Dyslexia and Social Comparison

13th May 2021

Todays post is all about Self-belief, Confidence, Motivation and Positive Attitude.

‘The Grass is always Greener on the other side…’, ever heard of that saying? Comparing yourself or your life to others is a normal basic human instinct. It starts from an early age, think about a toddler who often thinks another child’s toys look more exciting than their own?

Quotes about Comparison of love (37 quotes)

This instinct is fuelled more within the school years going on through to adulthood. Then the circle begins again when you have children of your own.

The use of Social Media has made the ability to gaze enviously into others lives so much more accessible. Even though that ‘snapshot’ is heavily edited and filtered.

The Social Comparison Theory was first proposed in 1954 by Leon Festinger. He proposed..

“People seek accurate knowledge of the self, and that to find it, they compare themselves with similar others.”

The American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology provides a definition as follows:

“The proposition that people evaluate their abilities and attitudes in relation to those of others in a process that plays a significant role in self-image and subjective well-being.”

“Three types of social comparison are proposed in the theory: (a) upward social comparison, or comparing oneself with someone judged to be better than oneself (e.g., by having more wealth or material goods, higher social standing, greater physical attractiveness); (b) downward social comparison, or comparing oneself with someone judged to be not as good as oneself; and (c) lateral social comparison, or comparing oneself with another who is considered to be more or less equal.”

Do you do any of the above?

The motivation to compare and their effects can depend on the individuals present level of self belief and their type of mindset.

Motivation may be to:

  • Self evaluate (to get to know ones self)
  • Self improve (to strive to reach a higher goal)
  • Self reflect (to make yourself feel better or to punish yourself)

The effects could be negative or positive:

  • Can demoralise you, make you less likely to continue to pursue a goal.
  • Can motivate you to strive harder to reach the goal.
  • Other peoples’ successes may inspire or deflate?
  • Do other people’s hardships make us more grateful for what we have?
  • Can produce negative thoughts and feeling about yourself and your life.

Next time you look at a story on instagram take a moment to think of your emotions, how does it make you feel?

How does the school environment make students feel?

A school setting is traditionally a ‘Performance’ orientated environment. With ‘gold star charts on show’, grades, teaching for the outcome to pass a test/exam/S.A.Ts.

Put simply,

  • a ‘Performance goal’ focusses on achievement, competition, extrinsic motivation, displaying to others your success. Goal is to look smart or avoid looking stupid in front of others.
  • a ‘Mastery goal’ focusses on the process of learning and personal improvement, on learning not grades, on intrinsic motivation, learning for learning sake. A personal goal.

The principle has been extended to include ‘approach’ and ‘avoidance’. Is your goal to approach challenges or avoid failures?

This reminds me of the subject of ‘Growth’ and ‘Fixed’ mindset. I would refer you to a previous post: http://wordsandme.blog/2021/04/09/confidence-with-dyslexia/

A fixed mindset individual considers their abilities cannot change, they stay within their comfort zone of learning so do not take on challenges in order to avoid failure.

A Growth mindset individual considers they can improve with practice. They approach a challenge, not afraid to fail as they can learn from mistakes.

So what is your mindset and goal orientation?

Mastery/approach/growth style leads to – personal development, intrinsic motivation, perseverance, embrace mistakes, willing to take on challenges, enjoyment of the learning process, able to ask for help when it’s needed.

Performance/avoidance/fixed style leads to – fixed on the end result, competitiveness, extrinsic motivation, fear of poor performance, unable to ask for help as it shows others their weakness, unwilling to attempt a challenge, anxiety

Competitiveness or Collaboration?

Can you be happy when others talk of their successes? Do you feel envious or resentful? Can you count your own blessings, recognise your strengths? Are you able to acknowledge that not everyone is good at the same thing? Do you value help from others in areas in which you struggle? Do you see classmates or colleagues as competition or a useful resource? How are your teamwork skills, can you work within a team utilising every individuals strengths?

Discovering Yourself Quotes & Sayings | Discovering Yourself Picture Quotes

Within the classroom, or at home or on the Sports field-

  • Individuals need to feel safe within their environment whether that be their school, home or sports venue. Nothing detrimental/negative will happen within that environment when they fail and make mistakes.
  • Allow individual some choice and control over their activities and actions.
  • Teachers/parents/coaches to model successful strategies in copying in the face of failure. Acknowledging that mistakes are okay.
  • Focus on personal targets rather than class/team targets.
  • Any development reviews to be private
  • if individuals feel like a struggling small fish in a big pond, consider smaller group settings
  • Activities to develop teamwork
  • Very important to identify a persons interest and talent and allow them time to pursue this. Give tasks they enjoy.
  • To find areas they can practice personal strengths can promote positive attitudes to learning which can then be transferred to other weaker subjects.
  • Coach/educator/parent to praise a child when they practice, work hard, show improvement personally and help others.
  • Avoid punishment for poor performance or mistakes, and avoid publicly comparing one person with another in a detrimental fashion.
  • Openly demonstrate that each individuals contribution is important. Do not focus all attention on the higher ability star. Everyone has a strength which is important and needs to be identified.

Find yourself an inspiration. There are many dyslexic inspirational people out there. For example if you are a budding actress look to the likes of Keira Knightly. Find a role model out of your social circle which may remove the competitiveness but increase the inspiration. Her parents were supportive and instilled a personal work ethic that it was possible when you put in the practice. From a very early age they identified her interest and encouraged her self motivation and perseverance.

As mentioned at the beginning, how this all effects your mental wellbeing and your personal development depends on your ‘emotional foundation’.

Your level of self esteem, confidence, motivation and attitude

Without a positive sense of self and outlook on life the building blocks of learning will have a rocky foundation.

Emotional learning should be on the forefront of every parent, teacher and coach’s priority list, a solid foundation to a positive future.

And remember those instagram stories that show the ‘perfect’ life may not show the whole truth. I would welcome some more true to life stories, showing that chaos life …… but whose comparing?

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