The Comparison Trap
We have all done it. We scroll through our social media feeds keeping up to date with the photos, statues and check in’s, of the hundreds (or thousands) of friends we have, and then compare.
We compare our jobs, our families, our houses, our vacations, our careers and our bodies. We compare everything.
You can’t blame us for doing so, we usually do this unconsciously – it’s human nature. Naturally we look at the people around us and size each other up.
But what happens when we do this, we associate the comparison with our own self-worth, and guess what?
You will always fall short. When you compare yourself to others, you will never win. Why?
1. You magnify your own flaws.
You see them. You’re very much aware of them. And then you pit them against your ideal [insert body part or trait here]. But you know what? No one else is noticing these perceived shortcomings – especially to the extent you do. And what else? Someone is probably glancing your way, wishing they could walk a day in your shoes.
2. Everyone else is seemingly perfect.
Look at the first point above, and flip it - we then look at everyone else as perfect. You never see the other person as having an undesirable trait. Chances are if you have small arms, you’re only looking at the people with arms riddled with muscle. If you have a little belly fat, you’re only observing those with rock hard abs.
3. You lack self-compassion and gratitude.
Self-compassion is a willingness to look at our own mistakes with kindness. It's about giving up self-judgment, but also not about letting yourself off the hook. I love the stuff.
4. It’s all a matter of opinion.
What is desirable to you, wont necessarily be desirable to someone else. And vise-versa. You will always be too soft, too firm, too big, too small, have too much muscle or not enough muscle. It’s all-relative, my friend.
5. You will always find someone who has better X, Y and Z.
When you are on the lookout for someone else to compare yourself to – you’ll always find it. Just like excuses to not attend a party or make it to a workout, for example. If you want a reason, you’ll find one.
You see someone walking by you with great legs – “god, I wish I had their legs.” The person in front of you at the grocery store has marvelous shoulders, “look at those shoulders!” When you set out to compare, you’re setting out to find someone to make you feel inferior. Why do that to yourself?
6. You’re not in your own business.
It’s your business to appreciate your body, your lifestyle, your career or any other facet of your life. What’s not your business, is observing another life through the looking glass. Nor is your body (or life) any one else’s business.
Whose business are you in?
Byron Katie says there are 3 kinds of businesses:
1. Your business 2. My Business 3. God’s Business (everything out of a person’s control – so don’t stress about it).
Alright, so when you compare, you cannot win. So what can you do?
1. Run your own race.
What do I mean by this? The only way to improve upon yourself is to not worry about the other person. You can’t control them. You only have control over yourself.
To quote Oprah Winfrey, “it's like running a race. The energy that it takes to look back and see where the other guys are takes energy away from you. Don't waste your time in the race looking back to see where the other guy is or what the other guy is doing. It's not about the other guy. It's about what can you do. You just need to run that race as hard as you can. You need to give it everything you've got, all the time, for yourself."
2. Take yourself out of the trap.
Become more aware of when you’re falling into the comparison trap. It would be naïve to say that just because you are aware of the ridiculousness of the comparison trap, it won’t happen again, because it will. But, you have a choice on how you react to the mindset trap. You can become more aware of when you’re slipping upon the trap and then take yourself out of it.
3. Get in competition with yourself.
Yes comparison it’s unavoidable, so play into it – constructively compare your past self, to your current self. And aim to be better. Better than you were yesterday, 6 months ago or 5 years ago. Just strive to be better.
Are you more aware of emotional eating habits? Making more meals at home? Working out regularly? There are countless ways to measure progress.
When you're comparing yourself to others, you're more focused on everyone else, instead of the person who matters - you.
Only compare yourself, to yourself and be the best you, you can be today.