#RealTalk: Why Do We Compare Ourselves to Others?

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

You’ve probably heard of this saying, right? The old quote by then-President Theodore Roosevelt? You see writers, authors, and influencers reciting this quote almost every day. And yes, while it is motivational because well, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, it’s easier said than done.

I struggle with comparison. I look at someone that’s close to me in age and I compare. I size up all our physical features and our successes. I assume they’re smarter or prettier than me. I see all the success they may have, and I then I see all the mistakes I’ve made. Moreover, I see the choices I made (whether good or bad) and think of them as mistakes because I didn’t turn out to be exactly like the other person.

You get the picture. I struggle with comparing myself to others—as do many others, I can only imagine.

Why do we do it? Why do we compare ourselves to others? Some might say that it’s healthy to compare ourselves to others, meaning we have healthy competition and we can constantly look to other people to improve. But when you’re nitpicking on why you don’t have the job that he/she has, not living in the big city that your cousin lives in, or not yet married and wondering why in the heck you’re still single…then you’re playing the dangerous game I like to call: the comparison game. 

Before I explain the comparison game, let me first explain how comparison is healthy—it really boils down to this one point: you can look to others to see how you can improve. And that’s okay! However, this is where it gets tricky.

Say you’re hanging out with friends and all of a sudden, your best friend announces she’s dating someone new. You’re happy for her…for a second. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? What did I not do that she did?

When one starts to worry about what they eat, what classes they take, or even something simple as how they dress, then it starts becoming a problem. A dangerous problem, I might add. Worrying about what you can eat and how you dress can result in an eating disorder if you don’t talk to anyone or let it get out of control. Worrying about what classes you take or what college you go to can limit your potential and eventually dissuade you from being your best self. This is the comparison game, and you’re losing. And who is beating you? The enemy.

Who is the enemy exactly? Churches would say the devil, and I suppose they’re right. But don’t picture a shiny red devil with horns and a tail. No, I have something else in mind as the enemy. And it might surprise you.

You are your own worst enemy.

Yep, I dared to say it. You are your own enemy when you start comparing yourself to others. Vicious thoughts start attacking your mind, saying things like “she’s prettier than you” or “he’s going to a better college because he’s smarter and more accomplished.” Ouch. It hurts, right? You can try and blame external sources like Instagram or other social media channels, but really…the way you view yourself and your self-esteem is what is attacking your mind.

I’m not sitting here blaming you. This is not something you brought upon yourself. This really isn’t your fault. But letting these thoughts dictate your every move and tell you what to say and not say and not doing anything about it is not okay, either. Allowing yourself to play this dangerous game and not doing anything about it will get you nowhere. Although it’s not a step-by-step procedure on how to beat comparison, there are methods and ways to lessen your chances of comparing yourself to someone like Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

How To Beat The Comparison Game and Not Compare Yourself to the Jenners/Kardashians:

  1. Recite positive affirmations to yourself, repeatedly.
    1. If you’re anything like me, words of affirmation are your love language. When life knocks you down, don’t fall down. Say to yourself “I am enough” or “I love who I am no matter what size I am” or “if I’m not good at something, I will be good at it tomorrow.” These might be cheesy and reciting these to yourself out loud might earn you some looks in Starbucks, but they will help you. It’s as if you’re…speaking it into existence.
  2. Don’t treat your friends as competitors.
    1. When your friend announces a new job or new relationship, don’t start wondering why they’re better than you. When you do that, you start seeing them as competitors. Instead of competing and comparing, you need to be supporting and lifting each other up. Instead of focusing on why you aren’t “as good as your friend,” focus on how you can improve. Everyone is on their individual path.
  3. Strive to learn something new every day.
    1. When you do this, you won’t find yourself comparing successes. You’ll be knee-deep exploring possible topics that are interesting to YOU instead of focusing on what you don’t have and learning something to be like someone else. Learning something new can translate to improving yourself. Improve how you see yourself. Improve your health/diet regime, perhaps, if you don’t like your body. Focus on YOU and improving YOU rather than focusing on others’ accomplishments.
  4. Know that God made you in His image.
    1. God didn’t intend for you to be like someone else. He didn’t look down on you and intend for you to look exactly like Kendall Jenner. He created Kendall Jenner to be Kendall Jenner, just like he created you to be you. Believe it or not, you do have a purpose here on Earth whether it’s big or small. Every step you make in your life contributes to something; you just have to go out into the world and make those steps.

 

 

 

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