Comparison is the thief of joy.
Really it is. Have you ever achieved something amazing or been so proud of yourself for just a moment, before abruptly ending your celebration thinking about the accomplishment of another? While it is certainly human nature to liken ourselves to our colleagues and friends, our culture encourages us to use other’s success as a reminder of our personal shortcomings. Not only is comparison the thief of joy, but I feel strongly it holds us back from our potential.
On any given day scrolling through Facebook, you might see an old high school friend with her perfect marriage (as evidenced by her most recent date night photos), a coworker who just nabbed the promotion you haven’t even applied for yet, and your daughter’s best friend’s mom who has given birth to the Gerber baby and already looks like Heidi Klum walking the Victoria’s Secret runway. It’s enough to make you want to grab the rattiest sweatpants you own, a gallon of ice cream, and a permanent seat on your couch watching every Netflix series ever created.
Hence, comparison can be a dark, stagnant place where excuses proliferate like bunnies and self-esteem fizzles out faster than the fidget spinner craze. Instead of using it for motivation and your own success story, comparison can lead to such an abundance of self-doubt and overwhelm that you just freeze in your jammies. No one is getting closer to their goals while brooding about keeping up with not just the Joneses, but every random social media contact they have.
Comparing other’s highlight reels to your reality is not even a fair playing field. The observations of other’s lives fail to show the forty-eight selfies taken to get the perfect Heidi pose, the promises of extra time on the road to get that “dream job,” or the argument prior to “perfect marriage” couple’s date night pics. We don’t know this insider scoop when measuring our truth to the partial representation of another’s. We use our insecurities to edify the qualities and accomplishments of people to then fall victim to the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough. And while we focus on everyone else, we do become a victim because we miss out on our LIFE, our crazy, amazing, authentic life.
So rather than comparing our worst to someone else’s best and constantly regretting what you aren’t, learn to celebrate you. Recognize the detriment of comparing and how it devalues what your own qualities bring. It doesn’t matter how many people are cheering you on if you are not one of them. Life is not a competition, we are here to support each other, and OURSELVES, and the sooner we realize there are no “winners,” just companions on this journey, the sooner we can live our own intentional and thoughtful life.
Take twelve minutes and listen to therapist Bea Arthur talk about the culture of comparison and how coming into alignment with yourself can change everything.