The Comparison Trap

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better than yesterday

What a simple statement and yet a profound one.

It’s easy to compare ourselves with other people isn’t it? Especially those we perceive to be doing “better” than us. It gets even more complicated when we consider different aspects of our life e.g. work/career, relationships, finances, health etc. Whilst it’s good to have positive role models, I think there is a fine line between taking ourselves in a good direction (similar to them) and trying to be someone we simply aren’t – and this is one of the areas in which the art of comparison can get distorted and become counter productive.

The truth is, that no matter how “successful” (whatever that word means to us) we are, there will always be someone seemingly ahead of us and someone behind us. No matter how good or bad life seems, we don’t have to look far to see someone else in a better situation and someone in a worse one. If “the grass is always greener” then this means that theirs is and so is ours!

So what’s the real value in spending time comparing ourselves too much with others? What does it lead to? How does it help our self-image, confidence and motivation? Does the act of comparing push us forwards or backwards? The answer isn’t straightforward and it usually depends on the perceptions we have of ourselves.

I sometimes say to myself “There’s no-one better than me, and I’m no better than anyone else”. It’s a balanced thought that works for me.

In line with the quote above, surely the trick is to think about how I can be a better version of me (tomorrow). This encourages me to dwell on what’s within my own control rather than ponder the whys and wherefores of things (and people) that are beyond it!

 

 

8 Responses to The Comparison Trap

  1. Gina Musa says:

    Interesting post Frank. Having spent years trying to be a ‘better’ version of me I have come to the conclusion that it is actually kinder to work on accepting ourselves for who we are. It’s surprising what we are able to do when we come from a place of acceptance 🙂

    • frank says:

      Thanks for your comment Gina – good point/perspective. Yes I agree that figuring out (and accepting) who we truly are deep down provides a firm foundation for real growth.

  2. Nina says:

    It’s so easy to fall back into that trap of comparing ourselves to others and wondering why we don’t have the things or the opportunities someone else has. A great reminder here that we should just run our own race, and not worry about what others are doing. As always, an interesting post Frank, thanks!

  3. Very true Frank. If I compare myself with others, such as my sister or friends or peers generally, then very quickly I feel like I’m failing and being left behind. But I tell myself we’re all different and we progress along our own paths at different speeds. As long as I’m on the right path for me to be happy, that’s all that matters. It’s not a race. Then I feel the pressure’s off and I can just be happy for other people’s success. Easier said than done though!

    • frank says:

      Thanks for your comments Richard – so true.. I particularly love what you say about being on the right personal path and that being the thing that matters – Absolutely !!

  4. What a resonant topic, Frank, in a world which is always giving us role models to imitate and stirring up our dissatisfaction with who we are (how successful, how efficient, how thin, how young, how old…). The best person we can ever be is ourselves. When I see clients achieve a sense of self – an understanding and an acceptance of themselves – they say it’s both liberating and energising: both a personal peace and energy (according to quantum physics personal peace is close to energy – please forgive non-scientific explanation). Given this, I often wonder how useful role models are….

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