In an era of infatuation, obsession, and distraction with social media, our society has been influenced to the point of no return.
The age of the internet has brought society so much access and discovery, but also much pain: a lot of which has contributed to the depletion of individual self-worth and self-image.
Everyone has had heard something along the lines of “social media is fake,” and this is something that has perpetuated the struggle of measuring our self-worth on the amount of attention we receive, and/or on the number of likes we get on a photo – we see only what others choose for us to see.
Everything has been selected and curated in a particular way. When the power is in the hands of individuals to paint themselves however they wish, individuals can’t fight the urge to compare themselves to what they see on social media.
This is something all too familiar to Melissa Ambrosini, who has made it her life mission to rid herself of the psychological pain that social media may trigger, as well as help others heal from it.
Known as a self-help guru, Melissa is a best-selling author from her published works Mastering Your Mean Girl, Open Wide, and PurposeFULL.
Melissa is also a host of her own podcast, The Melissa Ambrosini Show.
She has been a trailblazer with her work, as she breaks down the culture of social media and addresses its illusions while offering tips on how to break free from the habit of comparing yourself to others.
As someone who always looks for the gold in every situation, Melissa inspires her readers and listeners to reclaim their power and to live with intention.
She finds joy in helping others find peace in their individuality and guides them to live as the best version of themselves.
We spoke with Melissa about her newest book release “Comparisonitis: How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others and Be Genuinely Happy,” where she uncovers how the age of social media and its off-setting thought process has driven so many to unhappiness and low self-esteem, as well as how to liberate yourself from the toxicity.
GLAMOUR: What does the term comparisonitis mean?
Melissa: The dictionary defines ‘comparisonitis’ as the compulsion to compare your accomplishments to someone else’s in order to determine your relative importance.
And the truth is, we’ve all experienced it. All it takes is the hint of someone doing or having something you perceive as 'better' than you, and it hits.
Your brain starts spinning with toxic thoughts about yourself (or others), and you're left feeling depressed, ashamed, guilty, with your confidence in tatters and your self-worth plummeting… not fun!
GLAMOUR: How damaging can the act of comparisonitis be?
Melissa: It can lead to a whole range of negative outcomes — including depression, anxiety, overthinking, envy, guilt, regret, defensiveness and eating disorders.
And unfortunately, instead of moving away from this toxic culture of comparison, it seems that as a society, we’re leaning into it more than ever before.
GLAMOUR: It’s Mental Health Awareness Month - what did 2020 taught you the most about the importance of wellness and inner-peace?
Melissa: 2020 was a wake-up call for so many of us that we need to take care of our mental health just as much as our physical health, and that it’s OUR responsibility to do that.
Things like meditation, yoga, spending time in nature and taking time out for ourselves are so important for our headspace and I know that for me, they need to be done daily.
GLAMOUR: What inspired you to switch career paths and become a self-help guru?
Melissa: It wasn’t a ‘choice’, as such. Back in 2010, I was working as an actress and professional dancer, when I started having huge mental and physical health problems.
Eventually, I hit rock bottom and ended up in hospital, with my body basically in crisis mode.
I knew that if I didn’t make a change to my life - including the work I was doing, which was slowly eating away at my soul - then I’d never be able to get well and happy again.
From there, I started listening to my intuition (something I’d never done before). I was very interested in health and wellness, so I started studying holistic nutrition, and the second phase of my career grew and evolved from there.
It’s been quite a journey and I’ve learned so much along the way (though I certainly don’t think of myself as a ‘guru’!).
I’m pleased to say, my work these days makes me happier than anything else I’ve ever done before. In fact, it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ at all!
GLAMOUR: social media can be the ultimate unifier, but it can also be our downfall. Is there a balance - and if so - how do we achieve it?
Melissa: This is a topic that *everyone* should be talking about, especially when you consider that the average person will spend six years on social media over their lifetime, and a total of ten years looking at their phone.
So we need to be taking action on this right now! (That’s why I devote two full chapters to this topic in the book — it’s that important!)
One of my favourite tips to revamp your relationship with social media is what I call ‘The Highlights Hypothesis’, which states that what you see on your newsfeed is a carefully curated highlights reel.
It’s not an accurate reflection of everyday life. So don’t be tempted to compare your everyday life with someone else’s highlights reel.
Recognise that people put a lot of effort into choosing what they share, in taking and enhancing their images, in carefully crafting, writing and editing their posts, and that they only reflect a fraction of that person’s life.
