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How to use the PIP technique to overcome toxic comparison culture

Posted by for Mental Health

Comparison culture is a big part of the way we use social media. Here, Lucy Sheridan, the world’s first comparison coach, shares a technique that will help you to stop comparing yourself to others.

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Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram after a bad day, feeling more and more resentful with every post you see that your life just doesn’t live up to the people you follow? If so, you’re not alone. Social media has been linked with increased rates of anxiety and depression, and research from the Royal Society of Public Health shows that much of this comes down to feelings of missing out and jealousy of friends and strangers who share their lives on Instagram.

Of course, comparing yourself to others is something people have done before the advent of social media. But comparison culture has thrived as our lives have moved online and it’s now at the heart of many of the debates taking place around how we can improve our relationship with the internet.

“People feel a lot of shame around comparing themselves because it comes with feelings of personal inadequacy and feelings like jealousy and envy which often feels like something to be ashamed of,” says Lucy Sheridan, the world’s first ever comparison coach. “It’s important to know that comparing yourself to others is not unusual, so you’re able to get comfortable dealing with it.” 

Lucy teaches a whole host of techniques to her audience to help them deal with comparison, via individual sessions, social media and her book, The Comparison Cure.

Here, she shares a method which is the perfect starting point for dealing with your comparison issues, called the ‘proof it’s possible’ (PIP) technique. 

What is the PIP technique?

“Finding your ‘proof it’s possible’ is a method of dissolving comparison by stopping you from getting triggered by certain people and learning to feel inspired by them,” Lucy explains.

The PIP technique involves looking for people who you admire who prove that it is possible that you can achieve your goals. “They might be 20 years ahead of you, they might be one year ahead of you – it doesn’t matter,” says Lucy, explaining that the key thing is that they have something that you would also like to have in the future.

“Comparison is based on myths, legends and lies. The PIP technique uses facts and data,” Lucy adds. She explains that it is based on a neuro-linguistic programming technique called modelling, which is a process of achieving the things you want by mastering the beliefs and thought processes that underlie other people’s specific behaviours.

“PIP helps you to reprogram your subconscious and stop comparison spirals. Your previous triggers can become inspiration,” Lucy says, adding, “you can then apply that wisdom to yourself and turn it into action.” 

How do you choose your PIP?

Lucy explains that it’s a good idea to have multiple PIPs to avoid fixation on one person. You could have a PIP for different goals in your life, like money, family and work.

“Don’t choose someone who is already a trigger for you when it comes to comparison,” Lucy says. Instead, look for new people who inspire you and who have taken the steps you need to take to get where you want to be.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out if a potential PIP is a good fit for you:

Are they someone you can study and find out more about?

“This might be a friend of a friend who you could go for a coffee with or someone you can speak to on the internet,” Lucy says. If you can establish where the contact might be, you can ensure that you can connect to them to help you learn more about them.

Do they represent what you truly want?

It’s crucial to think about whether the thing that you’re looking to this person for is something you are genuinely invested in.

“You may have inherited this desire from a family member, for example. Or, maybe it was something you wanted five years ago and you haven’t checked in with whether this is something you still want,” Lucy says. 


Can you find at least one way in which you’re similar to this person?

    “Having a connective point to your PIP will stop you from putting that person on a pedestal,” Lucy says. The similarity might be something really simple, like the way you both speak or similar interests and hobbies, but it’s important to identify this before choosing them as one of your PIPs.

    Can you find at least three ways in which they inspire you?

    The purpose of your PIP is to have a point of inspiration so it’s important to think about what it is that you find inspiring about this person and why that’s relevant to you. “Make sure they feel like someone who will fuel you to keep you going rather than making you feel lesser than,” Lucy says, explaining that it can be good to choose people who are open about how they got where they are.

    How to use your PIP to help you focus on your goals

    “Think about the things your PIP has done and which of those things you would and would not like to do,” Lucy advises. “Maybe they have secured a certain job role that you want but they have had to move to Argentina for the job, which is not something you’re interested in,” Lucy says, as an example. “Ask yourself, how can I get that same experience but find a different way to get there?”

    Lucy explains that you can take clues from your PIP and the things they have done in your life to help you realise what path you should follow, looking at things like their morning routines and life progression.

    You can write this information down in a journal and you can also have regular check-ins with your PIP to see if they are still relevant for you and your goals

    How to stop your PIP relationship from becoming toxic

    “If you find yourself getting triggered by your PIP and you start comparing yourself to them in negative ways, they are probably not a good fit for you,” Lucy says.

    “If this comparison does come up, ask yourself what’s going on with you,” Lucy says. “You might not actually be jealous of the fact that they’re on a beach in Italy with an Aperol, but resentful that you haven’t made time for yourself to rest and meet your own needs.” 

    Even if one PIP doesn’t work out for this reason, it can still be a brilliant chance to reflect on yourself, which you can learn from.

    • Lucy Sheridan, comparison coach

      Lucy Sheridan comparison coach
      Lucy is the first ever comparison coach.

      Lucy is the world’s first and only comparison coach. She helps her audience deal with comparison issues via individual sessions, social media and her book, The Comparison Cure.

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    Images: Getty and Lucy Sheridan

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