Lately I’ve been thinking about how we use quick social comparisons to temporarily boost our mood and functioning. Because in the absence of our own measures, we grasp for the most convenient ones.
I caught myself doing this just last night. Minutes after we had put our daughter to bed, I remembered a story I’d heard about another child’s bizarre sleep schedule. I started to tell husband this story, but then I stopped and thought.
What am I trying to accomplish here? I was trying to boost my mood by comparing my parenting choices to another’s.
Psychologists have studied how upward social comparison can motivate you to achieve more, and downward social comparison can help you feel better about yourself. This is how many people end up mommy-shaming, Internet bullying, and worshipping celebrities. But what gets lost when these strategies become our automatic way of managing our distress or uncertainty?(more…)