5 Tips to Avoid the Social Comparison Trap – Ingrid Corrales, AMFT

Ingrid Corrales, Therapist in Fullerton, CA

It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. We do this at work, in our friendship circles, with family members, in our intimate relationships, and with social media. Comparison in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate or inspire us to make positive changes, but it can also create a feeling of dissatisfaction or inflate feelings of inadequacy. The problem is we often don’t recognize it for what it is and instead think that there is ultimately something wrong with us.

Woman scrolling on her phone
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

If you notice that you are constantly comparing yourself to others, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Here are 5 tips to avoid getting sucked into the social comparison trap:

  1. AVOID/LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA TIME. We all know that too much social media is not productive, yet it is so easy (and purposely designed that way) to spend hours scrolling aimlessly, looking at others’ seemingly perfect lives. This can leave us feeling discontent that we don’t look as amazing, that we don’t have such a perfect relationship, that we don’t have an Instagram-worthy home. Try to be more intentional with your time, set a limit as to how long you want to spend on social media, and hold yourself accountable to this. Alternatively, take a complete social media break and pay attention to how this changes how you feel about yourself.
  2. UNFOLLOW SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS THAT LEAVE YOU FEELING DISCONTENT OR LESS-THAN. Become more mindful in the information that you allow yourself to be exposed to. What this means in real terms is: pay attention to how you respond both emotionally and physically to certain accounts. Do they leave you feeling inspired and uplifted? Or do they leave you feeling unhappy, anxious, or even tense and on edge? If you answered “yes” to the latter, it may be time to cull a few and be more selective in who you follow.
  3. WRITE DOWN A LIST OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. Keep a record of your daily achievements no matter how small. It could be that you responded to an email that you had been putting off or that you got the promotion that you had been working towards. It doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small but what does matter is that you notice it and write it down. This way, when you are overcome with thoughts that you are achieving nothing (especially in comparison to others), you can look back and remind yourself of all the things you have done.
  4. REFLECT AND RECONNECT. This one takes some effort but it is important as it helps you to connect with what your own personal goals are. Not your best friend’s, not your co-worker’s, but yours. We are all individuals with individual hopes and dreams but can easily get sidetracked by what we think we should be doing or by what others are doing. Start by setting aside an hour or two where you can do the hard work of thinking. Think about what is truly important to you. Think about what drives and motivates you. Reconnect with yourself. Then with this knowledge in mind, think about what your personal goals are for the next month, six months, and one year.  Write these down and try to make them as specific as possible. Break them up into smaller pieces if you need to. This is your own personal road map to success that you can continually refer back to when you begin to feel lost or swept up by “where you should be”.
  5. REMIND YOURSELF THAT LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A RACE. You are your own special person and your worth is not dictated by the accomplishments, appearance, or possessions of others. I know this one is easier said than done but it really is true! Don’t miss out on the enjoyment of now because you are always comparing yourself against others. Remind yourself that you are on your own path that may look different to others and that’s okay. Practice being more present and aware of your everyday accomplishments and individual growth. Make sure you celebrate your own personal wins and take time to enjoy the process!
Comparison in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate or inspire us to make positive changes, but it can also create a feeling of dissatisfaction or inflate feelings of inadequacy.

Ingrid Corrales, AMFT is a trauma-informed and maternal mental health specialist. She desires to support individuals, new moms and parents, and couples who are struggling with complex trauma, anxiety, depression, are at different stages of pregnancy and postpartum, and in relationships. You can check out her previous blog post on Maternal Mental Health Matters or learn more about her HERE!

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