If you are like me, you probably catch yourself frequently falling into the ever alluring, yet emotionally dangerous trap of comparing yourself to others.
While comparison can be a valuable source of motivation and growth, it can also spin us into a tail-chasing frenzy of self-doubt.
With the explosion of social media giving us access to continuous material upon which to compare ourselves, our attempts to “keep up with the Joneses” have moved beyond the neighborhood and onto the web. It's important to see the downside of using others as a benchmark for our own worth.
Here are 3 reasons why we need to stop comparing ourselves to others.
1) It's Damaging To Our Sense Of Self
Research has found that when we compare, it breeds feelings of envy, low-self confidence, and depression. Mark Twain said that "comparison is the death of joy.” As well as "downward comparison" which requires that we take pleasure in someone else's failures or misfortunes in order to feel adequate. When comparing leads you to devalue yourself or others you've entered dangerous territory.
2) What You Are Comparing Against Is Inaccurate Information
Let's face it: What people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality. For example, when someone asks you how you are doing, how often do you respond by saying, "my husband/kids are driving me crazy, I'm feeling like a failure at work, and I'm just about ready to lose my mind"? Instead, you probably bite your tongue and say, "things are really great!" A recent study confirmed that people are less likely to reveal their negative emotions than their positive emotions. Additionally, the study found that people tend to overestimate the presence of positivity in the lives of others, while they misinterpret or fail to detect negative feelings in others. So not only is what's being delivered an incomplete picture, we tend to distort the information we do receive -- a double whammy. So next time you start comparing yourself to someone else, stop and ask if it is really fair to compare when you don't have all of the information.
3) It Doesn't Actually Help You Accomplish Your Goals
Ruminating about how someone else is better looking, has more friends, or is more successful than you is both time-consuming and ineffective. Being hard on ourselves, actually zaps motivation. If you really want to live a life that feels fulfilling you need to dedicate your time and energy to your own values.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- When you imagine yourself at the end of your life looking back at what you've done, what will be the experiences and accomplishments that will have been most important to you?
- What kind of relationships do you want to have?
- What do you want people to remember about you?
Use these ideas as the barometer upon which you compare, rather than the accomplishments of those around you.
Finally, if you need to compare, compare to yourself.
We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves-not only for our own selves, but also for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. And learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
So be yourself and be cool with that! Celebrate the little things about you!
Carolyn “CJ” Silas