Recover from Comparison in Three Simple Steps
I remember being in grade five and my best friend at the time was over at my house for a play date. This friend was an amazing person and I was often envious of her. I felt like she was charmed, everything seemed to go their way.
They were incredibly smart, likeable and talented. Whenever we played games she always beat me.
I say beat me, but they actually weren’t competitive. This person was kind and encouraging always.
This day we were playing Junior Trivial Pursuit and of course she was about to win…again.
She needed one more correct answer to finish the game. I read the question and she instantly gave the answer. My reaction was anger.
I stood up and ripped the card then hid it underneath a piece of furniture. I said, “We will never know if you got it right or not!”
I remember crying to my mom that it isn’t fair, she always wins, why can’t it ever be me?
Sadly, I don’t recall if we ever played again after that. That girl and I ended up going to the same high school but were only acquaintances there, we were never close like we had been as children.
Brene Brown shared it best by saying “Comparison is the crush of competition from one side and conformity from the other. Be just like everyone else, but be better at it.”
There is a lot of pressure to be the best in this world and I think Dr. Brown nails it by saying not only is there pressure to be the best but to do it in a way that everyone else is attempting to do it. Make sure other people are comfortable with the way you tackle your goals and life.
Unfortunately, we do not all possess the same skills, strengths and experiences to be able to accomplish all things the exact same way.
Comparison is almost always a losing battle of comparing our perceived weakness against someone else’s strengths. We never set ourselves up for a fair fight.
But our brains do this, constantly. It’s built into our psyche. Why?
If this practice of comparison is harmful to our self esteem and self concept, why is it instinctual and habitual for us?
I’m not a scientist, all my thoughts are just my own observations and best guesses. I truly believe though the purpose of comparison is to use it as a compass, not the measuring stick to assess our worth and value as a person.
The purpose of comparison is to use it as a compass, not the measuring stick to assess our worth and value as a person.
The saying goes everything is relative. We need to use the natural tendency to compare as a clue about where we are on our own map of life.
Back to trivial pursuit, why was I so upset that she won? There were no stakes, it was a board game not Squid Game.
Because I used the comparison of her winning to me not being good enough to win. I didn’t measure up to her.
When I examined why this was significant I realized that being knowledgeable, intelligent and quick thinking were traits I wanted to be identified with.
Rather than using that comparison as jealousy, I could have seen it as the guiding light to the person I was going to become. A person that was going to pursue lifelong learning, which I proudly am.
Comparison should never be judgement but simply a gently nudge to ask yourself a few questions.
Are my needs being met in life?
What do I want?
What is this telling me about where I want to go or need to go after?
How can I be happy with the way this will look in my life and on my terms?
How do we stop the envy game of comparison and start to use it as our compass and map to happy, fulfilled living?
For everything you admire about someone else find something to admire about yourself.
When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, acknowledge their achievement and then tell yourself one thing you have achieved or are proud of. Even if it is something completely different than what you are admiring in someone else. This is levelling the playing field so to speak.
Create an environment in your mind where everyone can win.
Question what you actually want or need, do the deep dig.
As a small example, you see someone with hair you love it catches your attention. You start to think how much you love their hair and wish you could wear your hair like that.
So ask yourself, do you actually want to change your hair…do you need a new style or are you happy with what you have?
Nurture yourself and your individual needs.
When you feel the envy bubble up, take a moment to sit in quiet and reflect on the message your brain is trying to tell you. Ask yourself why noticing this in someone else may be important for you.
Are there areas in your life you feel malnourished in?
How can you feed yourself and feel good about where you are in your journey?
Did you know when you look at the grass under your feet you see the grass on the backdrop of the dark earth underneath?
When you look to your neighbour’s yard, due to the angle of your vision, the grass is against the backdrop of more grass behind it. This means it looks to be more lush and green than yours but it’s only how you are looking at it. The grass only appears to be greener on the other side. Your grass may even be lusher than theirs!
It is simply the angle with which you view the situation that creates your perspective. Change your perspective and you can change how you handle comparison and envy.
I would love to hear from you and your stories of recovering from comparison. Email me at email@example.com or comment in the blog!