Put simply, your life is real, while social media is a highlights reel. If we could all remember just that one fact, we could eliminate a lot of worry and angst!
GLAMOUR: What do you hope people most take away from your book?
Melissa: My wish for everyone reading the book is that they remember how truly incomparable, magical, amazing and unique they are.
I want them to understand, on a heart and soul level, that there is no need to compare themselves to anyone else, and that their role here on Earth is simply to be the best, most authentic version of themselves possible.
GLAMOUR: How do you practice mental health and prioritize wellness?
Melissa: Prioritizing my mental health has become second nature to me now. I know that I can’t take it for granted, so I’ve grown to truly enjoy the practices that nourish my mind and spirit.
That includes things like meditation, time in nature, yoga, breathwork, eating healthy, going to bed early, setting boundaries with my devices, surrounding myself with inspiring people and doing work I love.
What is the balance for you between physical and mental health?
For me, they are two sides of the same coin, and I honour them both equally.
Many of the activities I do for one area also benefit the other, which is wonderful and means you’re getting a double return on the time you invest in yourself. #winning.
GLAMOUR: Working in the entertainment industry, you must have felt enormous pressure to look a certain way. How did that impact you mentally, and what did you do to not get lost in that?
Melissa: My whole career, I’ve worked in industries where there’s a huge emphasis on how you look.
As a dancer, actor and TV presenter, then later on, as an ‘influencer’, my body has always been a focal point.
Earlier on, in my teens and twenties, I definitely did fall down the trap of obsessing over how I looked, and comparing my body to other people.
It was destructive, and led to some very unhealthy habits, disordered eating, and even mental health issues.
I had to make a deliberate decision to change things for myself, because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be robbing myself of joy forever.
Learning how to stop comparing my body to other women’s bodies has actually been one of the biggest learning curves of my life, and was a huge reason why I wrote this book in the first place.
The transformation I experienced was so life-changing, I knew I needed to share what had worked for me, so that others could benefit from it too.
GLAMOUR: Best tips for people to start ridding themselves of comparionisits?
Melissa: The simplest place to start is with a method I developed called the ACES Technique.
This 4-step technique is a simple but genius framework which underpins all the other tools and tactics you’ll find in the book.
You can go through these four steps whenever you find yourself spiralling into toxic comparison, or beating yourself up because you don’t “measure up”.
It will jump you out of those negative, toxic feelings quick-smart!
Here are the four steps:
Choose a different path
Shift your state
(They’re easy to remember, because you’ll feel ‘ace’ once you end the cycle of comparison!)
Here’s the nutshell version of each of the steps
Step #1. Awareness - Like with so many aspects of growth and inner work, awareness is the first step. You have to become aware of any areas in which you are comparing yourself.
And the tricky thing is, comparisonitis is a master of disguise - sometimes you won’t even know that you’re trapped in the cycle!
(I provide heaps of examples in the book, so you can get really clear on which behaviours are rooted in toxic comparison.)
Step #2. Choose a different path - The next step is to make a decision that suffering is NOT what you want for yourself in this moment, and to choose a different path instead.
Rather than falling into those toxic, heavy feelings, what do you want to experience instead?
What could you invite into this moment that might facilitate peace instead of suffering? You might like to frame it as “I choose X”, for example — I choose peace. I choose happiness.
Step #3. Eliminate - If you can, eliminate the trigger that’s caused you to spiral into comparison. Are you on social media? Then get off your device.
Or perhaps reading a magazine is what has triggered your comparison?
Then close your mag and put it out of sight. Sometimes, you can’t “eliminate” a trigger. In that case, you can either ‘Exit’ (walk away from the situation that’s triggering you) or ‘Exhale’ (breathe out long and slow, and get super present in your body).
Step #4. Shift your state - Now that you’ve become aware, chosen a different path, and eliminated the trigger, it’s time to shift your state to a lighter, higher vibration.
The fastest way to do that is through movement — dancing, stretching, walking, swimming in the ocean, whatever.
Even just tensing all the muscles in your body for twenty seconds, then releasing them, can do wonders for your energy.
So that’s the ACES Technique. It’s super powerful, and the more you practice it, the quicker you’ll be able to vault yourself out of comparison and into a better-feeling energy.
And if you want targeted techniques for ending body comparison, social media comparison, and heaps of other specific areas of comparison, I share plenty of highly effective strategies in the book.