It's so easy to look at other people's beautiful homes, "perfect" families and gorgeous wardrobes and compare our own homes, families and lives to theirs. Let's talk about how to stop comparing ourselves to people on the internet so that we stop wasting time, stop wasting money and stop feeling inadequate!
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The other day I shared a TikTok / Instagram Reels video showing photos of my entry hallway as it normally appears on the internet, and then a video of how it can look during a busy week. It resonated with a lot of people. Now more than ever, we need to remember that the perfection we see on Instagram, YouTube and blogs isn't always "real life".
When I share DIY & home decor inspiration online, my photos usually look like this:
The reality is that my bedroom looks like THIS most of the time:
My bedroom's usually a little messy, I'm a little tired, and there's often laundry piled on the chairs or bed.
It's SO EASY to forget that most photos shared online are part of a highlight reel. Rarely do people show photos of their messy homes. Of course we clean up our room and style it nicely for photos and videos! I love a beautifully clean and perfectly styled room. It's part of how I express myself as an artist. However, the rooms don't stay that way and quickly get messy. We have to work really hard as a family to tidy and clean our home every week, and it's not always easy.
So, how do we stop comparing ourselves to people on the internet?
Comparison is a normal human instinct, and I believe we have to work actively every day to stop letting it steal our joy. Psychologically speaking, the social comparison theory (first proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954) can explain why we have such a strong tendency to compare ourselves to others. This process involves "people coming to know themselves by evaluating their own attitudes, abilities, and traits in comparison with others." Combine this tendency with all of the information we have readily available on the internet, and it's easy to fall into the trap of comparison.
Knowing that it's a natural urge and that we face it every day online (hello, gorgeous Instagram photos), here are some steps we can take to stop comparing:
Remind yourself that most photos are staged
As a blogger of over 12 years I know for a FACT that most photos you see online are staged. A lot of work goes into the cleaning, styling and photographing of a space (or a person!) to share as an inspiration photo online. Remind yourself of this fact as you browse through Instagram. It's OK to appreciate the beauty of a photo and how much hard work and creativity has gone into it, but don't forget that it's probably carefully cleaned and staged. There are also filters that can be used to make photos - and videos! - look a lot better than they look in reality.
Set limits on social media consumption
Even though Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok are ways that we can find entertainment and communicate with friends (AND make a living, like me!), spending too much time on them can make us feel less than. Limiting the time we spend on these apps can help us truly appreciate our "real life" and stop the constant barrage of perfect photos from floating through our brains. I'm continually working on this one, but my goal is to take Sunday completely off social media.
Write down what you're grateful for every day
There's something so powerful about simply writing down what you're grateful for. It can be as simple as a roof over your head or food to eat. It can be that you're grateful for your dog, your children or the fact that you can even access the internet to enjoy inspiring photos. I had the worst year of my life in 2014. There were some months where we couldn't even pay our mortgage and we were experiencing a lot of financial, family and marital strife. One thing that carried me through was documenting one moment each day that brought me joy. Something simple like pushing my daughter on our swing outside was a moment I was grateful for.
Compare yourself with... yourself!
As a content creator, I often find myself slipping into the trap of comparing myself to other creators. What really helps me is reminding myself that who I should be comparing myself to is... my former self! Am I getting more skilled each day as I practice my decorating, designing, photography, videography, writing etc? Am I more compassionate, kinder, more empathetic, more loving than the Christina of 5 years ago? That's really who I should be comparing myself to. We're all on a journey of growth and change, and it's fun to look back and see how far you've come.
THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
Do you find yourself comparing your life to the lives of people online? Which one of these methods do you want to implement to help yourself feel more content and stop comparing? Let me know in the comments below!