Connecting Within ~ Meditations to help during this time of uncertainty

The comparison trap

When was the last time you compared yourself to someone and thought you fared better than the other person?

You might be thinking…I don’t compare myself to other people.  That could be true.  But, if you’re like most people, you do it without even recognizing it.  Or at least the frequency and significance of it.  And it’s likely you rarely fare better than the person you compare yourself to.

It could be your partner first thing in the morning…maybe they have more energy.  A coworker who always puts the greatest outfits together….and happens to look great in them.  Another parent whos child(ren) are loved by everyone.  The person next to you at the gym who looks like they stepped out of a fitness magazine.  The person in the car next to you at the stoplight who…has a nicer car, better hair, looks happy, sings like no one is watching.  A friend who has a better job, kids, pet, house, life….the list could go on.

Do you recognize it now?  This trap of constantly comparing ourselves in various ways contributes to, and perpetuates problems with self-esteem and relationships.

It inevitably comes up in the work I do with clients.  For them, not me 😉 .  Not that it isn’t something I struggle with at times too.

We compare ourselves and our lives to other people thinking, assuming, believing other people are happy, have it all, are stronger, better, etc.  It’s similar to the idea of the grass is always greener on the other side.

I came across this quote recently and knew I had to share it….

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel ~ Steve Furick

This is so true.  It’s why we (almost) never fare better than those we compare ourselves to.

Have you noticed that you probably don’t compare all aspects of your life to all aspects of someone else’s.  You pick and choose who and what to compare.

You might compare your state school Bachelor's degree with your friends Harvard degree.  But not the fun, exciting job with flexible hours you have with the same person’s 60+ hour stressful one.  Instead, looking at where they went to school, their “success”.  Overlooking how unhappy and stressed out s/he is.

Or, how great the “fitness model” at the gym looks, while you feel embarrassed being seen with your legs and arms uncovered.  Not realizing she struggles daily with so much insecurity she has difficulty introducing herself to anyone, leaving her feeling isolated and experiences one bad relationship after another.  While you have friends you connect with regularly and have recently met a great guy who loves your curves.

It takes a lot of intentional effort to stop the cycle of comparison.  Reading this isn’t going to change it overnight.  But, the next time you find yourself comparing, think of that person as a whole, not just the parts that seem to be better than you.  It’s also helpful to recognize the things about yourself and your life that you do feel good about.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter.

Without any doubt, I know there are things about you that others have compared themselves with and felt a little envious.  It’s time you begin to recognize those things too.

What types of things do you find yourself comparing?  How have you noticed it effecting you?

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4 comments on “The comparison trap”

  1. WOW! I actually said that out loud when I read this. Especially the quote. 🙂 I am one of the worst for this and I am only just taking notice of it now. I have even noticed I will do it not only for positive things but also negative I.e their abuse was much more severe than mine, who am I to complain.
    But the fact that not only am I comparing myself to someone completely different to me, in a difference set of circumstances, and time in their lives, but I'm comparing my behind the scenes! Very powerful indeed.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Suzanne! I love that quote too. It is such an accurate portrayal of our thinking (comparison) process. I think most of us tend to really only pay attention to the comparisons that allow us to continue to believe the negative beliefs we have about ourselves or experiences. I appreciate your participation.

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