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  • Negative Social Comparison Affecting Mental Health

    Two women discussing negative social comparison

    In psychology, it’s believed that people often determine their own self-worth based on how they compare with others in their social circle. This concept, known as social comparison theory, suggests that people constantly evaluate themselves and others in terms of attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success. However, too much negative social comparison can have a downside, especially when people see themselves as inferior to their peers. At nearly any mental health treatment center, this topic has become quite prominent in recent years.

    Research shows that individuals who frequently make social comparisons are more likely to experience envy, regret, guilt, and defensiveness, and engage in behaviors like lying, blaming others, or having unfulfilled desires. Overall, those who make a lot of negative social comparisons tend to be unhappier. Also, they exhibit more destructive feelings and behaviors. On the other hand, individuals who make downward comparisons and perceive themselves as better off than their peers generally experience temporary happiness compared to those who make upward comparisons and feel worse off.

    Ultimately, social comparisons, regardless of the direction, can diminish a person’s sense of well-being. Those who make fewer spontaneous comparisons are likely to be happier. This is because they simply don’t pay much attention to how others are doing.

    Social Media and Social Comparison

    There’s a strong link between seeking social comparison info and having low self-esteem, feeling depressed, and being neurotic. It’s unfortunate that with social media being so accessible, we often find ourselves scrolling through other people’s posts and comparing ourselves to them. It’s possible that in this digital age, social comparison and mental health are bigger concerns than ever before.

    People frequently feel down or inadequate about their own lives after spending just a few minutes on social media. Studies have even shown that Facebook can contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness, especially among younger folks who are more susceptible to social comparison. One problem with social media is that people tend to only share the positive parts of their lives, leaving out the negative experiences.

    “Smiling Depression”

    Negative social comparison can be hard to avoid on social media. As you scroll through other people’s relationships, family life, and seemingly perfect moments, it’s easy to feel like your own life is inferior. People often curate their social media feeds to showcase only the highlights, which can make others feel inadequate. Spending excessive time on social media and comparing yourself to others can quickly lead to feelings of depression.

    One modern issue related to social media use is known as “smiling depression.” This refers to individuals who appear happy, smiling, and positive online, but in reality, they are miserable. The pressure to maintain a façade of happiness can lead to depression as people strive to create an idealized version of themselves on the internet. They choose to hide the negative aspects of their lives while comparing their behind-the-scenes struggles to the polished highlight reels of others.

    Limiting and Managing Social Comparison for Better Mental Health

    It can be tough to stop comparing yourself to others in today’s world. However, it’s important to realize how damaging social comparison can be to our well-being. We need to find different ways to approach social media and reduce our natural tendency for comparison. By doing so, we can decrease self-esteem issues and depression. People who are less inclined to compare themselves with others, whether positively or negatively, tend to be happier and more well-adjusted.

    When it comes to comparison, in real life or on social media, a good approach is to see other people’s positive qualities as inspiration or something to learn from. Instead of feeling competitive or inferior, we can view someone’s accomplishments as a chance to grow. Rather than trying to be better than others, focus on being the best version of yourself.

    It might be challenging to completely stop social comparison. Why? Because it’s a natural psychological habit that helps determine our own self-worth. However, finding ways to reduce and manage comparison through positive and healthy activities can minimize its impact on our mental health.

    Mental Health Treatment At Seasons in Malibu

    Negative social comparison can clearly affect your mental health. It is important to recognize that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Seasons in Malibu provides a comprehensive treatment program for individuals struggling with depression and anxiety. Our program combines evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychotherapy, and mindfulness practices with an integrated holistic approach. We also provide relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation.

    Our team of professionals is dedicated to helping you heal while creating a safe space for you to heal in. We understand that every individual’s experience with mental health issues is unique. Therefore, we take the time to listen to your story. In turn, this allows us to create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs. Call us today at 424.235.2009 or reach out online to begin the journey to a better you.