Have you ever noticed how simple acts can quickly invoke feelings of envy, failure, anxiety, or insecurity? Things like going to a particular website, reading a social media post or even noting what clothes or cars people have may be examples. Social comparison is common and one of the reasons we have these emotions is because we care. We care about doing a good job, we care about looking like we are competent and likable, we care about being “good enough” for others. Caring is not a bad thing! It’s how we go about it that can cause some unwarranted emotional suffering.
We often cope with anxiety through avoidance. Immediately x-ing out of that website, discontinuing following a thread on social media, or maybe judging someone with a nice car. All can be forms of avoidance in some capacity. The thing is, we think that by avoiding the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that come up for us, the better we will feel. Is this an experience you have had? Or does it just come back the next time you’re faced with the same situation?
I often process with clients on the helpfulness of leaning into these important yet uncomfortable emotions. What I mean by leaning in is to have an openness and curiosity about your thoughts and feelings. Really peeling back the layers of that complex emotional experience. Is it possible social comparison is telling you about an aspect of your life you’re uncomfortable with? Or think you could be doing better? Maybe it’s about a friendship, or how you treat your staff or ways you can improve your creativity. Or maybe it’s not. Perhaps the social comparison is giving you clarity over your values in helping you understand what’s actually important in your life. Either way, we won’t know unless we go there and have an openness to those emotions.
Being Good Enough
So then how do we deal with those uncomfortable emotions and thoughts about ourselves after we’ve been open and curious about them? Depending on what came up for you, you can always use these questions as learning opportunities. What do I have to learn from this experience? This is where you can take different actions that are in line with your values. For example, you could consider reaching out to the person you were feeling insecure around and ask about how they got to where they are or ask them to mentor you. You could click Like on that social media post that contributed to feeling some envy and congratulate that person on their success. You could make changes to your product or service so that it’s even more improved for your client or customer. You can journal every day about your gratitude and how you are already good enough!
Doing personal growth work can often be relieving. Even just a few therapy sessions may help you peel back those layers, receive clarity and move on with your good enough self. If you’d like to consider talking to one of our therapists, just click HERE and get scheduled for an appointment that works for you!