Social comparison is the act of comparing one’s ability and opinion to that of others. We have an innate need for self-evaluation in order to assess our thoughts and behavior. There is no objective way to measure if what we are doing is correct or acceptable. We compare ourselves to others to understand our behavior and gauge how we are doing in life. Social comparison is not done at random; we tend to compare ourselves to someone that has similar opinions or abilities close to our own. The more similarities we have with the people of comparison the better we feel about ourselves.
There are two types of Social Comparison: the upward and the downward comparison. In the upward comparison, you compare yourself to someone doing better than you in many areas of life mostly for self-improvement. In the downward comparison, you compare yourself to someone worse off than you. In some cases, doing the downward comparison can lead to a confidence boost but that’s not always a guaranteed outcome.
The tendency to unrealistically evaluate your weakness to other people’s strengths creates an unbalanced comparison. This may have an unfavorable effect on your confidence and self- esteem. Comparing yourself endlessly to others can create stress, and it can also negatively affect your relationship with others.
Social comparison is not always terrible, it can also be beneficial if used for self-improvement/enhancement, for setting goals and evaluating progress. Since the negative of social comparison outweighs the positive, it is good to break a cycle of unhealthy comparison.
Use some of these tips to minimize unhealthy social comparison:
- Practice Gratitude
Count your blessings, remind yourself of your strengths and achievements.
- Become More Aware of Your Thoughts
Be conscious of your thoughts when you’re negatively comparing yourself to others so you can stop and change your focus.
- Seek Connection
Spend time with people who genuinely care about you and make you feel good.
- Take a Step Back
Step back from social media or anything that creates negative thoughts or self-doubt.
Breathe. (n.d.). Zen habits. Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://zenhabits.net/lifes-enough-stop-comparing-yourself-to-others/
Elizabeth Scott, M. (2019, May 28). Stressed By “Fakebooking”? Here’s the Stress Relief You Need! Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-manage-the-stress-of-social-comparison-3145267
Social Comparison: An Unavoidable Upward Or Downward Spiral. (2020, July 07). Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/social-comparison/