The Comparison Trap
Comparison, we all do it. Look at how nice that outfit is, I wish I had her hair, why can’t I be comfortable with public speaking, if only I could be more confident, happy, easy going, interesting…and on and on. There’s really no limit to the ways we could compare ourselves to others. But where does it get us?
The problem with comparison
When our focus is on other people; what they’re doing, their accomplishments, what they have, we lose connection with what’s right in front of us: our own life. A part of being human is continually striving for more and better, and this natural inclination gets exacerbated by messages that exist in the world (especially in our modern social media driven world). How can we feel good about ourselves when we are constantly faced with seemingly perfect, ideal, picturesque, and eloquent posts, stories, and glimpses into people’s lives? And that’s the important part. It’s just a glimpse.
We are all so complex, that no picture, post, or anecdote can adequately describe or show the full extent of someone’s experience. Even when we are presented with more complete images or stories, we often take away unhelpful slivers of ideas and thoughts, that can be boiled down to: I’m not good enough, they’re better at ____ than me, how can I become more like that…and other high pressure and self-critical notions.
Even with this blog post, I’m full of comparison and self-doubt:
Is this blog “bloggy” enough?
Is there enough wisdom, or information for people?
Is this the best I can do?
And as I reflect on my own ironic comparisons, as I write this blog on comparison, I will say this: awareness is precious. We can’t blame ourselves for striving to be better and comparing to what we see around us, but what we can do is notice when it happens, and if the impact of doing so is helping or hindering us. What if we could flip the switch on comparison, and use it as a time for self-love and reflection? If we could take the moments of comparison and reframe them as reminders to reflect on our goals and hopes, but also on what we appreciate and love about who we are, then we would be starting from a place of good enough, rather than not even close.
So rather than trying to reconcile my self-critical feelings, I’m going to take a page out of my own book and end this blog here: this is “good enough” for me, in this moment, on this day. And that’s a pretty wonderful thing.