“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Franklin Roosevelt
Earlier this week I lost hours of my life.
I sat down at my computer to do a little work at 8pm, and poof, when I looked at the clock it was midnight.
Where had the hours gone?
I had been sucked into the vortex of social media and comparison Big-time.
What started as a little check-in on my Instagram and Facebook pages quickly turned into a click-a-thon onto other people’s pages.
It began innocently enough, but in no time at all, I was in the wormhole that is comparison.
By the time I emerged, I felt like crap. I was JEALOUS with a capital “J.”
Everyone else had more followers. More likes. Better websites. Better pictures. Better programs. Better style. Better everything.
What was I doing with my life? Why was I even bothering?
I was in full on green-eyed monster mode. And, then I had myself a good ‘ole sob fest.
Turns out, I’m not alone.
According to research, people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others. People make all sorts of judgements about themselves, and one of the key ways we do this is through social comparison. Read more here.
Two recent studies found that people who used Facebook the most frequently had lower self-esteem than those who used Facebook less or not at all. Chronic Facebook users experienced mostly negative impact from comparing themselves to others who are “better” than them. Read more here.
Great, so I’m not the only one. But, now what?
After I had pulled myself out of the social media black hole and back into the real world, my jealousy got me thinking.
What if there is a way to turn those feelings of lack around?
What if, instead of comparing myself to those I thought were “better”, I flipped the script and let comparison be an example of what’s possible?
If we’re naturally prone to compare, what if I used comparison as a form of motivation?
What to exercise your green-eyed monster demons with me? Here are a few tips:
1. While I know eliminating time on social media isn’t a reality for most of us, try minimizing the amount of time you spend on social media platforms. Research suggests Americans check their social media 17 times per day. Something tells me we can get that number down. Read more here.
2. Remind yourself that most people are posting their most polished, shiny, and literally filtered part of their life to share.
3. Still feeling the pull to scroll and feeling less than worthy as you do? Take a look at what you’re feeling. What is it that you feel you’re lacking? What are you jealous of?
Be a detective and dig deep, sometimes it isn’t what’s on the surface. For example, we might feel jealous of a celebrity and attribute our jealousy to their looks or success. When we dig a little deeper, though, we realize we’re jealous of the love and adoration we link those qualities with and feel we’re missing.
Take the ick out of jealousy and look at it as a tool to help you figure out what you would like more of in your life. How can you cultivate more of what you feel you’re lacking?
4. Look at the person you envy and ask yourself, how am I like this person? By seeing how you are alike, you can see their success as a real possibility for you. Ask yourself, how is this an example of what it possible for me? How can this motivate me?
5. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Jon Acuff
Be aware of where you’re at in your journey. So often, we’re comparing our beginner selves to someone else’s years of experience. We can’t see all of the hard work, time, and dedication that went behind the picture or post we’re seeing today. How can you honor where you’re at in your life? How can you use this knowledge as inspiration for what’s possible for you when you reach your “middle”?
I’d love to hear from you! How do you handle comparison?
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10 thoughts on “How the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy Inspired Me”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
It is so me.
I have some public figures that I have stalked and not all of them made me jealous.
Whenever I did, I tried to think the things that they have or done more than I do.
For instance, I know that some people I admire have more supportive parents and it is indeed a plus for their self esteem and thick skin when dealing with harsh online criticism while I have to work harder for for my self esteem due to physical and emotional abuse I have experienced that made me feel afraid of showing the real me.
I must work on taming my inner demons first and I must accept that it takes more time.
Second of all, I also watched movies based on true stories which made me realize that in order to achieve something, sometimes it may need courage and sacrifice like no other.
Sometimes, I felt a lot more insecure when looking at the body of Victoria Secret Models but then when I looked at the videos of the exercises they did, I knew that they deserved the results.
I have learned that my expectations should match the efforts I do.
There were also times when I would not be supportive of someone’s success when I know personally something about them that they do not always expose in public. I was jealous when they got more attention, but it did not really push me to do what they do and instead force myself to get more real because I would only respect them when they are more authentic.
We need that jealousy or envy sometimes.
Maybe we are feeling stuck or lack of motivation and those feelings can be a source of drive
Hi Sri Purna Widari,
Thank you for your vulnerable share and insights. It takes bravery to show the real you.
