Comparing Ourselves to Others
Looking around, we see everyone at their best. Instagram and Facebook show us endless photos of everyone blissfully happy, looking fantastic, doing just the most suuuuper amazing things.
How often do you leave your house and run into someone openly having a moment of emotional distress? How many people open Snapchat, pick out some filter with flowers and rosy cheeks, and then take a snap of themselves puffy-eyed and runny-nosed sobbing on the floor in a fetal position while they lamented for the millionth time, "why am I like this, what is wrong with me, I hate hate hate how hard it is even get myself to make that phone call and now that is overdue and I am so tired of going through this, I am so tired of feeling like a failure and working so hard just to feel like things are still falling apart."
No, you haven't seen that on Snapchat have you? Me neither.
Most people on social media are posting about the good stuff in their life. When you catch up with someone at a holiday party, they share the best things in their life: a new job, relationship, travel, children, etc. That doesn't mean they're not struggling sometimes. That doesn't mean you're a failure because you do struggle or because you don't have the same accomplishments to report.
So how do look at your own life and your own difficulties and not feel awful? There are a lot of things we can keep in mind.
What you hear and see about other people isn't the whole story.
Sure, social media can be very fake, but people also have the right to decide what they do and don't feel like sharing. Not everyone wants to post about losing their job. Not everyone wants to talk about their panic disorder on Twitter. People might prefer to post about their highlights because that is more comfortable to them. That's okay. It is healthy to have boundaries. It is healthy to decide what you do and do not want to disclose to other people.
What to Remember:
- You don't have the whole story about other people - people don't post or share everything about their life and there might be a lot of difficulties behind the scenes that you don't see. Many people overcome so much to get where they are as well or might end up facing tremendous challenges later in life.
- We all have our own timeline - just because someone has accomplished something you haven't, it doesn't mean you won't ever get there and it doesn't mean you're behind in all ways. We accomplish our goals in our own time. The tortoise might end up passing the hare.
- Your story isn't finished yet - so many incredible, astoundingly accomplished people go through failures and struggle. Homelessness, terrible abuse, severe depression, attempts to end their life, medical crises and trauma. You might have no idea where your story is going or how you might get to something better, but the possibilities are absolutely endless even if you can't see them. You might look back on your life one day with a smile, marveling at how far you've come.
- Different people face different challenges - you having difficulty doesn't mean you're lazy, bad, broken, or a loser. If someone else lived through the same difficulties, trauma, loss, experiences or had the same genetic makeup and neurobiology as you, they might be facing the exact same challenges and mental health concerns as you (and a lot of people actually are!).
- You're not in this alone - there are thousands and thousands of people who face similar mental health concerns as you, even if you don't see them everywhere. It might be the people you never guessed.
- Help is available - If those seemingly "happy and successful" people have medical concerns, they go to a doctor. We don't judge anyone for that. If a person has mental health concerns, they go to a mental health professional. There's no reason to judge that either. Getting help can sometimes be the smartest step we take when starting to rewrite our story and reclaim our lives for real health, happiness, and fulfillment.