How To Avoid The Pitfalls Of Comparison
Are you constantly comparing yourself and what you have? Perhaps it seems that everyone is better than you in some way? If this is you, don’t worry. Comparing is a normal human behaviour that drives us to find our place in the world and to understand who we are. However, when we focus too much on what someone else has that we don’t, it can cause issues to our self-esteem, relationships and personality.
What type of comparisons do you make?
There are two main types of comparisons;
The first type is downward comparisons. We use these when we feel bad and want to remind ourselves that things could be worse. For example, when you’ve had a bad day, you may tell yourself that someone else has had a worse day. It is a way to boost confidence and self-esteem when it may have had a knock. In some ways, this type of comparison helps you to see the bigger picture and may help you to have more compassion for others.
However, if you repeatedly make downward comparisons, you are only building yourself up based on the misfortune of others. As a result, your self-esteem is precariously balanced. If you focus on downward comparisons, you are waiting for the next misfortune to feel good. This is not only a negative attribute to have, but it also means you completely forget to bring yourself into the picture.
Downward comparisons don’t focus on your own personal strengths, positives and successes. They merely focus on the downfall of others.
The second form of comparison is upward comparisons. This is where you focus on the strengths and successes of someone else. You compare yourself to someone that you perceive is better off. Upward comparisons can help to inspire us to meet our goals and motivate us to get to where we want to be.
More often than not, however, upward comparisons can cause issues such as jealousy, envy and low self-esteem. We create unrealistic standards for ourselves which, even if we try to achieve, they are unlikely to be healthy or sustainable choices. Seeing a slim model on Instagram may push us towards a crash diet, for example. Perhaps a billionaire on Twitter says they work for 18 hours a day to build their success will encourage others to adopt a similarly unhealthy lifestyle too.
Whichever comparison you make, it is wise to recognise it for merely being a matter of perspective. The image you have of others is just one view. Everyone’s lives are so much more complex than what they might portray. It is important to remember that everyone is human, and each person has their successes and their shortcomings too.
The pitfalls of comparison
Comparisons aren’t equal
So, you may think that someone has a better car, fitter physique or more money than you. But, this doesn’t mean that it is a true comparison, or that their whole life is better than yours. Many people will try to portray ‘perfection’, especially on social media. However, this is nothing more than an illusion. You don’t know how many times someone had failed before they were successful. You also don’t know what that person is envious of. It may well be the attributes that you have.
Remember, it is not possible to make an accurate comparison with anyone. Everyone has a different story.
Comparison = dissatisfaction
You’ll always be able to find someone that you think is prettier, smarter, more skilled, wealthier or more successful than you. However, by comparing these attributes, you may find that you are becoming dissatisfied with who you are and what you have. This makes it harder to be grateful for what you have and difficult to be confident too.
If your comparisons are motivating you to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, then that’s great. However, if they make you unhappy and dissatisfied with yourself, then it is time to switch off and focus on the most important being; you.
Comparisons are uneven playing fields
How can you accurately compare yourself to someone who has had a very different journey to you? In most cases of comparisons, we tell ourselves that we are not trying hard enough. However, we forget that the advantages someone has may not be the same as our own. If you struggle to lose weight while your friend is super-slim, are you considering the differences between you? Perhaps they have a faster metabolism or are adopting unhealthy lifestyle choices that are not sustainable?
Comparisons can ruin friendships
We should be supporting our friends with every single venture. However, so often, we use our friends to benchmark our lives and evaluate ourselves. Your friend may seem to have it all sorted with marriage and children. However, they could be so envious of you for being free and able to travel and have adventures without as many commitments.
When we compare with friends, then the friendship can become strained as they become a rival. A friend shouldn’t be someone you want to beat. They should be someone you want to build up. So, if you feel envious of what they have, remember things have a habit of evening out. Things that seem unbalanced will usually switch. Furthermore, with their success, they may enable you to reach yours.
How to compare healthily
Firstly, forget about everyone else and only compare with yourself. Self-improvement is the key to success and doesn’t rely on others as a benchmark. You only have to depend on you.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the positive changes you have made compared to the ‘younger you’. If you believe your former self had it better, then start to troubleshoot why that is. My recent post on how to recommit can help with this.
When you start to compare with yourself, you know you are taking your whole self into account. So, if you worry that you used to be able to run 10k with ease but are struggling with the weekly Parkrun, think about the things that have changed in your life. Perhaps you have more stress, are not sleeping well or are not devoting enough time to exercise and rest?
When you are solely looking at yourself for answers, rather than what someone else is doing, you can begin to remove any obstacles that are in your way. You can then focus on the goals you really want to achieve.
So, forget others; it’s time to focus on your personal best.
Are you struggling with comparison envy?
If you find it impossible to stop comparisons or comparing is causing negativity in your life and relationships, then hypnotherapy can help. Together, we’ll find the cause of the issue, and then I will develop a bespoke plan to rid you of the comparison demons so that you can focus on yourself, improve your self-esteem and enjoy a fresh and healthy approach to comparisons. To find out more, then email firstname.lastname@example.org to book in your free, personalised consultation.