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Breaking free of comparison culture

Ever found yourself on Instagram or Facebook, comparing yourself or your life to those you scroll past?

Longing for what they have, or being critical of yourself for not being where they are?

Or maybe you‘ve compared your life against society’s rules and felt upset or disappointment that you didn’t sit on that timeline?

If you’ve said yes to any of the above questions, I can guarantee you are NOT alone in your thinking.

I’ve had so many conversations with those around me who have felt discontent with where they are in comparison to others. In fact, most people will have experienced being in a place of comparison no matter how long or short they remained there. For those that haven’t, I want to applaud you as you have reached a place where you feel secure in how your life looks, despite what others think. This is a place I try to reach more often and when I struggle, I consciously refer back to these 5 reminders which help me to stay grounded in my authenticity.

Five reminders to help you stay grounded

1) Social media is a highlight reel

You’ve probably heard this many times but it’s true; it’s not a true depiction of someone’s life and is only a tiny fragment of their life. I use Instagram as a photograph blog of all the things I’ve loved and enjoyed. It should not be taken at complete face value.

2) Society’s timeline is MADE UP!

There is a societal and cultural expectation that once you have passed a certain age, such as 16, people start to expect more from you. This is a pressure that we don’t have to accept nor put on ourselves. You don’t need to go to university at 18, or be in your dream job by 25, or have a partner by 27, and you certainly don’t need to have your whole life figured out by 30. I don’t know who came up with these rules; but one thing I do know, is that they don’t have to be followed.

3) We are all completely unique

How boring would it be, if all of our lives followed the same linear path! I love having friends who are Mums, others who are in their 30’s and travelling and some who are focusing on building a career. The whole point is that our lives are authentic to us, which means all of our journey’s will look different.

4) Comparison can be a bit of an illusion.

I might compare my wonderful life with *Bobby, who compares his great life to *Sarah, who compares her fabulous life *Joe’s who compares his to mine! Meanwhile we are all comparing our lives with one another and missing out on all the fabulous things that are happening for us. It’s a dangerous cycle and trap, that you don’t want to fall into.

5) Reflection

When you catch yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself, what is it that you truly want out of life, compared to where you ‘think’ you ‘should’ be by now. See what that looks like for you and if that aligns with your values in the present day.

Aside from the reminders, here are some practical steps you can implement to help you along your journey:

Four practical tips to help you break free from comparison

  • Limit your time on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms if you feel it is affecting your mental health. Maybe limit yourself to 10 minutes a day or unfollow accounts you are struggling with, and replace them with positive hashtags or encouraging pages.

  • Write a list with the heading ‘My authentic life’ and write down all the things YOU want from life, as a reminder as to what is important to you. My previous list was marriage, house, children and successful career… in that order. My list now is forever growing and changing: travel, writing, poetry, house, career, events and new experiences. The difference now is that it’s more fluid and it’s not tied to an age range.

  • Have open conversations with friends and family about and be honest with your thoughts, because addressing those issues can be a big weight off your shoulders, helping you gain a new sense of freedom.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Everyday write three things that you are thankful for as this is a way to check-in and remind yourself of the good things in your life. Practising gratitude is scientifically proven to help improve mood and wellbeing!

I hope this has helped and acts as a visual reminder that where you are and who you are right now is enough.

J.cole sums it up best, ‘There’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours, no such thing… no such thing.’ (Taken from Love yours by J.Cole)

Written by Alice Spencer

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