It's common to fall into a downward emotional spiral after scrolling through your social media feed. This is because our brains automatically engage in comparative thinking based on the images we see. You see an image, and in a split second, you're assessing what it means about you. If you're not mindful of your thinking patterns, this can trigger feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
As you know, society encourages materialism, narcissism, and competition. You can see the embodiment of these values by looking at advertisements and some people's posts on social media.
If you're going through a vulnerable time in your life, or aren't feeling strong in your sense of self, social media can easily activate your insecurities. You may even start to assess your life in a negative way. This might seem productive but it's not because you've lost perspective on what matters.
The comparative mind can compress your thinking process. This makes you feel depressed and think in unrealistic extremes. For example, you might start to think that everyone else has their life together and you're always failing miserably.
When you're in this mindset, you mistakenly think that there's a hierarchy of self-worth, and some people are more worthy than others based on what they have.
This logic is then further reinforced by societal messages about materialistic values. Yet, time and again, research has shown that materialism doesn't lead to happiness, and having "things" is only one of many ways to measure success. Thus, self-worth isn't about what you have and it's certainly not about being better or worse than anyone.
True self-worth comes from the understanding of equanimity. There is no hierarchy and no one is inherently better or worse than anyone else. Everyone is on a unique path in their life, but deep down, we all have the same level of worthiness.
If you tend to compare yourself to other people, engage in scarcity thinking, and feel inadequate about yourself, it's important to learn tools to help you interrupt this pattern of negative thinking. The practices below will help you to counteract negative thoughts so you can expand your perspective and remember the bigger picture.
3 Tools to Interrupt Negative Thinking, Judgment, and Comparison
1. Walk or sit in nature and meditate on the concept of equanimity or oneness. Notice the vastness of the trees, the ocean, and the sky. Notice how the trees don't judge the sky, compete with the flowers or compare themselves to the birds. Everything serves a function and co-exists to create a magnificent ecosystem. Think of how this applies to human existence.
2. Breathe deeply for at least 15 minutes each day. This helps you to feel the power in the body while quieting the mind of negative thoughts. Breathing slowly and into the diaphragm soothes your nervous system. The breath can also empower your confidence and self-worth because it's an act of self-care.
3. Meditate to relax your body and mind. Stress can send you into fight or flight mode. This can contribute feelings of fear, scarcity, and insecurity. When you're in a relaxed physical, mental and emotional state, you're less likely to feel reactive or fall down the rabbit hole of comparison.
Having a consistent meditative, breathing, or movement practice will help you to feel empowered and good about yourself. This will help you to be more resilient and less susceptible to comparative thinking.
Try these practices for one week and then drop me a line in the comments below to let me know how they worked for you.