It’s that time of year again. Where you’ll open up your social media feeds to bloggers posting holiday outfits that you won’t look good in, promotions of Christmas wish-list items you can’t afford, and social seasonal activities of your “friends” friends-givings or cookie swap parties that you either weren’t invited to, or just don’t have time for. You’ll be gathering with extended family members who have more, look better, do more….
You see where this is going, right? Do you ever feel like you are completely failing at that whole, “don’t compare yourself to others” thing?
We can all have trouble brushing off those uncomfortable jealous feelings, and a quick Insta-scroll can sometimes leave us feeling slightly less happy or satisfied with ourselves.
Of course, none of us intend fall into the comparison trap.
In fact, whenever we see, “Comparison is the thief of joy” or “Admire another woman’s beauty without questioning your own,” we wholeheartedly “like,” comment with a hands-up emoji and give a silent amen.
But the hard truth is, not comparing ourselves to others is really, really hard.
Why? Well first off, did you know our brains are actually wired to evaluate and judgethe things we see around us immediately? This, mixed with the fact that social comparison is a natural part of our human development, can leave anyone feeling like we’re fighting an uphill battle. Without some real acknowledgement of these judgments and comparisons, jealousy can eat up your happiness.
Here’s a few key steps to not fall into the jealous comparison trap this holiday season:
- Notice Your Automatic Thoughts
Let your automatic thoughts come as soon as you notice jealously or disappointment creeping in. In fact, write them down so you can see exactly what you are thinking.
For example, some observations might be, “I wish I had more followers,” or “People never notice me.” These are immediate and automatic thoughts that we have little to no control over. Only after we allow these deeper, more vulnerable parts of us to be brought into the light can we actually start to work with and through them.
- Acknowledge the Deeper Beliefs
As you look over your automatic thoughts, ask yourself, “What am I believing about myself or telling myself about myself based on these thoughts? Be aware as well, that honesty here about the dark and scary’s is the only way out. For example, “my blog post has so few likes, I must be lousy at helping people.”
- Identify the Trap
Every single person falls prey to unhelpful thinking traps, but the problem is when we get stuck in them.
Some common ones include: predicting the future, assuming we can read other people’s minds, thinking only in terms of entirely black or white, overgeneralizing everything toalways be a certain way, disqualifying positive things that happen in our life, jumping to conclusions etc. Many of our uncomfortable thoughts fit into those traps, so start identifying which ones you are guilty of.
- Use Evidence
Identify the evidence that bolsters and refutes your deeper beliefs (as realized in step 2). For example: What is the evidence that supports the belief that I’m a lousy therapist? What is the evidence that refutes the belief that I’ll be a better therapist if I get more likes?
Don’t shy away from the evidence. And, it is almost guaranteed what we’ll find is that we have long lists of evidence that refute our unhelpful and perhaps sometimes, a little embarrassing beliefs or insecurities.
After all our thoughts and feelings have surfaced and been evaluated, we can create more balanced thoughts in response to the initial automatic thoughts. Remember to keep these reframed thoughts realistic so that you actually believe them. For example, “It might feel special to have more likes on my blog post, but I enjoy using my creative mind to write the posts and that feels special too!”
So the next time we notice jealously or negative self-judgment rearing it’s head, be curious about what thoughts and beliefs are underlying those feelings. As we embrace the uncomfortable through this aforementioned process, we’ll move beyond the comparison game and become attuned with what we really need and value in life.
What are the most common thinking traps you fall into?