I have to be honest, I can fall into the trap of comparing my life to others quite often. Social media and the little snippets of contrived goodness we see of others’ lives only makes it that much easier to think that others have it great, especially if we ourselves are struggling.
I remember when I was in the midst of panic disorder and completely nonfunctional, I would see other people doing simple things that I couldn’t do, like going out with friends or holding a steady job, and I would subsequently feel awful about myself. I would wonder why others had it so easy and I was barely making it through the day. I would get jealous and angry.
And now, even though my life is wonderful and I’m so grateful to be where I am, I still find myself comparing it to what I THINK others’ lives look like (because I don’t actually know what the real versions of their lives are like).
It’s so easy for me to see pictures or little videos and think, “wow, they have the perfect relationship,” or “gosh, they are so damn successful and must be so happy,” or “they don’t deal with mental health, their life must be so easy.” Or whatever it may be.
The truth is, I don’t know the whole story. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and while I don’t wish for anyone to struggle, there’s a kind of relief that comes from knowing that we all have this shared human experience of moving through difficulty.
No one’s life is perfect. And I’ve realized time and time again that we’re all on our own paths, learning our own lessons.
If someone doesn’t struggle with mental health, they might have an abusive boss at work or a close relative that’s ill or trouble sleeping. And sometimes, we’ll have periods where life is great and working wonderfully and there will be other times when it’s not working so well. So to compare our lives to another’s, when we’re on two completely different paths is incredibly damaging and untrue.
If you’ve ever seen my life on social media and thought it was perfect, of course it’s not. I still struggle with anxiety, though I am so grateful to have my life back from the depths of panic. Yes, I have a really beautiful relationship but of course he annoys me sometimes. Sometimes I get nervous about marriage because I want a 100% guarantee that it will work out and I can’t have one, so when I get wrapped up in my own worries, it makes me question whether this is the right decision. Yes, I’m so happy to be able to teach yoga and run this online business, but I lost two of my public classes recently and I’ve been feeling useless and unsuccessful, wishing that I made more money or had a conventionally praiseworthy job.
I share this not to complain but to demonstrate that we all have things going on behind how we present ourselves to others. I try to be as authentic as I can on social media and this blog, but it seems challenging to share it all.
So how do we stop comparing ourselves to others?
-Notice when you’re doing it and compassionately catch yourself. As you scroll through instagram or as you’re interacting face-to-face with someone, notice if you start to compare yourself or think that their life is perfect.
-Gently remind yourself that no one’s life is perfect, everyone struggles and you’re on two different paths.
-Bring your attention back to your own heart. Where you are right now is okay. It doesn’t help to look at what anyone else is doing. How can you be a better version of YOURSELF for yourself?
-Drop into gratitude. What is going right in your life? What is so, so good? What do you have that maybe others don’t and that others would wish for?
These are things I’ve been practicing. The more I take care of myself and love myself, the easier it becomes to stop wishing for things to be different and start appreciating all that’s already good. There is so, so, so much that is already RIGHT, so much that is going well. And then I can be the biggest cheerleader for those around me living their best lives.
Today, without thinking about anyone else, write down at least ten things that are wonderful in your life. They can be small. Just write and then revel in how much you have to be grateful for.
Feel free to share with me in the comments below something you’ve been comparing yourself to others about and how you can find gratitude in what you already have 🙂