Fallen into the Instagram comparison trap? Niamh Ennis shares her remedy for a bad dose of comparisonitis
Recently I came down with a bad dose of ‘comparisonitis’. Oh god, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst neighbour. It was awful. I couldn’t do a thing for days. I felt so weak.
To make things worse, I know exactly where I got it from. My contact tracing system was very accurate. I knew it had started when I had been on Instagram (a lot), I had been following some successful women who were in my line of work and I was watching all their great strides forward and closely monitoring their achievements.
I was following their every move. I thought it would inspire me. I thought if I saw what they were doing it would give me ideas of how I could replicate their moves and hopefully, by default, replicate their success.
But boy, was I wrong. It had the total opposite effect. It crept on me, this dose. I came off Instagram a few times not feeling the best, a little shaky. A little out of sorts. The more time I spent on social media it actually just seemed to get worse.
Now, dear reader, before you think I’m sounding like a hypochondriac, let me assure you this was no small dose. Oh lord no, this knocked me flat out! I was literally on my back for quite a few days unable to move. Paralysed!
It didn’t help that I couldn’t get a diagnosis for a good while, which was unfortunate, as I kept returning to the scene of the crime where I had originally contracted this horrendous illness, unknowingly.
Okay, I’ll admit there were tears. A disproportionate amount of tears. Quite the deluge if I’m being really honest. Not to mention wails of ‘I can’t do it, I’ll never be as good as them, I’ll get found out, I’m too old, I don’t have a following of millions, I’ve left it too late, everyone knows more than me, what do I know about change and transformation?’’ Oh yes, I wailed loud and hard!
When I finally managed to pull myself together, I spent a lot of time in search of a remedy, some medicine, something that would cure me of this severe case of comparisonitis (I’m not sure there is a mild version!).
I wasted a good amount of time asking those around me what could I take and their bemused looks did nothing to relieve the pain.
Now in case you’re already dismissing my illness, let me tell you that there is a folk dictionary definition on comparisonitis… and it is this:
Comparisonitis: Noun. The compulsion to compare one's accomplishments to another's to determine relative importance.
Let’s face it, it has always existed but has definitely been made worse since the introduction of social media into our daily lives. But what’s the cure?
Eventually, I tried these three things which helped… I relapse from time to time but honestly, my immune system is so much stronger and when I feel a dose coming on I remind myself of the following:
1. Unless someone inspires you to do better, to think differently and unless following them actually makes you feel better about yourself and what you do – unless it does all or some of these things then do yourself a favour and unfollow them. We have all done it. We have followed people who trigger us and then find ourselves each time feeling deflated or annoyed with ourselves. So don’t put yourself through it. Mute or unfollow. Right now!
2. It’s an overused cliché to say that when we compare our lives with those on social media we are not comparing like with like, but it’s true. What we are looking at are their carefully curated highlights. When we put their successes up against ours we don’t factor in that they may have tried and failed before, they may have had extensive help along the way, they may have had to make incredibly sacrifices to get what they have. We aren’t in possession of these answers and yet we compare what might be the beginning of our story with their middle chapter. Remember that next time.
3. When we are looking at the success of others we aren’t always aware of what their big vision might be or even what their own personal values might be. The truth is we don’t need to know this. We just need to know our own and to fully connect with these.
So think on this question… what is your vision?
Who do you want to become?
Think about your WHY.
Why are you doing this, what do you want to get from this, what do you want to achieve?
In thinking about your personal values, consider what matters to you.
What really matters to you?
What will make you feel happier?
Don’t just say ‘I want to be rich’. Think about just what having more money will make you feel like.
For example, I want to feel safe and secure. I want to feel calm and know that I can pay my bills and not have to worry myself sick each month.
Your vision, your values, your reasons for doing what you do are totally different from everyone else. Don’t try and make the results the same!
Finally, become the best observer of your own thoughts. Don’t create ‘stories’ around how your life compares to others. Those stories will simply become a breeding ground for your fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs.
Keep returning to WHY you are doing what you’re doing, why it matters to you, and measure your success on that. When you find yourself slipping back into old habits just catch yourself, stop yourself and connect with that part of you that feels entirely you. There you will find the difference.
Oh, and of course, get well soon!
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation specialist and founder of the RESET for Change 3-month 1:1 private coaching programme.
Niamh works with women who simply feel stuck, who want to commit to doing things differently and connects them with the person they were put here to be.
Feature image: Pexels
Read more: Niamh Ennis: How to make a difficult decision
Read more: Niamh Ennis: Is the fear of seeming selfish holding you back?
Read more: 8 powerful questions that will help you find your purpose