Getting off the comparison carousel

I’ve been thinking about writing a post on this topic for awhile but I’ve held off, waiting for the right words to come. I want to write words that are sensitive and positive and uplifting. But, when you’re me, you take what you can get. And here it is coming up on Thanksgiving, so I thought “Oh, what the hey. Let’s just get this one on out there.”comparisonI hear so much about what a detriment social media can be because of people comparing their lives to others. You see the best parts of other people’s lives and it can make you depressed about your own life. I have friends who just get MAD when someone posts all the things they’ve accomplished that day, or how much they love their spouse or a picture of their new car. Or, maybe you get aggravated because you know that Instagram picture was so staged and that they cleaned their kitchen and lit candles and wiped the kids faces right before they took it. 

EVERYONE. IT IS OK.

Listen, when you go over to a friend’s house (pretend this is before the internet was invented by Al Gore) and they get out a scrapbook, are you going to see pictures of their divorce proceedings or cat vomit on the floor or an overdrawn bank account? No. Unless that friend is very quirky. People just want to document and remember the good times. And sometimes it’s fun to stage a photo in a creative, artsy way.

Try not to take it personally.

But in case you can’t help it, let’s think about a few different reasons why someone would make the following post:

Just got done running 73 miles, now to fix a souffle for my boys before I drop them off at private school in my new Porsche. Then, heading out to build some solar-powered houses for the local homeless before my photo shoot. Busy day! #blessed #lovemyfamily

1. They are a highly energetic, motivated person and they really did all those things and they want a pat on the back. I would too if I did all that. But don’t worry, I will never do all that.

2. They do not have the good sense to know what is annoying or perceived as bragging by other people. Sometimes people are really conceited and prone to bragging without even knowing they are. Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe their mom didn’t teach them how to be humble. 

3. Some people, like moi, feel the urge to share everything that crosses their minds. Maybe their whole purpose for posting it is just to share. Maybe it never occurs to them how many people will “like” it. They just want to tell the world! I don’t know why.

4. They are out to make someone else feel bad. If you think this is their motive, then you might want to reconsider keeping them on your friends list.

5. They are insecure and think that they must earn other people’s love, admiration and/or respect by being really impressive. They just need a hug. And a friend who loves them even when they are annoying. Don’t we all?

Or, maybe it’s none of those. I don’t want to read too much into what people say beyond what they actually said.

Okay, so maybe you don’t exactly get mad at the person, you just feel a little jealous that they have a life that seems a lot better than yours. And that makes you depressed. What can you do? I have some thoughts.

1. Consider what it is about their life that you wish you had. Is there a way for you to make that happen in your own life?

2. Remember that people aren’t going to post all the painful or shameful aspects of their lives. Nor should they. There are things that people need to keep private and so what you get is not going to be the full picture. I have this pretty friend who is very slender and every time I see her I stare in envy of her tiny little body. Then, the other day, she said she has a hyperthyroid and has to take medicine to keep from stroking out and that’s why she stays so slim. So. She shouldn’t have to tell the world about that but it certainly made me reconsider whether I would want to swap places with her or not.

3. Consider what you have that others might like to have. Count your own blessings. Literally. Especially since it’s Thanksgiving. Do you think there are others who might see your life and wish they could have what you have? Like an orphan in Uganda maybe? I find it’s really difficult to be jealous when you are busy being thankful.

If you are a person who struggles with bad feelings that crop up because of what other people post on social media, maybe you should consider just pulling out of the system. If scrolling through Facebook causes you to think ugly things about other people or to be discontented with your own life, then is it worth participating? I’d say maybe not. And that is TOTALLY OKAY. It really is.

But maybe all we need to do is recognize when those negative feelings crop up and just get some perspective. Maybe it’s simply a matter of paying attention to our own attitudes and making decisions to give people the benefit of the doubt (or accept them as they are) and realize that others’ lives and what they choose to post don’t necessarily affect our own lives. Right?

We don’t need to assume the worst about everyone. We don’t need to assume the worst about ourselves. We don’t need to assume that others are assuming the worst about us. I don’t think I have to spell it out- you know what assuming does, people.

Let’s all take a deep breath and remember we are each one of us created in the image of an almighty God who loves us and we all have our own strengths and weaknesses.

And let’s just agree that it’s okay to giggle a little when we see #blessed.

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