6 Ways to Break Free From the Vicious Cycle of Comparison

Updated on November 2, 2018
Alyssa Nichol profile image

Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast who loves sharing her favorite lifestyle tips with the world.

It's easy to get caught up in social media. Time passes quickly when you're scrolling through your feed, trying to stay in the know with what everyone is doing. Social media can be an amazing resource, but if you aren't careful, it can consume you. Everyone wants to post their best moments, and what starts out as genuine curiosity can take a dark turn into obsession and envy. Eventually spiraling into a vicious cycle of comparison that seemingly has no end.

That introduction escalated quickly, mirroring the dark feelings that can hit you without warning. One minute you are genuinely happy for your friends and the people you follow. Suddenly, within the next minute, you might find yourself questioning your own life:

  • I don't have this or that.
  • I can't do this or that.
  • His or her body is perfect, why isn't mine more like that?
  • He or she is living a life of luxury, why don't I have those things?
  • He or she is making a difference in the world, what am I doing with my life?
  • Everyone loves this person, why don't they love me?
  • What's wrong with me?

Sound familiar? Those might be extremes, but they encompass the real thoughts and feelings that occur when you start comparing your life with everyone else's. Once you enter that mindset, it's hard to get out of it. You find yourself in this vicious cycle of comparison and end up feeling horrible about yourself and your life. The good news is that there are real steps you can take to break free from this low-hanging cloud of negativity. The following six steps will help you find your way out of this vicious cycle.

1. Unfriend and Unfollow

Surround yourself with people who inspire you, both in real life and online. Go through each of your social media profiles and unfriend or unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself or your life. This includes celebrities. If you can't stand the Kardashians, but follow them on every social media site to leave hate comments or read the negative stuff, it might be time to unfollow. Your time is important and valuable, most especially the time you set aside to be online. Be picky about who you follow, choosing only those who inspire, encourage, or uplift you. Eliminating the unnecessary negativity will go a long way in helping you break that comparison mindset.

If you are unable to unfriend or unfollow someone, for example a family member, you can always mute them so that you no longer see their posts in your feed.

2. Take a Break

Sometimes the problem is that you've been spending too much time scrolling through your social media. If you find yourself obsessing about engagement or getting cranky for social media related reasons, it might be time for a break.

Step away for a day, a week, a month, whatever you need. Log off your apps or turn off your phone. In addition, realize you don't need to explain yourself. Many times, people will make a big post about the fact that they need a break from being online. Unless you are a business account, it's not necessary. Just take the break. Enjoy being present and spending time with your family and friends. You will be amazed at how this helps you feel better and quickly gets you out of that vicious cycle.

3. Set Boundaries

Another idea when it comes to social media is to set boundaries for yourself. Set up phone-free or internet-free times in your day. Spend that time actually living life and making memories for yourself. Not everything needs to live online. It's such a pleasure to save something just for yourself. This is especially great if you have kids. You wouldn't want your kids to be on social media all day and night. Set the example. Have family time sans phones: play a board game, a video game, or watch a movie. Having time away gives you a healthy perspective, allowing you to appreciate life and what is truly important.

4. Why

Comparison is a natural human behavior and breeds feelings of jealousy and envy, coming from a place of fear or unfulfillment. Recognize why you are feeling this way. Sit with your feelings and be honest with yourself. Why is this bothering you?

5. Take Action

In order to feel better and get rid of these bad feelings, you need to focus on yourself and your goals. What do you want and how can you achieve it? Maybe you want to lose ten pounds, learn a new language, get a promotion, or find a new job. Break it down into doable steps and take action! There is no quicker way to break the cycle of comparison than by getting up and doing something, focusing on achieving your own goals and living your best life.

6. Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life

How you feel has a lot to do with where your thoughts are. Recognize triggers, avoid them when possible, and learn ways to turn your thinking around.

Start by appreciating what you do have. You might not like your job, but you have one. You get paid every time you show up and do some tasks for a few hours. Having a job and earning money is something to be thankful for. You might not think your house or apartment is big enough, but you have a place that you can call your own. A place to come home to each night is something to be thankful for. Maybe you are carrying a few extra pounds than you'd like after having a baby, simply because you indulged a few times more than you should have or because you've gotten older. Your children are always a reason to be thankful. Having food to eat is something to be thankful for. Just being alive and having another day to spend time with your loved ones is reason enough to give thanks.

No, it is not always easy to squash those negative feelings, but each time you make a conscious effort to replace them with feelings of gratitude, you are taking steps to eliminate that vicious cycle of comparison. Taking personal responsibility for your life makes all the difference. Change your attitude, your outlook, your mindset, and watch how your life changes.

© 2018 Alyssa


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This really is a very important topic in today's world. It was even true back in the Dark Ages when I was coming of age. Unfortunately, it's an inside job, loving oneself, but your suggestions certainly will help.


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