By: Lindsay Shoemake
It lurks in the back of our minds; in the back of our closets with the jeans that no longer fit; in conversations with acquaintances who seem to have it all “together” – whatever that even means. I’m talking about comparison, and it’s become a pervasive, mutually shared issue among women.
Ever since I became more self-aware of my own image, personality and weaknesses in middle school, comparison has played a poisonous role in my life. In the past it led me to hold myself to unattainable standards, restrictive diets, deviating from my dreams and being generally unhappy with each season of life.
Now, I won’t let the comparison game play a role in my story.
This change didn’t happen overnight, and I’m far from perfect in terms of turning a blind eye to others who have the business, friend groups, homes and picture-perfect lifestyles that I desire. I’d be lying if I said that an impromptu scrolling session through Instagram hasn't ruined my day - it has, and it pains me to admit that.
However, I’ve learned a thing or two the benefits of removing yourself from the comparison game after saying “no” to comparing and “yes” to more self-reflection and acceptance in the last year, and the positive confidence changes in my life have been tremendous.
With a little mindfulness, disconnecting and self-care, you too, friend, can win back your life and live your own story to its fullest without comparing it to everyone else’s highlight reel. Don’t believe me? Here are a few daily practices that helped me:
It might be time for a social media fast.
I’ve worked in social media since the start of career, meaning that I’m hyper-connected and always immersed in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for at least 40 hours a week. When you’re that connected, sometimes the lines between your reality and the lives of others can become blurred. I found myself nearly in tears after scrolling through the lives of beautiful bloggers, wondering why I hadn’t yet attained that level of success, notoriety or beauty in my life just yet. “Why not me?” became my new mantra, and a dangerous one at that.
After acknowledging that social media was taking a toll on my self-esteem, I took a social media fast over the course of a long weekend. Three whole days without social media may seem easy to some, but for those of us who are connected all the time, it can feel like an eternity.
Those three days healed me.
Taking a break from everyone else’s highlight reel might just be what you need, to. Taking a step back from social media to inhale all of the good that’s going on in your life and exhale the comparison, negative thoughts and highlight reels of others is a step toward self-love and healing.
My tip? Delete all relevant apps from your phone so you aren’t even tempted to check while taking a break from social media!
Talk yourself up - to yourself.
Ask yourself: “Does being kind to myself come naturally?” If not, it’s time to assess why not, and how you can begin practicing daily self-love.
I know it sounds silly, but I love keeping a notebook handy full of lists – I’ve always been an organizer and list maker, and a notebook is necessary at all times. The next time you’re alone in a serene place, I encourage you to jot down a fast list of the qualities about yourself that you love. These can be physical, mental or life-related attributes.
From there, I challenge you to add three more attributes that you treasure about yourself for the next week. This can be harder than you think, but the end result is always worth it!
Love on others that need it.
It’s hard to focus on your perceived shortcomings when you’re fully engaged in pouring into someone else’s life - whether it’s a conversation over coffee, volunteering at your local animal shelter, or visiting with a grandparent.
Instead of giving time and energy into negative thoughts and comparison, take that energy and use it up in a more life-giving way. I assure you - you’ll never regret grabbing coffee with that long lost friend, but you will regret picking yourself apart, alone, while wondering why your life doesn’t look like “hers.”
I’m proud to say that I’m beating the comparison game more and more each day by giving myself grace and picking myself back all when I fall victim to “why not me?”. You already have everything in yourself that it takes to walk into a life of self-love, purpose and contentment. It’s time to make it happen in the best way possible.