How To Escape The Comparison Trap
I’d like to tell you that I was far too evolved and too secure in my self-worth to compare myself against others; that, I’d long since stopped engaging in such a futile act of self-sabotage. Alas, I cannot. It does give me some reassurance that I’m not the only half-intelligent person who’s fallen into the comparison trap. Comparing ourselves against those around is as human as it is ubiquitous.
I think it boils down to the fact that, deep down, we’re all a bit insecure and so we look around us for a frame of reference to assess how well we’re doing – in work, wealth, love and life. Psychologists call it “social comparison theory.” And while it can be helpful in motivating us to stretch and improve ourselves (e.g. to work harder at the gym or better manage our money), often it leaves us feeling like we’re just not measuring up on some parameter.
Of course if we only made comparisons that boosted our self-esteem all would be well. But if you’re like me, you’re more likely to compare your body to your marathon running friend over the latest round of contestants on the Biggest Loser.
The truth is that if you base how you feel about yourself by how you rank against anyone else, you will always find someone who is doing better than you on some measure. Until you accept yourself for where and who you are, that treadmill will never let your rest. So the question is how do we liberate ourselves from the comparison trap and redirect our energy from beating up on ourselves to bettering our lives? Here are a few thoughts.