You’re at it again, taking a moment to scroll through your social media of choice to see what everyone is up to. Chances are, you’ve already read a handful of messages that made you roll your eyes, and maybe you’ve already read something that’s made you jealous or angry.
There’s nothing in this world quite as damaging as the comparison game. Each time you find yourself becoming annoyed because so-and-so’s kid has won a dance contest, again, or what’s-her-name is on yet another beach vacation, you are comparing their wins to your normal life. It isn’t fair to you or them to believe you’ve been slighted because someone else is having a better time that you are at that moment.
It can be hard to see how some people seem to have it easy when we are struggling. It can also be hard to see someone receiving help and support for the same issue that you are struggling with when it seems like no one is there to give you the same kind of support. If you find that you are feeling angry or bitter after scrolling through social media, then you might be beating yourself up over things that have nothing to do with you.
Beating back the comparison gremlins
If you’re not in a good headspace, then it’s easy to slip into nitpicking other people’s successes or good news in an attempt to feel better about yourself. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but tearing others down to make you feel better doesn’t work. It only serves to pull you down to the same level where you’re trying to stick them.
While it will take some conscious effort, you can train yourself to do the opposite. When someone else succeeds, take a minute and think something kind about it. “Way to go!” and “she’s awesome” and “she worked hard for that,” are all great options. Just as how thinking about negative things brings you down, thinking about positive things gives you a lift. The more you do this, the better you will feel about not only those around you, but yourself as well. Even better, if your kids catch you doing it they will learn to be better sports about not winning.
The time I wallowed in a puddle of author self-pity
I’ve been at this whole novel-writing thing for a while now and have made lots of friends in the industry. There are so many of them, in fact, that my social feeds tend to be full of the work their doing and the successes they’ve encountered. While I do my best to cheer them on, there’s always a part of me that keeps piping up with the unfairness of the entire industry.
You see, I live in a place where you can’t throw a rock without hitting an author. It’s weird. When I tell people I’ve written a few books, they shrug and tell me about their sister or uncle who also has written a few books. What this means is that the excitement level for new books and new authors around here is practically zero. Had I lived somewhere else, it would be different.
I used to let it really bother me. There were huge blocks of time when I got so fed up with the system that I set down entire projects because I had no guarantee that my hundreds of hours of work would result in anything other than a pretty stack of paper.
Now that I’ve been in the game longer, I’ve got a lot more perspective, not to mention several amazing mentors who have helped me see the power of long-term effort. Do I still get a little bitter when someone earns honors that I don’t think they deserve? Sometimes…but, now I also know just how hard they did work to get to where they are and can appreciate it.
Discussion Question: Have you ever made yourself super bitter about a situation that you didn’t fully understand and then were proven wrong?