Happy Family at Couples Therapy Center of NJ

The Story Behind the Smiles

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, looking at your friends’ beautiful pictures with their loving spouse or happy children and thought to yourself—”I wish I was as happy as them!” Or “I wish my relationship was as good as that!”  It is something many of us are guilty of in this world of social media–comparison. You see the happy date nights, the amazing vacation pictures, and the posts about high-achieving children, and it’s so easy to think negative thoughts of comparison. Why don’t my husband and I have romantic date nights? Why don’t my family outings seem that fun? Why doesn’t my teenager post a mushy birthday message naming me as her best friend?  While falling into this comparison game is so common these days, it is also something that can be incredibly detrimental to your well being; at times it can even lead to an increase in depression and anxiety.

So, how can you work to not engage in this compelling, yet hurtful, activity?

  • Remember perception isn’t always reality. Although it is tempting to pay attention to only the “perfect” content of the post or the picture, recognize that the reality behind it is likely anything but perfect. How often do most of us take twenty pictures of our screaming kids before we get one that looks acceptable to post with a #soblessed? How often do most of us have a fight with our spouse on the car ride to that romantic date night, but decide to put it aside to enjoy a night out, and snap that picture of happy smiling faces eating delicious food? Although social media can, at select times, be used for venting, most of us want to put our best face out there. Most of us are posting the “good” moments, but it is important to recognize that it doesn’t mean those same people have just as many struggling moments as you do.
  • Work towards mindfully accepting your own less-than-perfect moments. The act of mindfulness can be useful for more than just easing anxiety. Being mindful is about being accepting of the present “as is”. In other words, not wishing it was different or better. When you are out on that family outing, it can be easy to look at the whining kids and wish they could just be appreciative. But, if you can learn to appreciate the moments for what they are-which generally include some bad AND some good-you will be less likely to fall into the comparison trap.
  • Try to be the “best you”. A lot of mental energy can be focused on comparison. You put time and energy into wishing your life were better, even judging or berating yourself for not having what others appear to have.  Plus, you’re comparing what you see on the outside of others to what you experience on the inside of yourself.  What it would be like to focus all that time and energy into yourself? If you can work on focusing on how to be the best version of yourself rather than judging yourself against others, you would likely find a lot more peace and contentment in your life. And even have time and energy to work on your own personal growth!

Staying away from comparison can increase satisfaction in your own life,  and allow you to simply enjoy the benefits social media has to offer. For more information, or help with these skills, contact us at GetSupport@CouplesTherapyCenterOfNJ.com or 908-246-3074.

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