When we compare ourselves to others we take away some of our own happiness. Sometimes we get so caught up in what other people have that we deplete ourselves of all joy. I’ve written before about the dangers of facebook and the way people are left comparing themselves to others. While social media outlets contribute to the way we make comparisons I am also talking about the way this happens in real life. What happens when we compare ourselves to friends, family members, colleagues, and people we know?
Often times we compare where we are in this particular moment in life to where someone else is in his or her own life. An example of this would be the way someone (we will call this person Joe) compares his financial situation to someone else who is the same age. Joe feels like his colleagues have more money because they own property while he still rents a studio apartment. Joe gets stuck on the comparison and forgets about the active choices he has made. He loves to travel and goes on a huge vacation every year. He also loves living on the Upper East Side. Joe chooses to stay in a studio apartment because it allows him to live in a neighborhood he loves and has not considered buying property because he spends his money on trips. If Joe solely focuses on the financial comparison he can easily forget that he is enjoying his life too.
Sometimes we might be comparing someone’s current moment to a moment from our past. A friend of yours starts wedding planning and you’re left wishing you did things differently for your own wedding. Your cousin has a new baby and you start to question the way you comforted your own child when they were a newborn. Your colleague drops weight after being on a diet for a few weeks and you’ve been struggling to lose five pounds for the last year. Suddenly you are brought back to a different time in your life and begin questioning the choices that you made in the past. Trust yourself. There were reasons you made certain choices in the moment. Appreciate your choices and recognize what was going on for you in that previous moment. Furthermore, try to respect the person you’re comparing yourself to without placing judgment on them or on yourself. It’s okay if something different works for someone else. Think about why your choices worked or didn’t work for you and grow from the experience.
We can all fall into this trap of comparison. Unfortunately, the presence of social media leaves us falling deeper and more often. If you’re able to catch yourself while it’s happening think about stepping away from social media for at least a day or two. If a particular person in your real life stirs up some difficult feelings consider taking a step back from them until you can sort through what’s going on for you. Alternatively, you could try talking to them. Maybe they will admit they compare themselves to you and then you can both recognize what you each have.
It may feel difficult to stop comparing yourself to other people. It may take time to realize that you deeply hurt yourself whenever you compare where you are in your life with where you think someone else is in their life. You don’t know what struggles the person you’re comparing yourself to is facing. It’s important to acknowledge the way you are robbing yourself of joy when you compare to those around you, both through social media outlets and in real life. Try to appreciate what you have. Recognize that everyone has their own journey. Once we stop comparing ourselves to others we can live in the moment and better appreciate what we have.