I recently listened to a Podcast episode named “5 Reasons to Leave Social Media” by Dr. Shante’ Bishop of Branding for Believers. This podcast episode really resonated with me because I got off of social media with the exception of sharing blog posts and to interact with the moms in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group. Social media became a drain for me because I would post and then constantly look at the metrics to see how many people liked it and how many people commented. I was really concerned about the perception of me via social media. I was obsessed with being liked and social media increased my need to seek out other people’s approval. I grew tired of sharing the highlight reel of my life and trying to create the perception of perfection. Chasing that image of perfection became exhausting. Every time I shared people wanted to know more about my life even down to the newborn pictures of my children. Not only was social media a drain on me because I felt like I had to be perfect for the feed, I also saw things in my feed that caused me to question whether I was doing enough or achieving enough. I found myself comparing my life to other people and other people’s expectations for my life.
As the constant sense of comparison increased, it caused stress and a general sense of inadequacy that I couldn’t measure up. I wanted to enhance the great pieces and hide the faults and trying to keep up was difficult. Then I found myself not truly being able to be happy when others did well. Therefore, I needed to take a break. I needed to get back to me and who I was.
I share this story with you to give you some insight into how things can be when you start to lose what is normal and real life for you and instead compare yourself to other people. In addition to causing stress, you may also experience the following:
When you compare yourself to other people you may find yourself trying to keep up with them. For example, if a friend or celebrity posts a picture of a great vacation, a new pair of shoes, a beautiful bag, etc. you may feel like you need it too. I remember talking to a lady on the airplane one day and she was wealthy. She lived in an exclusive neighborhood full of mansions. However, the mansions weren’t enough. People needed more. There was a couple who lived in the biggest mansion in the neighborhood and many in the community envied them. When that couple went on a vacation, the people in the community tried to go on a better vacation. When that couple purchased a boat, many in the community bought a boat that was at least as nice as theirs. Every time that couple did something, the other people in the community at minimum tried to keep up. However, it was impacting their finances and the people in the community started to feel financial strain. Eventually, that couple ended up getting divorced and instead of them dividing assets they were dividing up debt. It turns out they were living their life on credit, they were flat broke, and the people in the community were going broke trying to keep up with people who they thought had it going on.
That’s the danger of comparison. It provides an unstable point in which you compare yourself. It’s dangerous to compare your full life with someone else’s highlight reel. Think about it this way: have you ever seen a movie trailer and based on the trailer, it looked like it was going to be amazing? However, when you spend your money to see it, you realized that the best part of the movie was the carefully crafted trailer and everything else was horrible. Not only did you waste your time, you wasted your money. It’s the same with some of the things that we are comparing ourselves too. We see the highlights, and based on that highlight, we are spending our time and money trying to keep up with a horrible movie. But at the end of this comparison, we have overspent and like the wealthy people in the story, wake up and realize that you went broke and wasted time trying to keep up with something that wasn’t real.
If you compare yourself to others, you can start to feel like you are lacking something and that you need more stuff, more accolades, more attention, a better job, more money, better vacations, more praise, etc. in order to feel complete, whole, and happy. It can cause you to lack gratitude for the things that you do have and fail to appreciate the many blessings in your life. That’s a bad place to be because when you lack gratitude the things that you have can be taken from you.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:21 (ESV), “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Therefore, if you search your heart what is there? Is there a love of money? Is there a love of stuff? Is there contempt for people who you believe have what you want? The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.” You must guard your heart because everything flows from your heart, and comparison can lead to envy, jealousy, and unhappiness, which is against the will of God. God’s will is to have peace and comparison produces the opposite of peace.
If you compare yourself to others, you can start to feel like you are lacking something and that you need more stuff, more accolades, more attention, a better job, more money, better vacations, more praise, etc. in order to feel complete, whole, and happy.
Single mom guilt
I wrote a post about single mom guilt because it is so real. There is so much pressure on single moms to be super mom. We take care of the kids, work, review homework, and so much more. Sometimes as single moms, we can feel guilt because we feel like we have to be a mom and a dad, but at the same time we know we aren’t dad. This may lead us to feel like we aren’t doing enough. Recently my mentor told me that I needed to stop trying to be “supermom” and just be the best mom I can be. I need to let go of any expectation that I need to be this fictional, perfect super mom because it will just lead to stress and failed expectations.
I know that I’m not the only one who feels that way. One day I spoke to a friend of mine about how her single mom guilt leads her to overspend. Every time the holidays or birthdays for her children came around, she bought gifts as if there were two incomes coming into her household because she was scared that if she didn’t her children would feel a lack. I hear so many stories like these where moms compare themselves to images that they see on tv, on social media, married friends, or their own expectations or regrets. This leads to feels of sadness, stress, and overspending. This is why it is so important to check the temptation to compare.
