- Do you feel deflated whilst scrolling through social media, and end up feeling rubbish for the rest of the day?
- Do you feel resentful towards other people’s achievements?
- Do you criticise others to make yourself look or feel better?
This is compare and despair.
It’s human nature to compare. We all do it. And as motherhood doesn’t come with a manual, it’s understandable that we look at other mums to see if we are doing ok. However, when it leads to continually feeling that you are not good enough, this can be damaging and destructive.
So how can you avoid playing the comparison game?
Here are the 5 A’s:
1. Awareness- recognise that you compare and despair
When you do catch yourself making comparisons, admit it to yourself. Recognise the harsh, judgemental thoughts you have about yourself or others. But don’t beat yourself up about it; otherwise, you end up feeling bad about feeling bad! Instead be kind to yourself.
2. Acceptance– acknowledge your desire to change
Recognise that by accepting how you feel means that you can at least begin to address it…Awareness is the first step to change and acceptance is the second.
3. Avoidance– stay away from your triggers
Start to become aware of situations or certain people that cause you to compare and despair. Is it possible to avoid any of these triggers? For example, if social media is a culprit then limit your time on it. Or better still; use that time to make genuine emotional connections with others in the real world.
4. Assumptions– test what’s real
Whether it’s face to face or on social media, most of the time we only see what other people want us to see. Maybe you can recall a time when you were shocked to hear about friends, who appeared to ‘have it all’, announcing their divorce. Or when you hear about celebrities ending up in rehab.
Let’s also take a closer look at ourselves. Does your social media truly represent your life, or do you pick and choose the best bits?
How many selfies do you take before picking the most flattering one? How many times have you posted a smiling happy photo, which was completely opposite to how you were actually feeling at the time?
The truth is most people have no idea what is really going on in our lives and the hidden battles we may be facing. So why do we assume everyone’s life is better than ours? Is it possible they are doing the same?
What we end up doing is making assumptions about other people’s lives, based on a snapshot, and measuring ourselves against unrealistic standards. Is it any wonder then, that we feel like we can never match up?
5. Action- how you can compare without the despair
- Change your focus
One way to accept unpleasant thoughts is through the practice of mindfulness. By pausing and focussing on your breathing, enables you to acknowledge your feelings and gently change your focus.
- Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t
No one knows your child like you do…you know what works and what doesn’t. So stop trying to keep up with what other mums are doing. Instead, take in the information, and then make choices that are right for you and your child.
- Compare yourself to yourself rather than others
If you look hard enough, there will always be another mum out there who is more patient, has more material possessions, has a more attractive partner, has better-behaved children and so on. So if you continue to compare yourself to others, you will always come off worse.
So instead look back at all the things you have done for the very first time and everything you have achieved…from potty training to surviving your child’s first day at school. Not to mention what you do every day to keep your child safe and loved. Appreciate every little achievement.
- Use comparisons as motivation to change
Comparisons don’t have to be all bad: you can use them to inspire you to make changes.
Perhaps you admire how calm another mum is with her child. Instead of feeling envious or resentful, ask yourself, what realistic changes you can make to control your anger. Or better still; ask the other mum how she manages it. She may see it as a compliment and be happy to share some tips.
The key here is to transform comparison into admiration and feel motivated to make changes, without putting yourself down in the process.
So don’t waste your time focussing on what everyone else is doing. Instead, use that energy and turn your focus inwards and nurture your own wellbeing.
I hope this blog has been useful. If you need any further support please don’t hesitate to contact me.