When we are depressed, we tend to compare ourselves with others in negative ways. For these comparisons, we pick people who we believe are much better than us in some way, and discount comparisons with people who give us good feelings, leaving us feeling bad about our performance.
I am constantly comparing myself with people who aren’t depressed; ‘normal’ people. I think to myself that they have everything together and seem to be able to cope with the complexities of life much easier than I can. This leads to me feeling even more depressed, which does not help matters.
Social media can play a huge role in this; even though we all know instagram is just a highlight reel of someone’s life, that doesn’t stop us comparing ourselves against them; ‘look how happy they are/how many friends they have/how much money they have.’
There is actually a theory, Social Comparison Theory, that states we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making evaluations about a variety of things; attractiveness, intelligence, wealth and success. Most of us have the social skills to control any envy, however when we are depressed it can be easy for our feelings of self worth to deteriorate.
When you feel you are comparing yourself to others, the best thing to do is to think ‘am I comparing myself to someone who is on the same current level as me’ for example, if you suffer from anxiety, you should compare yourself with someone who has anxiety. This can help to reduce the negativity felt from comparing yourself to others.