The More You Compare, the Lower Your Despair

Our morning routines and habits are all too familiar and similar: you wake up, check your phone – primarily to scroll through Facebook or another social media account before you get out of bed. So at the very start of your day, you have already triggered the process of comparing yourself to everyone you know – and how much they are doing in contrast to you. You then nag yourself with thoughts of what you may be missing or lacking, often throughout the rest of the day.

Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of The Search for Fulfillment, explains that many people experience the phenomena known as “FOMO,” or Fear of Missing Out. You see your friends and family having fun or at some type of event while you are at home left off the invitation list.

Anxiety, worry, and excessive sense of insecurity about yourself will encourage you to depress yourself, especially if you repeat this sad process on a daily basis. Maintaining motivation is so important to be able to have a positive attitude. If you are pessimistically looking at your life because you believe that everyone around you is living and doing better than you, it is not much of a stimulant to get yourself motivated.

What is particularly important is that some children and adolescents are more prone to depressive symptoms in response to social media and social comparisons. Dr. Krauss cites the American Academy of Pediatrics’ warning that “Facebook could trigger depression in children and adolescents, populations that are particularly sensitive to social rejection.” Parents, your children’s (including your teens) usage of technology should be monitored and appropriate curfew should be established and maintained, regardless of what anyone else is allowing their child to do.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, realize that you are actually an agent of change and you can make your life happier, if you wanted to. Accept where you are now. Have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself for the choices you made or the opportunities you missed, which is a universal experience. Envy will never help you become a happier or more adjusted individual.

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