Anxiety, restlessness, fear, jealousy, and insecurity are all indications that you are quite possibly, stuck in the comparison trap.
I’d like to paint a mental picture for you.
It won’t take long, I promise.
You are sipping your morning coffee, makeup-free and still in your jammies.
That afternoon you run into another friend while at Trader Joe’s and as you’re catching up, the topic turns to dinner plans. She’s got homemade chili and cornbread prepped and ready to go while you have…absolutely nothing.
In the Trader Joe’s parking lot, you get a text from a cousin who is vacationing in Thailand. She sends pictures of her latest adventures and it looks like she’s having a blast. You swallow the jealousy that starts to surface as you mentally calculate the last time you went anywhere.
Are you stuck in the comparison trap?
Look, we’re ALL guilty of it.
Even the women who run half-marathons, always have dinner figured out, and travel to Thailand.
Yep, even those women.
The people who look fresh, organized, energetic, and flawless don’t get a free pass.
They get stuck too.
The thing is, I KNOW this. And my hunch is that you do too.
I KNOW that everyone, at some time in their life, gets stuck in the comparison trap.
Of course, some of us have a tendency to get stuck more often than other people; we do have various personalities, temperaments, and life experiences to factor in, after all.
But the fact remains: None of us are immune to falling into the trap of comparison.
The problem is that I often forget this.
I forget that I’m not the only one who struggles with feelings of inadequacy and scarcity. We’re all human, after all!
Over the past couple of years, however, I’ve been making a conscious effort to overcome this tendency
And I can honestly share that I’ve found a handful of simple and effective practices that have helped me tremendously!
Here are the practices that help me avoid the comparison trap:
1. Limit social media use
I know, I know.
This one can be tough.
Now, I didn’t promise that these would be EASY practices for you to follow-through with, just that they are effective simple steps to take.
I can already feel the panic and hear the push back.
But I have to use social media for work!
Social media is how I stay in touch with my friends and family!
I need to make sure I stay up to date on what’s going on in the world!
Let’s address this realistically.
I’m not suggesting you eliminate social media, (although if you have the desire and you’re in a position to be able to, by all means, go for it!) But if you are planning to continue using social media, it’s time to put some parameters on how frequently you use it.
First, I want you to get crystal clear about how much time you spend daily on any form of social media. You may even want to track your specific use for a few days.
If you check your phone first thing in the morning, consider postponing this until a little later on. You may even want to give yourself a “screen start-time” each day.
At night, consider keeping your phone out of reach. It’s so easy to “just check one more thing!” before going to bed, only to wind up mindlessly scrolling for the next hour.
An important first step is to limit your social media use.
2. Be selective about who to follow on social media
The reality is that YOU control who you choose to follow.
This isn’t a snobby or hostile action. You don’t need to unfriend anyone or make a big deal about this.
Simply switch your settings and notifications so that your marathon running, gourmet cooking, and world-traveling friends aren’t the ones popping up in your feed all the time.
Again, this is YOUR choice.
Think of your connection to social media like you would a curator at an art museum. YOU are the curator and YOUR social media choices are the collections in your art museum.
Curate an environment that feels positive, accepting, and hospitable.
Be selective of who you choose to follow on social media.
3. Write down ONE thing every day to be grateful for
Oh boy, this one is POWERFUL!
I know a few people who write down three things they are grateful for every day.
This is a beautiful practice and I’ve tried it myself in the past.
But you know what?
Sometimes I have super rough days where it’s REALLY hard to come up with three whole things.
So I decided to modify this practice of gratitude.
Every night, before I go to bed, I write down ONE thing that I am grateful for. It can be as simple as my morning cup of coffee or as rare as seeing a double rainbow.
The point is simply to identify ONE thing to be grateful for.
Aside from my daily meditation practice, this has been the single most powerful exercise to improve my ability to avoid the dreaded comparison trap.
I strongly encourage you to begin a daily gratitude practice, recognizing ONE thing that you are grateful for.
4. Reflect on a few amazing past experiences
Take a few minutes and think back to some of the most amazing experiences you’ve had in your life.
It doesn’t matter what events come to mind, what matters is that they were special events to you and that they’ve created lingering cherished memories.
You may even want to look through some pictures of these experiences.
Just be sure to recognize your good fortune in having these events as part of your life’s journey.
Allow yourself to fill up with gratitude at the simple abundance you’ve had the privilege of experiencing.
See how you feel after you take a little time to reflect on a few amazing past experiences.
5. Be generous with compliments
Let’s be honest.
It can be hard to give someone a compliment when we’re feeling less than confident about our current set of circumstances.
Sometimes, when we notice that someone in our life has an unexpected talent, a valuable skill set, or some other desirable traits, our first reaction isn’t admiration.
We can be mature enough to admit it.
It’s not that we don’t want the absolute best for those around us, it’s just that we want the absolute best for them as well as for ourselves!
Am I right!?!
I made a promise to myself a few years ago.
I promised that anytime I had a positive thought about a person, I would share it with them.
Whether it’s a person’s appearance, skill set, talent, or personality trait, I am generous with my compliments when they are authentic and heartfelt.
And guess what happens when I do this?
Any possible jealousy starts to dissipate.
It’s really quite magical, actually!
I’ve learned that the more generous I am, the more generous I feel.
And I’d honestly, REALLY love the same thing for you!
So whenever possible, be generous with your compliments.
Remember, we all get stuck in the comparison trap from time to time. But these simple practices will help you move from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.