The truth is, I have always been comparing myself to other people. I don’t know if that makes me different or if everyone else does the same thing. It has just always seemed like everyone had the things that I didn’t have and those things seemed to make them special. They were more popular, had more friends or fit in better than I did.
When I was growing up the other kids had a dad and I didn’t. The other kids had the name brand clothes and I didn’t and the other kids were good at sports and I wasn’t. I was just this tall, skinny kid that didn’t seem to fit in any where. So I just assumed that it was because they had something that I did not have. So I searched for what that might be and I found myself lacking in a lot of things.
Comparing is Dangerous
And herein lies the danger of comparing yourself to others. Other people are always going to have different qualities than you have. There will always be someone that has more things than you, more success than you or more talent in an area than you do. We are all designed to have different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. So, in comparing yourself to others, you are subconsciously telling yourself that the things that are different about must be negative.
These comparisons can lead you to demoralize who you are and to minimize the wonderful things that make you special. After a period of time it is possible that these comparisons could lead to low feelings of self worth and depression. Playing with the demon of comparison is a dangerous game that will never lead to any where good.
In my examples above, the things I was comparing were not that serious but the comparisons get more serious as times goes on. Teenagers are desperately searching for ways to fit in by comparing themselves. Drugs, sex and dangerous behaviors are only a few of the ways that teens are tempted into “fitting in” with the crowd that they think had the “it” they think they need.
It isn’t Always Child’s Play
As adults, the results may not seem as serious because we are using tactics that are considered acceptable behavior. That co-worker that seems to have it all with the big house, fancy car and pool in the backyard is obviously living the good life. We want the kind of life because “if we have that then we will be happier”. So, we go into debt so that we can have that lifestyle but what we didn’t know is that the person we were comparing ourselves to is also in serious debt. The person you compared yourself to was living a lie and now you are too.
Eventually, the facade will crumble and unfortunately you will fall with it. When you fall what will you land on? Will it be alcohol, drugs or will your marriage fall apart? What will be the end result of those initial comparisons?
What started out as a child wanting a toy because your friend had one has now torn your life into shreds. How can I tie those to seemingly separate things together? Because comparing yourself to other people is a habit that is developed over time. The more you hone the skill the better you become at it until it becomes second nature. At some point, you don’t even realize that you are doing it any more. Those comparisons have become the driving force behind your life decisions.
How to Fix It
It is easy to say to just stop doing it but the reality is much more difficult. It is important to realize that this is a habit and it must be broken just like any other habit. You have to put forth a conscious effort to change the behavior.
Every time I catch myself comparing my self to someone, I step back and tell myself something positive about myself. This can be really difficult to do but it really has helped. I am finding that I do not do this as much as I used to. Oh that jealousy monster does show its ugly head every now and again. As all habits do, this one is also easy to fall into if I don’t watch for it.
We live in a time of selfies, social media posts and picture perfect lives. Our society is not encouraged to embrace our differences but are rather taught to put at filter over them and to hide them from the world.
To sum it up, life is not a status on the internet claiming how great life is or a twitter feed full of people. Life is made sweeter by the differences we each have and by the challenges we each face.
Topics of Interest
- Chronic Illness Related Anxiety
- 5 Steps to Challenge your Mindset
- My Mental Health Story
- 5 Thoughts that Impact your Mental Health
- The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others