Part IV: Comparison - joy thief
Since I began my January blog series (which has been more a commitment to myself to write more regularly than an actual series), I've heard from lots of people -from women I've never met to close friends and as always, my mom. It's very rewarding to connect in such a genuine way and to know that my writing resonates with others. Among the many conversations, I've noticed a common theme coming up - comparison.
Here’s what I'm hearing:
"This post made me feel less alone. Sometimes, I scroll through my feed and it seems like everyone is happier than me!"
"Everyone else seems to have it all together, thanks for being so honest about what you go through."
"Your post was really refreshing; social media can make me feel like I'm the only one struggling."
I can really relate to these feelings and I'd venture to guess that you can too. There is a real comparison epidemic going on right now and I believe that it's inextricably linked to social media. It's been said that, "comparison is the thief of joy," which has me wondering why so many well-adjusted, intelligent, hard working women are struggling so much. Social media has become a cornerstone of modern communication but the thing is, it's likely stealing a lot of your joy!
I figured, I'd be the guinea pig and decided to take a closer look at my illicit affair with social media. Instagram is my drug of choice.
So what do I actually use it for? I…
- stay up to date with my family and friends
- share my experience as a mom
- connect with other women
- discover new products (much to Rob’s chagrin)
- laugh at and share funny memes
- mindlessly scroll
- feel jealous of other people
It’s not all bad but it has become clear that the bad is outweighing the good. So, I took a social media break for one day. No scrolling, no DMing, no peeking!
Well, it was much more challenging than expected. I discovered that I unconsciously scroll Instagram far more than I realized. I'd be sitting there, minding my own business and then suddenly, without warning…without even agreeing to it, the Instagram app was open! Did I do this? Did I open this app? What was happening? It was equal parts funny and frightening. I tallied about 6 spontaneous openings of the Instagram app in the first few hours of going cold turkey. Each time, I "caught" myself in the act and quickly shut it down. By the afternoon, I was doing much better and not opening the app at all but I definitely wanted to.
By the end of the day, I felt calmer than usual and more engaged with Mary Clare. On top of the things I needed to accomplish, I wrote a "just because" letter to my niece and nephew and knit a few rows of the baby blanket I’m working on. I felt so much more present and in my body. The day after my social media break, I felt like I was rushing less. I don't know if there's a connection there but I definitely felt the sense of unnecessary urgency decrease a bit. So clearly, I’m addicted but so glad I tried a day without. I will definitely be doing it again!
Steve Furtick said, "the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." I think this really gets at the core of this comparison struggle so many of us face. For the most part, people share the best of their lives, not the temper tantrums or the piled-up laundry. We sit on our couches comparing two entirely different realities and therein lies the problem. So, here’s the thing, social media is here to stay and I don’t want to quit 100%. I love connecting with other women and sharing in their experiences. I couldn’t live without seeing my nieces, nephew, all my friend’s and their cute kids. So, what's a girl to do?
I put together a few ideas for fostering a healthier relationship with social media.
Take a break: I highly recommend you try this. Decide your time frame and just go for it. Be sure to tell someone about it too so you can hold yourself accountable. It can be a whole day, a week, an hour. You get to decide but remember...it will all be there when you get back!
Get real: Think about how you share content on social media. Ask yourself, am I portraying a phony picture here? It's not your job to make other people feel good about your life but you can help your sisters out by being real with what you are going through. There is nothing people connect more to than someone else's vulnerability.
Curate your feed: Go through your feed and anyone that is not making you feel good about yourself, unfollow! There is one particular blogger that drives me crazy. She was completely tone deaf around body image and weight. It pissed me off. Then one day it dawned on me, I am choosing to consume her content. I am choosing to be pissed off. With a swift click, she was gone from my consciousness and I never looked back. Take some time to weed out those fakers!
Out yourself: As Eckhart Tolle says, "observe the thinker." The moment you notice yourself feeling badly because "her kids are so well behaved" or "she is so skinny." Text a friend and tell her about it or simply say it out loud, it'll take the power away from the thought.
So come on now, let's take control of our minds and stop letting social media control us! Think of a girlfriend that is as attached to her phone as I am - share this with her. We have to lift each other up and take care of our fellow mamas! Hopefully we can have few hours of mindless scrolling so we can have more moments like this one...