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The Comparison Trap

by | Blog, Self-Discovery

Theodore Roosevelt had it right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Do you compare yourself to others and the feeling of inadequacy starts to creep into your everyday life? If so, you are not alone. It may seem like your friends and neighbors all have it together… their house is clean, and their kids are well behaved. Why do you feel like such a mess, and are barely holding it together?

Work, family and responsibilities seem non-stop and it feels like you just can’t catch your breath. How do you become one of those perfect families you see on social media? Is it really possible that they are that happy all the time? What am I doing wrong? How do they seem so carefree and flawless? 

Everyone seems to put the best version of themselves on social media. You see the amazing trips people take, the in-shape friend that looks amazing, the happy family moments, and the list goes on. The fact is most people are not as picture perfect as they look.  We don’t post messy stuff like the fight we just got into with our husband or the stress the unending bills are causing us.

Sometimes people are so caught up in taking the perfect picture they want to share with their followers that they miss the true joy in the event. Look past the filters that people place on their public “social media” life and you will realize most are struggling in some aspect of their lives. People often don’t post about their horrible commute to work or how boring the party they went to ended up being. All we see is that they have the perfect job or social life.

Moving Past

How do we move past comparison and use it in a healthy way? Comparison can provide direction in your life for what you want to work on. So, don’t let comparison steal your joy, but ask yourself why you feel like certain aspects of your life are lacking. Do you look at your friend who travels and wish you had that exotic lifestyle? Or do you wish you had a relationship more like your friend who always seems so happy with her husband?

Most real people have budgets, must work, and need to take care of their families. If it’s travel you crave but find it hard to have the budget or the time for it, maybe you can start planning for something big in the future and set you goal for two years down the road or a realistic time frame. Maybe trying a new trip right in your area will help you get a taste for travel without the big price tag. Maybe it’s just variety you crave.

Why do we compare ourselves? Part of it is just human nature that we are using a yardstick against others to see where we should be in life.  We can better control our emotions and relationships with our thoughts by gaining a better awareness of our internal experiences and reactions to others in our lives.

Our minds are constantly working and generating new thoughts. We can give less weight to the thought that hold us back by practicing mindfulness in our daily lives. We then start to learn that some thoughts don’t produce anything meaningful, then we can start to disregard them and choose new more helpful thoughts.

Still feeling overwhelmed and trapped in comparison? Here are some tips to help:

  • Take a break from social media, maybe a few days, maybe longer. Delete the app so you are not tempted to look at it.
  • Invest some time into being truly present in your own life. Practice concentrating on one thing at a time. For example, if you are eating lunch then taste every bite, chew up your current bite before taking the next one, truly enjoy the experience.
  • Start a journal and write down what you want to accomplish, with a road map for how to get there. Write about one step you take each day, or each week, that will get you closer to your goal.
  • Be grateful for what you do have. Write down things you are grateful for before bed each night. Go a step further and write a letter to friends and tell them why you are grateful for them. Maybe they are struggling also, and hearing something like that from you would make a difference in their lives.
  • Create a self-care plan by including one small activity a day to do that you enjoy. It could be as simple as listening to music or reading a book for the fun of it. You can plan one or two bigger events a month that may include things like a yoga class or coffee with a good friend.
  • Nature has a way of calming us. Do you have a local park by you? Take a walk in a local park or find a way to be outside with your kids or a friend. You will get moving while enjoying company or nature.

Check us out on www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information.