Getting out of the Comparison Trap
We live in an image conscious society. We compare ourselves constantly to others in every area of our life: work, social status, appearance, competence and stuff. No matter what we are doing we can find a place to compare ourselves to someone or even something else. The act of comparing generally leaves us on the short end of the stick. We see ourselves as “less than.” Sometimes we compare to feel better about ourselves. We find someone who is definitely worse off and realize we don’t have it as bad as “they” do. Either way, comparing puts us on thin ice.
When we compare we are looking for some kind of validation for ourselves. The problem is the validation is coming from outside of us, it’s not always accurate and we generally don’t stack up well.
If we’re looking to the outside for support or validation and get it, we feel good about ourselves. If we look at others and don’t get validated, we feel bad. Neither is beneficial. The best way to deal with comparing is to STOP. Whenever you notice you are doing it, say the word stop to yourself. Next, remind yourself that comparing is not going to benefit you. Ask what you think about yourself in that area.
Let’s say it’s your body. You see someone who looks better than you. Remind yourself that it won’t be helpful if you compare yourself to this person (which would result in feeling bad about yourself) or someone who you don’t think looks as good (which would lead to feeling better). What do you think about your body? Notice the parts you like and state why. Notice the parts you don’t like and state why. Do you have control to change the negative parts, like exercise or eating healthier? Sometimes not liking something creates a catalyst to make a change. As you think about the changes and what it would take to get there, do you want to put in the work? You might decide the work isn’t worth it and you accept yourself as is.
You can translate this same process to any area where you compare yourself to others. Practice accepting yourself or your situation, change what you can or want to, let go of what you can’t or don’t want to.