On Overcoming The Comparison Trap

Sunday, February 4, 2018


Part of my mission to release this year is to not compare myself to others so much. I'm guilty of it more often than I'd like to be. I know that "comparison is the thief of joy" and yet I still do it. I can't help it.

Comparison is a dangerous hole to fall down. It's a trap that tricks us into not being happy anymore, even when we were just a minute ago. Even when our circumstances didn't even change.

You were thrilled about your promotion at work until you found out that one of your good friends has a higher salary, and suddenly the promotion isn't worth celebrating. You're blissful in your relationship until you hear about your friend's engagement, and suddenly you're unfulfilled. What you were once perfectly satisfied with or even excited about suddenly isn't good enough, simply because you measured it up against someone else's life.

When you think about it, it's actually pretty silly that we give other people so much power over how we feel about our lives, isn't it? What do their choices have to do with us anyway?

Comparison, and letting it influence our emotions, is essentially rooted in insecurities and the shoulds in life. Feeling like you should be doing something else because That Person is, even when you're happy doing what you're doing.

Social media is no help when it comes to this.

The High School Years are commonly thought to be a Very Insecure Time, which is true. We transition into a bigger school with more people than we're used to, try to make friends despite being very awkward, plus we're growing up physically too. Despite all of that, though, for me, it wasn't my most insecure time. There was no Instagram or Snapchat to make me feel like everyone was having more fun than me. There was Twitter, but not like there is now. When I had Twitter in high school, my circle of friends treated it like a giant group text, and no one else ever really read or cared about it.

I compared myself to other people the most in my college years, because social media was very prominent then. It was hard not to get other people's lives flashed in my face. Plus, in college, we're still growing up and figuring life out, only we're considered adults because we're over 18, so it's actually super easy to doubt and compare ourselves more then than we did in high school. And once we graduate, there's the Engagement, Marriage, and Baby milestones that we'll watch other people hit before us, which are prime comparison territory.

My point is, we're all vulnerable to the Comparison Trap. It's not something we really ever grow out of. But I've thought about it a lot and I've come up with something that just may be the key to overcoming it, or at the very least, dealing with it.

The key is asking yourself, Do you want whatever it is you're comparing your situation to?

If you do, great. Start working toward that. There's no need to feel bad about it in the process.
If not, then who cares? Isn't it stupid that we would ever feel jealous or envious over things we don't even want in the first place?

When talking about being envious of somebody else, the usual piece of advice is that you don't know what their life is actually like. They make a good amount of money at their job but maybe they don't even enjoy it. They just got engaged to their boyfriend but maybe they aren't even that happy. While it's true that there's much more to a person's life than meets the eye, our source of comfort should not come from, Hey, their life might actually suck, so don't worry about it.

Is that how we are going to reassure ourselves? Will we only feel better about our lives if we find out that someone else's isn't that great? It's not the nicest way of thinking, and it also means that if that person really is happy and doing well, we're screwed.

We shouldn't feel threatened by anyone else's decisions. They don't affect us. Another person's success doesn't equate to our failure.

Next time you feel yourself falling down that hole, ask yourself, Do you want it? And if you do, go get it.


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