Grief Recovery - comparing

Five Hidden Traps of Comparing

Five Hidden Traps of Comparing

 “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” ~Iyanla Vanzant

We all do it: constantly compare ourselves to others. Then we base our self-worth on how we rate compared to others based on some measuring stick that either our family and/or society have imposed upon us. So, what effect does this narcissistic need to compare have upon us, our lives and our level of wellbeing?


Low Self-Worth

This seems obvious and the mother of all the others, however it is not always apparent as advertising, social media, television, and society at large can keep us trapped in this one for a very long time if not a life time. There are always going to be people who are more attractive, smarter, fitter, ambitious, richer, popular, happier, and successful (no matter how you measure it.) You name it, someone or something will be more of it, whatever it is to us. No wonder we can feel so bad about ourselves, at times feeling unworthy of love, admiration, affection, attention… the list goes on. The only real solution is to stop trying to be like someone else and focus on just being the best version of you each day. The only thing to compare yourself to is yourself, and whether you are better than you were yesterday, last week, or last year.


When we rate ourselves based on others and the bar seems so high and out of reach why bother trying, right? That can be the go to solution for many. So instead of doing anything to improve, the easier option is to just do nothing and stay the same. Then to feel accepted and better about ourselves the next step is to surround ourselves with people who are also complacent, not wanting to improve, grow or change. You all know the saying, “Misery loves company.” As much as we may look like we are okay with this, deep down there will be a discontentment that gets buried and forgotten, only to be manifested in addictions, depression, or poor health due to poor health choices.


When we judge others, we are comparing and reflecting things about ourselves we don’t like and are unwilling to acknowledge (then we don’t have to change.) Or it could be things we would like to be but are unwilling to make the effort to become. It is far easier to judge others than to look in the mirror and acknowledge our own shortcomings. In our judgment we take our complacency and suddenly become perfect while everyone else is not. It really is a trap keeping us from growing, improving or changing.


Jealousy is so close to low self-worth it reminds of me the chicken and the egg. Which came first? They feed off each other, morphing into something not necessarily good for our well-being. We don’t often see jealousy depicted as a great quality or attribute. Rather than being jealous of others, a much healthier view is to find inspiration to be, do, or achieve more in our lives. Use it as fuel to feed your desires contributing to your self-worth, as opposed to the trap of self-degradation.


How can we be happy when everyone else is so much better than us? How can we find joy in our life, or things to be grateful for when everyone else seems to have so much more to be joyful about or grateful for? How can we be content with the seemingly insignificant things in our life when everyone else has big things to be happy about? This is a big, big, big trap that many people get caught in, taking for granted so many wonderful things in their lives because they don’t compare to what others have. As soon as you find yourself feeling unhappy ask yourself what yourself what measuring stick you are comparing yourself to, and then throw it away. Find all that is good in your life and start there. Sometimes it helps to use comparison in a positive way by seeing how horrible some others have it. I would only suggest this method as a tool to kick yourself in the butt and a wakeup call to stop the self-pity.

The reality is all these traps are connected, contributing to each other. We are all unique and have our own gifts to bring and lessons to learn. The more time we spend in other people’s gardens picking at their weeds the less time we are spending tending to our own. Only view others to improve and inspire yourself to become the best version of you, living your best life. Otherwise comparison becomes an exercise in futility leading nowhere.

“Comparison with myself brings improvements, comparison with others brings discontent.” ~Betty Jamie Chung