four simple ways to come out of comparison and into the present

comparison

I am glad social media did not exist when I was in high school. Can you imagine? It’s hard enough as a 30-something to navigate the inner work that goes along with maintaining social media platforms. I am sure that constantly comparing myself to others via my smartphone would have wrecked me as a teenager.

Since my first iPhone purchase in 2010 I have spent more time on social media every year. I love the internet and the incredible communities I have participated in since putting more effort into my online presence. It’s fun and rewarding. When I shared on social media that my Grandmother died earlier this month the outpouring of support was overwhelming. I love being able to share with a large group of people in an instant.

There are many days when I am grounded and clicking through Facebook and scrolling through Instagram is exciting. I see people living healthy, chasing dreams, taking risks, and I feel inspired and motivated.

When I’m not feeling good about myself social media is harsh. Before I know it I am lost in a sea of comparing myself to someone halfway around the world. Suddenly I am drowning in the murkey, gross waters of self-doubt and within minutes I am frantically searching for a new program I can study, another meditation retreat I can go on, or ten more books I can add to my reading list because I am not enough as I am.

I’m completely defeated. I am ready to switch careers. Give in. Pack up. Sell everything and move to India or in with my parents, hell it doesn’t even matter at this point. I start to question everything I have ever done, what I stand for, my relationships, my food choices, my business model, my yoga practice. I wonder if I’m even any good at what I do.

It’s insane.

Comparison is the thief of joy. For real.

Thankfully there is something I can do something about it. Staying in those dark places is a choice. I have the ability to change my behavior when it comes to getting swept away in social media self-doubt land.

If you have ever been in that place this post is for you.

 

Here are four simple ways to come out of comparison and into the present:

 

1. Pause. Once you catch yourself in the act of trying to measure up to another person, pause. Stop everything you are doing and bring your attention to the here and now. Look at your surroundings and see your feet on the floor. Start to name the items that are around you to pull your focus out of fantasy and into reality.

2. Take a deep breath. Hold. Exhale for as long as possible. When you’re in that frantic state trying to find something else to add to your resume, breathing tends to be very shallow. That type of breathing creates more anxiety. Taking several long exhales helps calm the nervous system. When you are calm it’s easier to bring yourself back to the present.

3. Write a gratitude list. There are few things that can turn comparison around as quickly as making a gratitude list. This simple yet effective practice puts the focus on what’s awesome in your life instead of what is missing. The more we practice gratitude the more excited we can get about what’s happening in our life, right here and right now.

4. Wish them well. A teacher once told me years ago that when I was jealous of someone I needed to pray for them. When you are filled with envy towards someone you don’t even know (or maybe someone you do) because their internet life seems way better than yours, wish them well. Open your heart as best you can in that moment and wish them a happy, full, healthy life. This seemingly small action has a vibratory effect that can be incredibly healing.

 

We never know what is going on for another person. We all want to put our best selves forward online and why wouldn’t we? It’s completely natural to want to look our shiniest and share all the cool things we are doing. The problem lies in forgetting these crucial pieces. The constant compare and despair eats away at our happiness.

Focus on the positive. Yes social media can be a drag but it’s all about our perspective. Can we rally and work towards strengthening our communities or are we more comfortable feeling bad about all that is lacking? It’s a choice I have to revisit often. No matter where you are try to:

Stay present. Breathe. Practice gratitude. Send a prayer.

 

I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this topic. I know it’s a big one for many people and it feels vulnerable to put it out there. Please weigh in when you have a moment.

Wishing you a lovely week.

xoa

 
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7 Comments

  1. Posted January 28, 2014 at 00:37 | Permalink

    I guess everyone experiences this situation sometimes. I have been there as well and it stopps me from being happy and going on with what I actually love. So I am saying to myself: focus. Just this single word is enough to go back to my intensions. You will never know what happens behind the screen in other peoples lifes. ;-) But your points are great, too.

  2. Posted January 28, 2014 at 08:06 | Permalink

    I completely agree with this in fact I took Facebook off my phone because I found myself checking it, now I check instagram instead bah! But checking FB just once a day has been helpful and I agree with all that you said especially pausing before grabbing my phone or computer to “check on things” now I sometimes just get up and make a cup of tea or go for a walk to figure out what feeling I am trying to push away. I love your post’s and thanks for sharing :)

  3. Posted January 28, 2014 at 10:48 | Permalink

    First of all, I LOVE that quote. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I may just have to put that above my desk.
    And what you say about social media is so true. I’m grateful for it and it has been a huge gift in my life, but it is also a burden and can be really hard to take at times. I go weeks without even checking FB. I can’t bring myself to start a Pinterest board. There isn’t enough time in the day to do it all and honestly I miss going out in nature, spacing out, wandering and not being online. I guess like you, I feel the good and the bad.
    I like your tips Ashley. You always provide a vulnerable and grounding perspective to everything you do.
    xoxo
    E

  4. ashley
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 19:42 | Permalink

    Thanks Erin! I love this quote too. I have it up on my wall. I totally agree with you. I have to take breaks from social media and I don’t update all my platforms everyday, it’s just way too much. One of my goals for this year is to spend more time in nature, I mean that is one of the reasons I moved out of Portland, so I didn’t have to be in all that rain stuck inside ;)
    Wishing you well and omg, so so so excited for your book! I just placed my order. You are one of my biggest inspirations and I cannot wait to get a copy in my hands. xoa

  5. ashley
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 19:44 | Permalink

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share. I took FB off my phone too! And then I put it back on a few months later. LOL! Progress not perfection, right?! Yes, exactly, figure out what feeling you are trying to push away. That is such a great point and really at the heart of all of this. Thank you for that reminder. xoa

  6. ashley
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 19:46 | Permalink

    You’re right, many of us do at one time or another. It’s very common which is why I wanted to address it here. Your word focus is perfect, I love that. It is enough to say that and realign with the present ;) I really appreciate your comments, they are always so thoughtful. xoa

  7. Meg
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 07:57 | Permalink

    My hang up tends to be online presence, comparisons in general, extending past social media. I find myself slip into that place of “What do I have to offer that is MORE than so-and-so locally/online offers? How do I establish MORE buy-in with constituents and clients? What credential am I needing now?”…coming from that place of lack instead of abundance. It is an easy place to slide into!
    So far in this year I have been modifying relationships overall, paying attention to what feels right and really listening to my own rhythms. Has helped tremendously in forming big and bigger visions and eliminating what no longer fits, forms, or serves my mission. Knowing what fills my heart reminds me how trivial and fear-based comparisons are, and how they are present to get me to that next place of growth. (Easier said than done, at times!)
    Love your mindfulness practice – the pause such a moment of grace & giving to one’s self.

    In coaching and facilitation with women, I hear ‘Am I enough?’ or ‘When will I know I am enough?’ so often. This is in both professional and executive level coaching, sometimes with COOs and CEOs and all “levels” of leadership. This too is most often linked to comparisons – there are just so many pressures to achieve and be on top. I am learning so much from these clients. And from you, Ashley! Thank you ~ great post!

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