The awesome thing about social media is that it’s super easy to see what all your high school friends, exes and former coworkers are up to. The not-so-awesome thing is that it’s also super easy to make yourself feel like shit by comparing yourself to them!
This is because comparative thinking is very powerful. Our brains are hardwired to compare ourselves to others, and for whatever reason it tends to take those comparisons in a negative direction that creates cycles of self-defeating thinking and behavior.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can train yourself to think the right way (where “right” is the way that will make you happier and more successful), you can turn comparative thinking into a positive force that will help inspire and motivate you.
I know this might sound corny/Tony Robbins/Oprah, but trust me– this shit is SUPER important! It’s especially important to those of us who tend toward negative thinking, as people from the “angry music” scene usually do. Negative thinking will poison your life and you need to wage a daily war on it!
It doesn’t help that there is a whole segment of people like this turd who devote literally their entire existence into creating a social media presence designed to make you feel shitty and envious
DON’T: COMPARE THE UNEDITED VERSION OF YOUR LIFE TO THE HIGHLIGHT REEL OF SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE
It’s way too easy to convince yourself that everybody else has the perfect life, that yours sucks by comparison, and that it’s all your fault and you’ve fucked everything up and you’re doomed to die poor and alone while everybody else lives happily ever after.
We all do this: scrolling through your Facebook/IG feed and seeing all the people you went to school with getting engaged, going on vacations, etc while you can barely get a guy/girl to text you back and your idea of a vacation is letting yourself get dessert once in a while when you go out to eat. You just want to crawl under a fucking rock and hide because you feel like a poor, ugly, fat loser (or at least I do!).
We’ve all been there, and there’s nothing that takes the wind out of your sails quite like the feeling that you’re in last place in the race of life.
But don’t let yourself fall into this mental trap! It’s a poisonous self-delusion, and you need to train yourself how to see through the illusion.
First of all, keep this in mind: beneath the surface of any seemingly perfect life are lots of shitty things that you’re not seeing— probably all the same crap you deal with.
What people put on social media is not the whole picture. Nobody has the perfect life, but they’re only going to show you the shiny pretty parts on IG because who wants to share the ugly parts with the world??[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ6b5PO-NvY&width=640&height=480[/embedyt]
As an extreme example, take Steve-O. People on TV saw the fun times and parties (the highlight reel), but behind the scenes there was a lot of dark shit
You see a picture of someone on stage playing to a huge crowd of people, or getting engaged to a beautiful girl/guy or congratulating themselves on a promotion… but what’s behind the scenes that you AREN’T seeing? They could be getting audited by the IRS, fighting a drinking problem, going through a health crisis, or dealing with any number of other shitty things that are way worse than what you’re going through!
Let me be clear: the goal here is not to be a hater and cut down other people or to make yourself feel better by gloating in other peoples’ pain/shortcomings. The point is simply to remind yourself that there is more than what you see in someone’s Instagram posts, and that all of us have problems.
And it’s entirely likely that the person on the other side is envious of YOU! They could be looking at YOUR feed and going “I have this fancy new car, but so fucking what?? I hate my life, all I do is work! I’d give it all up in a heartbeat for a happy relationship like [your name here] has.”
By comparing the not-so-great parts of your life (student loans, those 10 lbs you want to lose) to the highlights of other people’s lives (their beach body or new car), you’re making a completely unfair comparison that will only make you feel shitty.
And even worse, it can give you an inferiority complex that will really hold you back. If you feel like a loser, then you’ll ACT like a loser and self-sabotage— I felt like a loser for years and wouldn’t even apply for certain jobs because I had convinced myself I would never get it because they’d never hire a loser like me (cue Social Distortion “Story Of My Life”). So dumb, right?? But this is what happens when you let yourself succumb to distorted thinking!
Here’s how to fight your way out of this trap:
- First and foremost, if it’s bumming you out to compare yourself to others, STOP! Get up, go outside, talk to your mom, whatever… just stop thinking about it.
- Re-focus on YOU and YOUR OWN goals. What someone else did or didn’t do is beyond your control. What matters is what you can control, which are the choices that YOU are making about YOUR life, TODAY!
- Listen to your favorite Terror or Hatebreed song on repeat until you’re ready to crush the world!
DO: COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS WHEN IT WILL INSPIRE TO YOU TO PERSEVERE, GRIND HARDER AND EXCEL
But comparative thinking isn’t always bad. In fact, it’s actually one of the single most important things you can do— you just need to train your brain to do it in the RIGHT way.
I’m fortunate enough to know successful people in fields as varied as music production, investment banking, and cybersecurity. And the one common thread between all of them is HIGH STANDARDS. Losers say “I’m OK the way I am.” Winners say, “I could be better.”
Which is why it’s critically important that you compare yourself to the best in your field. You need to be honest with yourself in terms of how you stack up against them. Use them as your measuring stick. So if you want to be a photographer, compare your work to the people in the magazines you want to be in, because eventually you’ll be competing with them for clients.
If your work isn’t as good as their yet, that’s ok— instead of getting bummed about it, you use it as fuel to get back to work, to push yourself to put in one more rep and get one step closer to your goals.
I always ask myself, am I grinding as hard as my heroes did? How did they overcome tough circumstances and achieve things that people told them were impossible? I can tell you this much— they didn’t cry about it or sit around feeling sorry for themselves when things got tough. They sucked it up and got back to work!
I don’t know about you, but when I think about things that way, laziness or complacency is just not an option— I can’t let myself give it anything less than 100% when I know that someone I respect and admire would push through it.
The key here is to train your mind into using comparative thinking to drive positive actions rather than negative ones!
- Comparative thinking is super powerful, but you need to channel it’s power toward positive action
- Don’t compare the unedited version of your life to the highlights of someone else’s
- Remind yourself that nobody’s life is perfect
- Focus on what you can control: YOUR goals and YOUR choices in YOUR life