I am worried my life is not going the right direction. Even though I understand I have a better life than most people, in comparison everyone else seems to be having amazing lives as is evident from their posts on social media. I feel I am missing out on good things and this makes me unhappy.
Your problem highlights a growing issue for many; the sense of despair that social comparison creates in so many people these days. Checking out how our lives ‘stack up’ against others is not new. Humans have been doing it for time immemorial. What is new is social media. Now, should we choose, we are bombarded with images that other people want to project of themselves. Invariably, we are subjected to pictures of their amazing social lives, their perfect children, their wonderfully toned bodies clad in the latest designer clothing or their perfect homes. No wonder many of us feel we don’t measure up.
But the reality is – it’s not a reality. Often what we see is a carefully crafted snapshot designed, in my opinion, to make others feel inadequate. The truth is that most people’s lives are not perfect (even if they are rich and famous). Of course, there are always going to be people who have more than us (and there are many people who have a lot less), the difference is now we have a daily, sometimes hourly window into the lives where they all seem to be having a better time than we are.
The key phrase to take from all of this is ‘should we choose’. I feel your lack of self-esteem is being compounded by your exposure to social media. Limit time you spend on these platforms. To feel better about yourself and the direction your life is taking, it’s crucial you stop comparing. Your life is your life and it doesn’t matter what other people are doing with theirs. Your job is to try and make the most of what you have got. Focus on your own life and start to value all that it brings with it. Being as good a parent as you can be, working hard to develop your talents and skills, enjoying close caring relationships with family and friends, planning experiences that will enhance your life, giving back to your community – things are part of what make us human and enrich our lives.
The only expectations you have to live up to are those you have of yourself. Take some time to make a list. On one side write down all of the positives in your life. On the other, note down two or three things you want to change and make these your focus. This way you can start to shift the balance; becoming more present in your own life rather than escaping into other people’s will help you to counter your feelings of inadequacy. It’s a cycle you need to break to feel happier.
The irony about FOMO (fear of missing out) is that all the time you’re sat there worrying about it, you are missing out. Life is now, life is precious. Embrace the real world rather than the virtual one, give yourself a pat on the back for all of the good things you’ve achieved so far and adopt the mantra progress not perfection. Hopefully then, you’ll begin to realise there’s a new type of ‘amazing’.
Russell Hemmings is a life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting. Contact Russell on 055 286 7275 or russellhemmings.co.uk. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.