In order to stop comparing you need to understand why you compare. Please note that comparing may not just lead to feelings of inferiority, it may also lead to feelings of superiority if you compare yourself to others so you feel better about your own life. Understanding when and why you compare will help you to start to recognize the situations that cause you to compare and how this manifests itself in your life. For example:
- Do you look at social media to feel better about yourself or to say horrible things to yourself about where you fall short? Do you compare yourself to a friend and then judge yourself accordingly? A good example of this is the character LaKeisha played by LaLa Anthony on the show Power. LaKeisha is good friends with Tasha and she loves her like a sister, but she is extremely jealous of her. She secretly wishes that she had what she had, and she feels bad about and lacks gratitude for the things that she has. Therefore, think about what is causing the comparison and how it makes you feel about yourself and the other person.
- Additionally, who do you allow in your thoughts and in your circle? Who are you giving control to and allowing to determine how you feel about yourself? Are you surrounding yourself with people who encourage you or drain you and say that you are not good enough? Think about the influences that you allow to determine your sense of self-worth. That is essential because you may need to find new friends, new TV shows, or even new social media followers.
If you want to stop comparing yourself to others, it seems easier than it is in practice. One of the reasons is that you first have to understand that you are doing it. However, once you are aware that you are comparing yourself to others, you must be conscious about stopping it. Here are 3 ways that you can stop comparing yourself to other people:
Spend Time In The Word Of God To Learn Who He Says That You Are
If we are to stop comparing ourselves to others then we need to first learn who we are in Christ so that we understand just how amazing we are.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV). You must recognize that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you are born again, and when that happens you are a new creation. Therefore, let go of the feelings that you aren’t good enough, you made too many mistakes in the past, you aren’t worthy, God doesn’t value you, etc. You must understand that God loves you and that when you confess and repent your sins that you are forgiven. You are a new creation, you are authentic, and you are worthy of love.
1 Corinthians 12: 14 – 20 (ESV) says,
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
This scripture tells us that God made us each unique for the body of Christ. We are not all the same. That means that He made you uniquely, distinctly, and has a divine plan just for you. That should make you shout knowing that God created you to be a unique individual and not a clone of someone else. Therefore, do not compare yourself when God didn’t design for you to be a copy.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27. I want to call out something specific in this passage. God created us “in the image of God.” He didn’t create us in the image of your favorite celebrity, your neighbor, someone you follow on social media. He created “mankind in his own image.” Therefore, the only person you should compare yourself to is the person that God has called you to be. Ask yourself daily if your actions and thoughts are moving you closer to that person or further away.
There are so many other verses that I can share that emphasize just how much God values you and how He created you to be unique. Study these verses and say them out loud until you believe just how much God has called you to be amazing and not a clone of someone else.
God created us “in the image of God.” He didn’t create us in the image of your favorite celebrity, your neighbor, someone you follow on social media.
Take a social media break
As you are learning who you are in Christ and working on understanding just how amazing you are, you may want to take a social media break. In the podcast episode, Dr. Shante talks about how Selena Gomez, the most followed person on Instagram needed to take a social media break because all of the pressures to be who everyone wanted her to be and what everyone thought about her became too much for her to handle. Think about it. If Selena Gomez, someone with influence, global fans, wealth, and power started to question her value because of social media, then what happens to us when we see these same things? Wealth and power do not protect us from insecurities and sometimes we need to take a step back. For example, a few years back I spoke to a lady who told me that she had to take a social media break because it made her question her self-worth. When I heard her speak, I was shocked because she was beautiful, had great friends, had an amazing family, and she appeared to have what she wanted. However, despite all of the things she was blessed with, she couldn’t see her blessings because all she saw was what others were doing that she wasn’t. When she realized that she decided to take an Instagram break and figure out who she was, what she wanted, and what made her happy.
Get Reacquainted With Who You Are
Getting reacquainted with who you are sounds silly because we live with ourselves every day so we believe we know who we are. But do we really know who we are? I believe that in many cases the answer is “no.” We know who other people think we are. We know what the expectations are of us at work. We know that we need to be a great mom. However, outside of these expectations and perceptions, do we really know who we are? The interesting thing is when I speak to moms of adult children or moms that went through a divorce, I’ve been told multiple times that they don’t know who they are outside of being a mom or formally a wife. These stories aren’t unique to them. I’ve talked to high achievers and outside of their success at work, they have no clue who they are.
I went through something similar. I got to a point where I didn’t know who I was outside of the expectations other people had of me and the expectations that I had for myself. Therefore, I I took a break from social media and social activities to do things by myself. I started to do some of the things that I wished that I could do that I never made time for. I read books, binge watched on TV, worked out, and other things that I thought would be interesting. Taking that time away helped me to rediscover my own individuality and who I was as a person. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like. That knowledge made me stronger as a person. Interesting, that experience or rediscovering who I was helped me to learn how to make better financial decisions. I was no longer making financial decisions based on what other people may think of this purchase or be thinking I need to have this to fit in. I made financial decisions based on the things that felt authentic and good to me.
There are so many pressures that can lead to us feeling like we aren’t good enough, and comparison to others is a way that the enemy tries to trick us into believing that we aren’t good enough. However, hold fast to the truth about who you are in Jesus Christ and hold fast to the knowledge that in Romans 8:37 (NIV), “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” You were meant to be an original – an amazing work of art in the eyes of God. Therefore, move boldly in that truth and know that you do not need to compare yourself to others.
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!