Social comparison is inevitable and happens automatically when we’re exposed to information about others. It’s important to unpack social comparison and understand its role in our performance because social media culture now presents us with increased opportunity to make unhelpful social comparisons.
What Exactly Is Social Comparison?
Social comparison theory suggests that it’s a core aspect of human behaviour—we all have an innate drive to evaluate ourselves in relation to others in our social group. There are evolutionary roots to social comparison because it would have helped us understand and find our place in a group as well as identify traits that would increase our ability to compete, survive and reproduce.
How Social Comparison Impacts Performance
While social comparison as a psychological mechanism was adaptive, we now have limitless potential for comparing ourselves to others via social media. This way of thinking has become heightened and amplified–impacting our self-belief, motivation and behaviour.
The pressure to keep up socially and live a life that looks good has never been so wide reaching. We rank ourselves against others we see on our social media feeds, comparing everything from attitudes to material possessions and status. Those comparisons then become a measure for how well you feel you’re doing in your life.
As high performers we must be mindful of unhelpful social comparison because it can plant seeds of self-doubt and twist your perception to one of scarcity.
Strategies To Limit Unhelpful Social Comparison
1. Use Your Own Standard of Success. The pressure to keep up on social media can lead to feeling like you have to achieve certain markers. Comparison can really thrive within us when we aren’t aware of our own version of success and how we would like to feel in our daily lives. Take time to think more broadly about what you really want and how to get in alignment with that in your life.
2. Use What You Have. It’s true that there will always be someone with better resources, contacts, environment, experience, money and energy than you. Yet the more you put your own resources to work in your life the more progress and opportunities you will have.
3. Curate Your Feed. Bring consciousness to what you allow in your social media feeds. When you understand how much that content impacts you it prompts more deliberate choices to interact with people that help you stay focused and inspire you.
– Coach Liane