moments.

Why you shouldn’t feel bad

You shouldn’t feel bad because what you see doesn’t tell the whole story. Not only this, but you shouldn’t feel bad because you are enough as you are. Regardless of what other people are doing and how immaculate their social media profiles are, you are always going to be enough.

Accept your current life situation as it is right now. No matter how bad you perceive it to be, accept it. Make peace with your life situation. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, that is fantastic – carry on doing what you’re doing. If you’re not happy, then you can change things. Just please don’t let society tell you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing. Change things at a pace you are happy and comfortable with. After all, it’s your life and you make the rules.

You are you. You don’t have to try and fit in to what society expects of you. You shouldn’t have to feel bad about yourself because you are going through a very difficult time. Living with anxiety is so hard. You are doing amazing as you are. I’ll do all I can to point you in the right direction of recovery so you can get back to doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. However, patience and persistence is key.

I hope this post has made it clear why social media can have a negative effect on us, especially when we are suffering from anxiety.

Your feedback is always appreciated.

Until next time 🙂