31) Compare, Despair, & Facebook

This week’s blog and podcast episode is about something us humans do all the time; we compare ourselves to one another and make judgements about what we believe to be true. For multiple reasons we love to compare and despair! What better opportunity for us to do that than on Facebook? We are going to explore why we get so caught up in this, how it triggers us in negative ways, and how we can experience so much more peace if we actively manage our minds on social media.

First, let’s acknowledge that even if we perceive our situation as better than somebody else’s, there is always somebody else who we perceive to be doing better than us and that seems to be who we focus on. We see their beautiful homes, fancy cars, and hear about their amazing vacations they go on and we envy them and wish we could be more like them. What is really happening is we are rejecting our present moment as not being good enough and wishing it was somehow different. We could have a million great things going on in our lives, but our brains always want to offer us what we do not have and what is not good enough. This is normal, nothing has gone wrong. This is just another reason we have to be onto our brains and the BS they offer us. Another reason why we have to learn how to manage our minds.

For example, I am in multiple Facebook groups where new life coaches discuss the progress they are making in their business and celebrate their accomplishments. Depending on my frame of mind when I look at their posts, it can inspire me or totally bring me down. On a bad day, I start to measure myself against them and think I should be at the same place as the ones who are “really” successful. I can start to think something has gone wrong and I am off track. Those thoughts trigger fear and doubt in me. I look for evidence to support that they are true and then take action from that place, which gives me my less than desirable results. I forget that we all have totally unique brains and look at life through our own distinctive filter. I lose sight of the fact that when we compare ourselves to other humans it is sort of like comparing apples and oranges. We have no idea of their life experiences, how they arrived to the point where they are, or even how they view themselves.

Now let’s talk about when I am managing my mind and having a good day and I look at the group posts. I can be inspired by the success of the other coaches because I am not comparing myself to them. On these days I know everything is unfolding exactly as planned and if I trust the process, I will have my own success as well. This triggers a feeling of confidence and leads to totally different actions and results than fear and doubt would create. On the good days I know anything I think about them is a projection of my own brain. I know that since they are humans with brains, they are most likely comparing themselves to somebody else who is doing “better” than them, and they don’t feel good enough! So you see here that when we feel bad about where we are in our lives and how we are doing, it really doesn’t have anything to do with other people. It is more about what gets triggered in our minds when we see other people doing “better” than us. If we can actively choose to be good enough on purpose and maintain our belief in ourselves, we don’t have to be threatened by other people’s success or good fortune and this feels so much better.

Okay, let’s look at another example of how this can play out. Say the family finally gets to go on that vacation we have been saving up for and we are super excited about it. Everybody is anticipating how much fun it will be, where we will be staying, how we will spend our time. Then we decide to get on Facebook to maybe share our plans and we see that somebody else is doing something way more expensive and way fancier than we are. Never mind that we were really excited a minute ago, now our mind has been triggered and we might be thinking oh man, I wish that was what we had planned. Those people are so lucky. We are never going to be able to afford something like that and then we feel disappointed and like the trip is not as good as it should be. This kind of compare and despair is coming directly from our ego, and it is totally brain BS!

On the flip side, if we focus on how hard we have worked to make this vacation a possibility, we can feel good about ourselves. If we can accept our reality exactly as it is and not reject it as not good enough, we do not need to suffer. We can trust the process that this is our vacation now and we are going to fully enjoy it. Instead of comparing ourselves to other people who have more money, we can compare our past self with our current self. We can acknowledge how far we have come and celebrate all of our accomplishments that permit us to be able to afford any vacation at all. It really is just choosing where you want to give your attention. Do we want to stay stuck in envy and not feeling good enough? Or do we want to feel grateful, abundant and at peace with the reality of our lives just as they are for now?

Alright, let’s look at another Facebook scenario that can get us going and is quite common. Say we decide to post a picture or comment on social media, and we notice that nobody is responding or reacting to it. Our first thought might be, I wonder why nobody is responding. We start to compare our posts and the level of activity they generate to other people who have posted. We notice how many likes they get and how often what they posted got shared. We usually start to make it mean something negative or uncomfortable about ourselves when we do not get that external validation that is so important to us on Facebook. We think it is a problem that nobody appears to care about our post because of the BS our brain is offering us. We make something that is not a problem into a source of suffering when we do not purposely manage our minds.

For instance, I have a Facebook group called The Brain BS Group and used to have a stepmom’s groups called So Much More Than Stepmoms. I posted in those groups every day for months with no replies or responses from anybody! I will admit that I started to get pretty frustrated and discouraged with the whole Facebook group thing and trying to get people to speak up. I started to spend all my time in the heads of my group members trying to figure out what they were thinking or wanted. I became impatient and was basically rejecting the present moment and the current state of the group. Because of that becoming my whole point of attraction (remember the Law of Attraction), I was just attracting more of the same type of energy in my group and robbing myself of my personal power in the process. It was not until I started to come back to myself and manage my own energy on Facebook, that I changed my point of attraction. At some point my thought process evolved from thinking I was not doing anything good enough, to recognizing that social media was an amazing opportunity for personal growth. Instead of thinking I needed other people to validate me or my posts, I decided that it is not necessary if I love how I am showing up and validate myself. I basically came to realize that it is all part of trusting the process and there is always a lesson in anything that causes me the least amount of suffering. I know I must remember that anything happening on social media is happening for me, not to me.

Okay, let’s explore social media from another angle that can trigger us. It used to be when our high school class reunion was coming up and we wanted to know how somebody was doing and what they looked like now, we would have to wait for the event to take place. These days, we just search for the person on Facebook or google them to find out what they are all about and to discover what has been happening for the last however many years. Not only does this kind of take the fun out of it a bit, it also triggers lots of comparisons and feelings of not being good enough. We forget we are making interpretations of their lives through our unique brain filter without even interacting with them! This leaves so much room for misperceptions because everything we see is just a projection of our own brain. We might even search enough people in our class and find so many of them doing well, that we choose not to attend the reunion because we believe we come up short when we compare ourselves to them.

How about instead of letting our ego run rampant, we remember that we are only seeing a fraction of the life of an individual on FB, the side that is presented to us because it looks great! We are not seeing the whole picture. We know this because anybody with a brain who is alive experiences 50/50, half the time life sucks, half the time it doesn’t. This applies to all of us whether we are rich, successful, beautiful, and famous or unattractive, poverty stricken, unemployed and nobody knows us. All the uncomfortable feelings are experienced by all of us and part of the human experience. So the next time you want to compare and despair on Facebook, DON’T!

In conclusion, because we all have brains, we love to take note of how we are not good enough and everybody else is doing better than us when we look at social media. Making. matters worse, Facebook is a venue that thrives on seeking validation from other’s, which totally robs us of our personal power! If we can learn to manage our minds, accept that we are all in this human experience together (no matter what it might appear like on the surface!), and bring the right energy to our time on Facebook, we can lose the compare and despair and create a much more pleasant experience for ourselves on social media. Join me in the Brain BS Podcast to discuss this further!