I couldn’t agree more, sometimes jealousy and envy can act as a guide for us and as a source of drive. I love that you’re able to stand back and look at these situations with such beautiful self-reflection.
Your most welcome
I don’t get ‘jealous’ of Facebraggers, but I do get annoyed. I mean would a sane person walk into a crowded room and shout: “LOOK AT ME!!! LOOK AT ME!!! I’M WONDERFUL AND MY LIFE IS PERFECT!!! YAY FOR ME!!!” And then expect everyone in the room to buy them drinks? That’s what Facebook is. A playground for the conceited and self-congratulatory. Those who lack compassion and consideration for the struggles of the individuals that follow them. Wouldn’t Facebook be great if people could share cool ideas that might enhance the lives of their friends instead?
Ha! “Facebraggers” made me laugh. I hear you. I wonder if there is way to turn the annoyance of Facebraggers around as well? Hmm, next blog post? :)
Hello! Good stuff….however….(knew that was coming, huh?)… it wasn’t jealousy you experienced at all – it was envy. You were envious of these other people, but not jealous. The “Green-Eyed-Monster” always refers to jealousy and jealousy almost always has a romantic component.
ENVY: When you covet what you see others have – you are envious. (The situations you described in your post – or – seeing something like neighbors always taking nice vacations.)
JEALOUSY: When you fear something important (husband, boyfriend, etc.) might be taken away from you – you are jealous.
**No need to publish this publicly.** If you want to check whether or not I am correct, please do. Then, if you want, re-write. A post is forever.
All the best to you,
In the spirit of friendly debate, I disagree… jealousy has several definitions – the first definition listed in the Oxford dictionary: “Feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.” Jealousy and envy are synonyms, used interchangeably in modern English. As is the case with most words in our vocabulary, they each have multiple definitions. Our beloved English language is not quite as specific and precise as other languages. So Kim is right and so are you ;)
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and for your comment. Funnily enough, there are other grammar mistakes I have noticed. Such is the nature of writing, even after editing.
I appreciate the difference you noted between jealousy and envy. I choose to use jealousy because I felt it resonated more, and the definitions today are used interchangeably (in my humble opinion). I tend to write as I converse and break the rules here and there. But, I see your point, and I do agree with you. Technically, envy would have been a better word choice.
Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment!
All the best,
You suggest that it’s not practical to eliminate social media from your life but I disagree strongly. I left Facebook (deactivated my account) a year and a half ago. At first it was an experiment of sorts and I fought my compulsions to check it and then, soon… I didn’t want to check it, I didn’t need Facebook.
You know what happened? Basically nothing, nothing bad that is. The Fear Of Missing Out subsided and I found that I wasn’t missing out on anything. I had much more time in my life to do what I wanted to do and I wasn’t being pulled into the comparison trap or the feeling I had to share something (cleaver, snarky or otherwise) to be of value to myself or others. When I did interact with people whom I had once interacted with on Facebook, I found I was able to have much more deeply informative interactions with them and there was a more genuine flow of enthusiasm for catching up. A lot of superficial thoughts and feelings were simply gone and not missed from my life.
It’s fine to suggest that Facebook can be a benevolent experience, a way to catch up with far flung friends or family or just take a break from your day and enjoy a distraction. The reality is that Facebook ingrains a lot of different compulsions into daily users and a lot of it’s content is toxic. Politics, fear based thinking, reactions to news, opinions… all in addition to the so called polished versions of ourselves that we share.
I’d go as far to suggest that Facebook is used like a drug and like many drugs people abuse it offers a short high and a lot of lingering bad feelings. It’s no wonder people use it 17 times a day on average. The high wears off quickly, people fall into the trap that it’s offering them something and maybe the next update will be better, etc…
Replace Instagram, Snapchat, comments sections on reputable news outlets for Facebook in the above and the results on the user are basically the same.
Leaving Facebook didn’t cure me of my imperfections but it did take a huge burden off of me that I simply didn’t need and haven’t missed for a day since making the break.
I love this. I agree with you that Facebook can have an addictive quality… I wouldn’t be surprised if it lit up the reward centers of our brain and released Dopamine when we checked it (Dopamine is what’s released when people gamble/take cocaine).
Congrats on being Facebook free for over a year and a half. Thank you for sharing this insightful perspective.