The comparison trap is a common way of thinking that perpetuates unhappiness. Comparing ourselves to others is a human behavior that probably dates back to the Stone Age. But why do we do it if it makes us unhappy?
Since we are social creatures observing others is a natural thing. We look to others to observe and learn when we are small. We continue the habit as we grow up.
Trouble Starts Here
We get in to trouble when we start to judge others, and ourselves negatively. This is just another form of being hard on ourselves (and others). This has it’s roots in basing your worth as a person on external accomplishments. This leads to excuses as to why we don’t reach our goals. It also erodes our confidence that is needed to reach our goals.
I know this well as I was notorious for being hard on myself. For most of my life I hid behind constant activity, achievement and busyness. (Busyness, by the way means “lively but meaningless activity”)
Deep down I felt that if I wasn’t “doing” something productive then somehow I wasn’t “worthy”.
And the constant activity and striving was never enough. As soon as I reached a goal I didn’t even stop to enjoy my accomplishment. Every defeat was crushing because it was yet another blow to my self esteem. And yes, I constantly compared myself to others and judged why I wasn’t as good as the next girl.
The remedy for the comparison trap was to learn to be kind- first to myself and then to others.
Be kind and gentle. What does that look like? If your body hurts, pay attention to it and take care of it. Rest. Do things that make you happy. Work inside of your gifting and natural talents. Do things that make others happy and bless them. Do good things and think good thoughts of yourself and others. Speak kindly of yourself and others. Don’t put yourself or anyone else down.
If you notice others who seem to be doing better than you- remember. They are on their own journey that has a unique purpose to only them. Your purpose and journey is not and cannot be the same as theirs. So their progress, possessions, looks or life stage cannot be the same as yours either.
Social Media and the Comparison Trap
Social media has spawned a whole new level of comparison making. If I didn’t know any better all of my friends attend endless parties and their free time is spent lounging in bikinis on Caribbean beaches. Or- they are in Disneyland with their perfect children.
Avoid social media if it gives you grief seeing too many pictures of your better looking friends on beaches you want to be on. Or just “unfollow”
Compare Yourself To You Yesterday
You can make one comparison- and that is to who you were yesterday. Did you love more than yesterday? Did you laugh more than yesterday? Did you have more fun than yesterday? Did you help more than yesterday? Were you more kind to yourself and others yesterday?
The next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to others- ask yourself these questions. This is how we reach our personal best and live our best life.