4 Tips to Stop Comparison Scrolling on Social Media and Be More Focused, Energized and Productive
I have a growing start-up business, a family that loves me, and hundreds of friends around the world. Yet, sometimes I find myself doubting where my life is going. Not because it’s going in the wrong direction, but because I ask myself this question: are other people’s lives better than mine?
We see it every day. Posts from influencers and celebrities on social media, people whose lives shouldn’t matter to us. And yet, we find ourselves scrolling through our feeds, admiring their beautiful tropical vacation, their new car/watch/house or the remarkable new position they just landed. I should repeat: these types of people shouldn’t matter to us. So why do we trap ourselves into this cycle, where we look at these posts that will only serve to upset, not entertain us?
The answer is simple: we look at other people’s lives, often through the snippets they choose to post on social media, because there’s something we feel is lacking in our own. I won’t lie to you, I’m not where I want to be. I dream about getting a full-time team and the ability to help people all over the world reprogram their brains. I’m sure you want something, too. Maybe the place you currently live isn’t your “dream house.” Or perhaps feel lonely and wish you had more friends or a special someone. So you pull out your phone, only to find someone you “know” with something you want. Something you wish you had for yourself. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we don’t always check on others to see how they’re doing; sometimes, we check to see if they’re doing better than us.
While this is perfectly normal, that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. President Roosevelt himself said that, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” You might think there’s no harm in checking up on the lives of your peers or those you follow, but ask yourself: is the knowledge of how their lives are going really adding anything to your own life? Most likely, the answer is no. I’ve been to 51 different countries, but when I’m not currently traveling, it gets me angry to see others on their dream vacations. So all it’s really doing is sparking unhelpful emotions.
If these are thoughts you have, here’s something worth keeping in your mind next time you look at someone through social media: you’re comparing someone else’s highlight reel to your every life. People don’t often share the fights they got into with their partner or getting fired from their job. No, what you see is the best moments they have to share. So, is it really fair to compare your day-to-day life to their highlights? Of course not!
What can we do to avoid this temptation to compare ourselves to others online? Whitney English, creator of HEART goals (a great compliment to SMART goals), states that you should “Have an intention when using social media.” What this means is using your time spent online as something other than a way to idly pass the time. If you think about it, we and most other people predominantly spend time online to take a break and relax our brains. But by doing that, we’re ruminating on the things that we don’t have and others do, and that’s when those comparisons start to crop up and overwhelm our thoughts. Not a great way to pass the time or “relax.” So let’s do something about that.
For starters, we can try using social media as a tool rather than entertainment. At the end of the day, sites like Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for networking, but many of us have gotten so automated on auto scrolling through strangers’ feeds that we seem to have lost sight of that. I’ll sometimes go on Instagram to check a message or post something and next thing I know I’ve taken up 15-minutes and scrolled waaaay down my feed, before realizing what I was doing. We’ve become so accustomed to this, it’s autopilot. For me, I’ve realized that when this happens, it’s coming from a place of scarcity and laziness; I’ve lacking something in the moment so instead of actually doing something about it, I go “looking” for it somewhere else.
The things we don’t have often drive us to compare. But if these comparisons achieve nothing other than making us doubt ourselves, the best course of action is to TAKE ACTION.
When is the last time you scrolled Facebook or Instagram and then thought to yourself “I feel energized right now?!” Remember, if something is draining you, that means it’s taking your energy and not giving anything back. You don’t get anything by wasting time looking at what’s going well for other people. And it probably feels upsetting when you fixate on what you don’t have; it certainly does for me and I end up feeling less accomplished and less fulfilled because of this behavior.
Another important thing to consider is when you check your phone. Many of us have formed the habit of checking our phone first thing in the morning. That’s a bad idea, and here’s why: when you first wake up, your brain is in the theta state. That is when you’re most suggestible to be influenced. So if you wake up groggy and check your social media only to get upset, it gets into your head and can ruin your whole day. I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past and how it can wreak havoc on my day.
So we have pinpointed the dangers of auto-scrolling social media. It’s a huge time waste if we’re using it without purpose and it can be a huge downer to check it when we’re emotionally susceptible. So what can we do about it? Here are some tips that I learned in my own social media battle that can improve your day and, over time, drastically change your life for the better.
1. Consider how often you look at social media and for how long.
Part of why we idle on there for so long and waste our time is because we don’t limit ourselves. We check whenever we get a break in our day, then we lose track of time and lose motivation to get things done. So the best thing you can do is block off time in your day where you can check social media (not in the morning) and confine yourself to looking at it only during those times.
2. Ask yourself why you scroll in the first place?
As you’re becoming more aware of how often you’re on social media, it’s important to ask yourself “Why?” Why do you need to check your emails whenever you’re on break? Why do you go on Twitter while waiting in line at the grocery store? For everyone it’s different, and if you want to change your habits you should first understand them. I know my reason: I’m scared to create my own content, largely because I’m scared of the rejection I might face. It’s a lot easier to be entertained by others instead of putting myself out there. Likewise, a lot of people go on their phone to avoid something, such as not wanting to go to bed, or putting off something they really need to get done. Whatever the case may be, by connecting with your thoughts and understanding the motivations that lead to your behavior, you are much more likely to overcome this habit.
3. Create a new habit when you’re “bored”
What’s important is that the new habit you form is something healthy and impactful, not just another bad habit to replace the old one. So if you check your phone first thing in the morning and you want to change that, try a good morning ritual that will put you on the right foot to tackle your day. I’ve replaced staying in bed on my phone with meditation, breathing techniques, and exercises as part of the PsyFi System™ I created to feel better, instead of worse. During the day, instead of scrolling, I’ll force myself to do one a 90-second workout instead.
4. Become more of a creator and less of a consumer
Adding onto the last point, it’s so important to recognize just how much we’re consuming. Ever check your consumption stats on your phone? It can be scary. After a while, doesn’t it become tiring? While consuming is a mindless, automatic behavior that ultimately leads to nothing getting done, creating is mindful and thoughtful, plus it grants you the opportunity to prove to yourself just how much potential you have. Even though I know better, this gets to me too; it’s just so much easier to sit back and scroll through what other people are posting than to work on ourselves, that sometimes we can’t help but be lazy. But a large part of the reason we compare ourselves to idealized personas on social media is because we consume so much of it. Ultimately, it’s creating that leads to clarity. But just like everyone else, I struggle to get motivated sometimes too. That’s why I challenge myself to sit down and create something, anything, for at least five minutes every day. I use it as a start-off point to get the ball rolling, and after those five minutes of dragging my feet to create, I’m often surprised by what I’m producing. In fact, it often leads me to work well past those five minutes, and I feel amazing afterwards.
In this information age, it’s crucial to remember that whatever it is you’re consuming, you can’t be consumed by it. We hear news stories and see click-bait everyday that draw us in and make us susceptible to accept what we’re heard without fully observing the facts. We need to stay vigilant and look for what forms the best path for us. Social media is a fantastic tool that was intended to allow us to form connections with people we never thought possible. But now, we find ourselves stuck on numbers and pending friend requests. We care too much about people we hardly know. And the people we do see, we’ll never see their full story when we just observe their feed, no matter how hard we try. At the end of the day, Jim Rohn said it best: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So look at who you look up to and care about the most. Those are the people who should drive you, not some stranger on the internet.
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