Sophie Lynn-Evans, Psychologist, Baulkham Hills NSW
24 April 2018
Do you find yourself regularly scrolling Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest looking at other people’s lives and achievements?
Do you find yourself thinking “why don’t I have that?”, “it’s so unfair” or (the very common) “I’ll be happy once I have (insert wish here)”?
Well you’re not the only one. The growth of social media combined with 24/7 internet connection means that we have constant opportunity to compare ourselves and our lives not only to those around us, but even to complete strangers!
With each glamourous post, we feel the pinch of social pressure to achieve it all: the beautiful house; the perfect partner; the great job; to eat healthy; look great – the list goes on and on. The more time we spend scrolling, the greater the pressure we place on ourselves to “achieve more” or “be successful” in all areas of life.
so what’s wrong with comparison?
Comparison is a normal human experience. As social beings, we are wired to compare ourselves to others, helping us to keep connected socially in order to survive.
In fact, comparing ourselves to others in small doses can be healthy. For example, helping us to develop specific goals to strive toward, or demonstrating to us what we truly value in our lives. However, comparisons become unhelpful when we start to feel disadvantaged, our self-esteem gets hit or our capacity to feel satisfied with our own lives is reduced.
It is also important to realise that social media platforms (where much of the comparing occurs) tends to present a distorted image of ‘positivity’. That is, people tend to present all of the great things that are happening in their lives and exclude their personal struggles and difficulties. However, we often forget to consider this, and find ourselves less satisfied with our own lives and more focussed on what we are missing out on
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is the experience of appreciation towards someone or something that we have in our lives that brings value, meaning, joy or positivity. Basically, it is the acknowledgement of the good things that we do have, which are often easy to forget or minimise when we remain focussed on others and their “better” lives.
how can practicing gratitude help?
Gratitude helps us to improve our awareness of the positive aspects of our lives. It helps us to focus our attention back toward ourselves and reconnect with our experiences, rather than focussing on others.
Gratituse allows us to slow down and be more present in our lives rather than getting lost in worries about the future or concerns about the past. It helps us to view our lives from a more balanced perspective, allowing us to feel more satisfied and happy with what we do have.
3 tips for practicing gratitude
1. List the small stuff
You don’t have to start writing love songs of devotion or appreciation speeches for friends and family (unless you feel compelled to). Just start by listing 3 things you are thankful for at the end of the day. Write them down or simply say them in your mind. These can be small, everyday things such as a warm coffee in the morning, having clean water to drink, or kind words from a friend.
2. Focus on all areas of your life
Try to broaden your perspective to many different areas of your life that you can appreciate, rather than just focussing on one or two (e.g. friends, family, home, work, relationships, food, finance, sleep, exercise, the environment, pets, animals, etc.)
3. Practice gratitude the same time everyday
It is helpful to pick a regular time that works best for you to practice gratitude listing. Practicing gratitude the same time everyday will help make it a habit over time, so that it becomes easier to practice everyday. A quiet space with minimal stimulation works best (e.g. in bed before sleep).
If you think that you, or someone you know, is regularly comparing themselves to others and may benefit from support, please contact The Talbot Centre for more information on how we can help.
Sophie is a warm and creative psychologist who is passionate about collaborating with her clients to develop their strengths and skills in order to achieve meaningful changes in their lives. Her naturally compassionate and non-judgemental clinical style allows clients to feel genuinely supported, and her flexible approach to therapy assists in achieving outcomes with clients that are consistent with their personal values and goals.