What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? I know I can’t be the only one who reaches for my phone and checks social media, right? In fact, I even find myself scrolling through everyone’s pictures and status updates multiple times a day. “How can they afford that?” “Wow, they’re living their best life” “I wish I could do what they were doing.” When all these thoughts start pouring in, I start feeling self-conscious, questioning myself, and comparing my life to others’. How many of you do the same thing and how does doing so make you feel in the end? Probably not great, huh? The truth is, comparison really is the thief of joy! We lose sight of our own accomplishments because we’re so fixated on someone else’s. We’re comparing our Chapter 1 to their Chapter 15, and that’s a dangerous game to play. Whether it’s #TransformationTuesday and we’re seeing before and after photos or watching our friends’ travel adventures, we feel like our lives are lacking, like we’re behind, and it causes us to rate our happiness and our choices against the value of others’. But the reality is we’re only getting a glimpse into a life that’s been intentionally curated, filtered, and manufactured by its creator for the ‘Gram. We aren’t seeing the grit, effort, time, and energy that was required for them to level up, and that can cause serious distress. It’s also not just limited to social media…
I love my family so much, but sometimes I find some family members comparing me to my siblings or my siblings to others. I feel so much pressure to perform better, work harder, be smarter, or just be anything but me. I imagine some people think this comparison tactic pushes people to level up, that it’s akin to competition, but sometimes it doesn’t and it’s not. Sometimes comparison is counterproductive and can make people feel despondent, discouraged, and downright devastated.Comparison against other people kills. It kills dreams, it kills self-worth, it kills happiness, it can even kill relationships. Now, I’m not saying you should be complacent and that you shouldn’t push to be a better you. Of course, we should always strive for better, but I’m encouraging you to decide what that looks like for you! Sure, let’s compare ourselves, but not against someone else. Instead, let’s compare ourselves to well, ourselves. Work to be a better you than you were yesterday. Your best probably won’t be someone else’s best, and that’s okay! In the end, it’s just you against you anyway.
It can be easy to compare yourself to someone else, whether you know them or not. Some people even say comparison is an innate human behavior. Regardless, it isn’t always helpful or productive, and there are little things you can do each time you feel inclined to make a comparison against someone else:
- Notice where your mind wanders
- Acknowledge the fact that the negative or unhelpful thought exists
- Challenge it with evidence to prove it’s wrong
- Reframe the thought with the reminder that you’re only seeing one side of that person’s story
- Recognize where you are and how far you’ve come–your only competition is you
There are so many downsides to comparing ourselves to others that it’s a shame that we even do it at all because the truth is you are your own person–an individual with your own gifts, talents, contributions, and commitments to yourself and to this world. You are you and there is no one else like you. So, remember who you are and where you’ve been, and keep striving to be a better you because you’ve decided you want more, not because it’s been decided for you.