You’ve heard it said before, “Comparison is the thief of joy” , “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” and on and on. We hear these phrases so much but do we really take them to heart? Today I want to unpack why it’s so important that we stop the comparison game. I will confess that this blog definitely comes from my past life of studying Mass communications (I went to school to become a professor actually!)… I have a passion for the way that the media affects us and I feel that it’s important for our well being to understand those effects!
Instagram: Everyone’s Highlight Reel
Spend anytime on Instagram and I can guarantee that you will start to feel a certain kind of way… and here are a few emotions I feel when I spend too much time scrolling through my feed: Jealousy, anger, stress, self-pity, self-conscience and hopeless. This is a REAL thing that happens to people everyday. There have been studies done on social media on how it affects our well being, making us feel depressed, anxious and alone. Social media can have its negative effects.
But then there is the other side of social media…Yes, there are times when I jump on Instagram and I feel inspired, joyful, uplifted and encouraged but to be totally candid… that is probably only about 40% of the time, the other 60% is dedicated to those not so positive emotions. Many of us use Instagram as a tool for our business, meaning that we can’t exactly escape it. So how do we change the way we interact with this social media platform to create a more positive experience?
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Gosh, this is so much easier said than done. It’s almost as if this app is literally asking us to compare ourselves with the way it is set up. For me, as a calligrapher and artist, I find myself scrolling through my feed and getting upset with myself for all the things I’m not doing… or upset with my self for not being as “successful” (I put that in quotations because this is completely subjective) as other vendors in my industry. Here are a few steps I have taken to create a more positive Instagram experience and I suggest applying them if you feel like me:
It sounds harsh, but if you are constantly feeling inferior because of the people you follow, then maybe you shouldn’t be following them. If you feel too guilty unfollowing them, then just MUTE them… I love that instagram came up with the non-savage way to remove people from your feed. Truly, it is nothing against them, it’s just unhealthy for you to follow them at this point.
Stop When You Start
As soon as those feelings start to pop up and you find yourself comparing, switch to something else. Go outside, get some sun… or start working on that project you’ve been putting off. There is nothing positive about wallowing in those emotions.
Reduce Your Screen Time
The iPhone allows you to set limits on certain apps. I have a 30 minute limit on my social media apps for the day (granted I’m pretty bad at sticking to this but it has been improving). Only allow yourself so much time on Instagram.
Write A List
Something I have started to do when I feel those “less than” feelings creep in is I make a list of 3 things that I am proud of that I have accomplished. Being published in a magazine was a big goal I set for myself, but guess how long that joy lasted once I logged onto Instagram? Not very long at all… Instead of being happy that I accomplished one of my goals, I could only see what other people were doing and feeling like I should be doing those things! UGH, the struggle is real! Do yourself a favor and write down 3 things that you have accomplished recently and be PROUD of yourself!
Realizing that Scrolling Through Instagram Won’t Make You Money
A cold hard fact… but one I needed to hear. Yes, Instagram can be a great tool for marketing your business when you post, create stories and interact with your community. However, if you find yourself opening the app every 20 minutes and scrolling… that isn’t really productive is it? Use Instagram in a way that benefits you and your business… not as an obsession that controls you rather than it.
Our Perception Vs. Reality
It can feel like we know so much about a person and their business from their Instagram account. But in reality, we have no idea! I met a florist recently who books 85 weddings a year and she has 800 followers (you know how people equate followers with success).. I met an “influencer” who has 100K followers and is making less money than when I worked at a Surf Shop when I was 16. I met another woman who is an event planner who posts every day about the events she is part of who confessed to me that she doesn’t know how she is going to make her business work financially and that she isn’t as busy as she seems on social media. Do you guys get it? There are lots of smoke and mirrors on Instagram. That is why it is so important for us to stop comparing ourselves to what we see on social media because a lot of times it’s not what we believe it to be.
My Best Advice
Put your head down and focus on your business (and if you aren’t a business owner, still put your head down and focus on your life :)). If I didn’t do this I would never get anything done. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. If you see someone doing something you want to do, get inspired not jealous! Anyone who says they aren’t affected by Instagram and the comparison game are liars (or maybe they have just gotten past it all!) Be easy on yourself, forgive yourself for feeling this way (it happens to use all) and move on. You’ve got the power, I know you do! Get excited about your work again and everything will fall into place!