How to stop comparing yourself to other people on social media, according to a psychologist

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The saying ‘the grass is always greener’ could not be more fitting for the glossy world of social media.

With people often choosing to share nothing but their personal highlights online, excluding the lows and more mundane experiences, it’s natural that endless scrolling can sometimes leave you feeling that your own life is wanting.

But is it healthy to compare ourselves to what we see on Instagram? In a word, no. 

This Morning’s resident psychologist Emma Kenny, of Manchester, points out that even the most social media savvy among us can still find themselves perturbed by the ‘perfection’ so often projected online.

She told FEMAIL: ‘The biggest problem with comparing your life with the ones you see in the cyber world is down to a very simple fact: you don’t actually have the information required to assess the reality of your comparison. 

‘You can only know if their life really is better than yours if you have all the pieces of the jigsaw, and simply put, you don’t and never will have. Moreover, the more you want to believe that other people are having a way better time than you, then the more you will choose to believe it and your personal bias will simply buy into this perspective.’

Here Emma reveals how to equip yourselves with the skills to navigate the social media minefield and resist succumbing to that anxiety that your life doesn’t match up. 

Sometimes you can get so caught up worrying about what you should look like or would like to own that you fail to see what is right in front of your eyes. 

Sit down and write a list of all the great things in your life. This can be something as simple as noting the comfy bed you sleep in every night, or the way your dog loves you just the way you are. 

By focusing on lots of seemingly small yet very special elements that makes your life the way it is, you start thinking and feeling more positive, and learn to celebrate what really matters.

The worth of any activity involves weighing up what you receive in return. If you use social-media to set goals and work towards them, then it has value. 

Some comparisons can be helpful, such as seeing a colleague go on a training course and consequently get a promotion – something that you too can emulate and achieve.

If you are working on getting fit and you spend time looking at pictures, blogs, and videos of those influencers or friends that inspire you, then chances are it’s motivating and reminds you of the positives of staying on the right path. 

If, however, you find yourself feeling negative towards your own body and mindset because these social scrolls remind you of what you haven’t achieved, you will sabotage self-change and end up feeling resentful and demotivated.

Every time you sit and covet someone else’s life, you are literally throwing precious minutes of your own life away. 

While you may struggle to fully understand that in the here and now, try fast-forwarding to taking your last breaths here on Earth and ask yourself whether all those hours checking out other people’s stuff you could never afford, or wishing you could fit into that Insta-famous influencer’s on-trend bikini was really worth it? 

Happy people relish and celebrate what they actually have, meaning that they get the most out of their relationships and their day-to-day achievements. So, stop scrolling and start living, because time is very precious and an ever decreasing commodity.

You are a complete one-off, and this is why instead of comparing yourself to other people, it is a far more rewarding task to spend time concentrating on the innate gifts, skills and traits that you are lucky enough to have. 

Once you figure out what makes you stand out, you will grow in confidence and cultivate the skills that come easy to you. 

So instead of trying to emulate others, allow your unique individuality to shine through. 

Social media is full of idealised images and mythically filtered lives, and that means you never dig deep enough to see the reality of what lies beneath the glossy images.

Comparing yourself with a surface analysis means you don’t actually have all the data required to make a definitive judgement, so the comparison is a useless one to make in the first place. 

Think about all the glossy photos of celebrity couples that you have seen, just before you hear their divorce rumours. The camera lies! 

Social-media may show you a plethora of images and content that make you feel the green-eyed monster, but they are only a tiny piece of the jigsaw puzzle. 

When you see Beyoncé strutting her stuff, you rarely think about the blood, sweat and tears that have got her into that skimpy outfit, or the weeks she has dedicated to creating her highly choreographed dance show. 

Hard work, dedication and perseverance are the foundation of most enviable situations that you see in the online world, and you are capable of this type of commitment if you set your mind to it.

 

The problem with comparisons is that if you look hard enough, you are likely to find someone who has managed to do something similar to you, but better, bigger, or whilst surrounded by more attractive and fashionable friends. 

The problem is, if you set out to undermine your own success, then chances are you will do so. 

Feeling satisfied with yourself is accepting that you, and your life, is good enough, even if it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that others may appear to have.

Switching off from your cyber life and taking a digital detox means that you can completely unwind from the online world. 

This will make you feel more relaxed and also help you to better analyse the way living online is affecting your mental health. 

Commit to a day every week where you turn off your phone and allow yourself the peace, tranquility and connection to the here and now.

While you may feel you are nowhere near as amazing as the people that you follow on social media, you have the power to be a super-hero in your own right. 

Volunteering with the homeless, helping with a children’s charity or being kind to your elderly neighbours means you use your time to literally change and save lives. 

By using your abilities with purpose, you will find that the comparisons that you used to beat yourself up over no longer have any power over you at all. 

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