Breaking Free from the Comparison Trap: Strategies for Women’s Mental Wellness

Humans are wired to be social beings. In fact, for our ancestors to survive, it was crucial to engage in comparison to secure one’s safety. However, if you find yourself frequently comparing to others and preoccupied with negative self-talk, it’s worth taking the time to explore the comparison trap and how to break free from this type of negative thinking style.

There’s a quote I often refer to in my practice which is, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” It’s a common tendency to compare to others. From the outside, it can seem like everyone else has it all together. However, the reality is everyone is going through their own journey filled with ups and downs. The act of comparing to others and magnifying one’s weaknesses while simultaneously minimizing one’s strengths and achievements leads to low self-esteem and negative self-worth.

The Role of Social Media and Digital Vulnerability

Social media plays a large role in promoting the social comparison trap. From a young age, technology is integrated into the daily lives of women and girls. While studies show that social media at times helps boost self-expression and build community, there are other major pitfalls. Scrolling aimlessly through social media has been shown to increase poor body image, sleep disturbance, isolation, and loneliness. As a general assumption, social media users are often sharing a curated highlight reel of their lives.

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Therefore, one is not receiving a realistic, authentic, and integrated sense of reality. Very quickly, social media can lead you down a rabbit hole. You may feel less than as you compare your life achievements, social engagement, wardrobe, relationships, physical appearance, and more. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your social media consumption, as it can negatively impact your mental health and overall well-being.

How to Stop Comparing and Doubting Your Own Self-worth

The habit of comparison can quickly activate one’s inner critic. Our inner critic is our own worst enemy, and nothing more than a series of thoughts that have a tremendous amount of control over our well-being if we let them. There are many ways women’s issues therapy in NYC, NY can help you improve your inner dialogue and promote a more realistic and compassionate inner voice. As a women’s therapist in NYC, here are three ways you can start taming your inner critic and reduce the negative effects of comparison.

Practice Gratitude:

When you operate from a state of being grateful for what you have, it drastically refocuses your attention and mood. Your mind will begin to focus on what you appreciate and this in turn creates a powerful emotional shift. Some easy ways to develop gratitude are starting a gratitude journal practice and naming five things each day that you are grateful for. You can also ask yourself “What is going well in my life right now?” By tuning in to what you are grateful for, you will remind yourself of what you have rather than what you lack.

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Get Playful with Your Inner Critic:

The next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to others and feeling down, take a moment to name your inner critic. I often suggest clients give this voice a silly name or even a foreign accent. By separating the inner critic in this way, you are interrupting the hold this voice has on your mood and creating a meaningful distance from your negative thoughts.

Develop an Abundance and Growth Mindset:

It’s beneficial to take the time to re-evaluate any unhelpful thoughts and beliefs you hold related to comparison. If you find that the achievements of others lead you to feel somehow behind in life, chances are you are operating under a scarcity mindset.

Paradoxically, individuals who engage in an abundance mindset operate from a framework that there is more than enough for everyone to go around. Rather than viewing someone else’s achievements as a critique of your own, see if you can instead celebrate others! Remind yourself that accomplishments, growth, and success are not limited. In fact, there is more than enough for everyone including yourself. With a growth mindset, you’ll begin to experience mistakes, setbacks, and challenges as simply temporary moments as well as opportunities to learn, improve, and grow.

The next time you find yourself comparing to others, remind yourself of the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

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