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How Is Social Comparison Ruining My Self Worth? 

How Is Social Comparison Ruining My Self Worth?

It’s pretty much human nature for us to compare in all areas of our lives. While social comparison does get a bad rap, and rightfully so in most cases, comparisons are not always a bad thing. We compare things in order to find a better option, such as restaurants, schools, and jobs, in order to somewhat assure an exceptional experience.

The social comparison theory states that people determine their own personal and social worth by comparing themselves to others. In addition, a comparison between individuals does not always lead to wholly negative outcomes. Witnessing your friends excel can inspire you to pull up your own socks to individually level up so that you and your crew can bask in success together.

Of course, there are times when social comparison does more harm than good. Namely, social comparison can seriously ruin your self-worth if you let it. According to a research titled “Social Comparison, social media and self-esteem” (2014) by Erin Vogel, Jason P Rose, Lindsay Roberts et al, comparing yourself to someone you see as superior to yourself causes feelings of inadequacy and poor self-evaluation, which would lead to low self-worth.

7 Signs Of Social Comparison

Here are seven signs that social comparison may be ruining your self-worth:

  1. Posting a picture to Instagram, obsessively counting the likes, then not feeling confident if you didn’t get “enough”.
  2. Feeling jealousy when a friend or relative tells you good news.
  3. Feeling happy when a friend or relative tells you bad news.
  4. Browsing through your social media feeds and timelines usually leaves you feeling inadequate.
  5. Being dissatisfied with a grade, because someone received a higher grade than you, even though you know you did your best.
  6. You are constantly comparing your body to IG models, women in magazines, and basically every other woman you see.
  7. You feel like the “ugly duckling” beside your friends who you deem to be more beautiful and successful.

The Role Of Social Media

Social media, whether used daily or occasionally, has a negative impact on self-worth as a result of this comparison. Interestingly, it highlights that individuals put the very best representation of themselves on social media, leading some to compare their reality to this highly edited and distorted one by online personalities. This leads to upward comparison, where individuals ceaselessly compare themselves to people who they perceive as being better than them in any number of ways.

This can undoubtedly negatively impact the quality of individual self-worth when it appears that they somehow do not measure up. As I’ve mentioned before, an upward social comparison may not necessarily be a bad thing, as it might actually encourage us to improve. It is believed that people feel bad because they believe they don’t possess the skills, means or capability to reach that person’s level.

How To Rescue Your Self-Worth From Social Comparison

It has been suggested that when we catch ourselves making comparisons to others that leave us feeling less-than, there are certain strategies that can be employed to make a change. We can begin by attempting to adjust the trajectory of our thinking, as well as pulling the possible relevant lessons that we could learn from those we are comparing ourselves to.

What would it take for us to only engage in competition with ourselves? How about avoid seeing how we measure up against everyone else? This where goal setting becomes important. If we commit to setting our own goals and focus on achieving them well, we may find ourselves in a place where we are too focused on being proud of ourselves to compare with anyone else.

During my research, it became interesting to me to further investigate the possible role that high self-esteem plays in how individuals negatively compare themselves to others.

What is social comparison? How does it affect your self-esteem? Here are 7 signs that it is ruining your self-worth (and your life!).
Photo by Wendy Wei on

3 Ways To Improve Your Self Worth

Here are three ways to improve your self-esteem and thus your self-worth so that social comparison may have minimal negative effects:

  • Silence Your Inner Critic - Whenever a self-deprecating thought surfaces, stop it in its tracks by totally dismissing it. Go further to replace this negative thought with a more positive and encouraging message for yourself. Do not give the negative thought any shine.
  • Record Positivity - When was the last time you gave yourself some much-needed props? Write down what you appreciate about yourself in a journal (whether physical or digital) every day. You may even go a step further and have a gratitude journal. This helps to buffer the impact of social comparison. There are also apps, such as “Bliss” that asks questions every day. These questions prompt you to think more deeply about the good things in your life.
  • Accept Yourself - It’s time to accept that perfection is not possible; it is a myth after all. It may seem that the people you are comparing yourself to have everything figured out and are perfect. Online personalities, however, tend to only share very edited highlight-reels for public consumption. They too have their struggles, and that’s okay. Focus on being the best you that you can be for yourself. You deserve to shine.
  • Live In The Moment - Just try living in the moment more. Make a conscious effort to be more aware of yourself and the world around you.

Avoidance May Not Be The Answer

Avoiding social media completely may not be the best idea. Social media does have its benefits. It offers an opportunity to keep in touch with people you care about. It also allows you to make new (& genuine) connections. That being said, social media may not the cause, but could be a symptom of unsteady self-esteem and precarious self-worth. If someone with low self-worth avoids social media entirely, they may just channel social comparison in the physical world. In conclusion, social comparison can ruin your self-worth if you let it. Build your self-esteem and things become a little easier.

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