How often do you compare yourself to others?
There’s no avoiding it. We’re built to compare, and it’s not all bad. Comparing ourselves to others can be a motivating force, helping us embrace new challenges. But when it starts to erode our self-confidence and steals our happiness, we may be suffering from an acute case of comparison-itis.
And now, I fear, the ongoing presence of COVID-19 is making things worse. You’ve probably seen that ever-popular social media meme that reads: “Why am I comparing myself to someone else’s highlight reel?” Now, stressed at home, taking care of family and self, it’s ever more tempting to ask: “Why are they out there enjoying themselves while I’m sitting here, stuck at home?”
Comparison-itis grips us at the craziness times. When it starts to hurt, try these simple cures (no co-pay needed).
You with You
If you’re going to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you. Said Warren Buffet: “The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an inner scorecard or an outer scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an inner scorecard.”
Wrote Celestine Chua, in a piece for harleytherapy.co.uk: “Nobody needs to compare their adult body to their teenage body, but comparing your life in general now to your life in general then can be productive. Too often we forget to see how far we’ve come.”
Notes psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, as quoted in a Psychology Today piece by Rebecca Webber,: “People who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation ... A happy runner compares himself to his last run, not to others who are faster.”
Create new benchmarks
Author Joshua Becker encourages us to “desire the greater things in life. Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.”
Conduct a mood check
Before you hop on your favorite social media site, says Chua, first decide what kind of mood you’re in. She explains: “Limit social media time and avoid it when you aren’t feeling good. This can be hard, as social media is addictive. But it can also free up a surprising amount of energy and time. Not sure you want to? Give yourself a wakeup call by timing your use for the next few days and keeping a diary of what your mood is like just before and after you use it.”
Try this question
“If you feel continually as if you’re ‘less than,’” said Kathy Caprino, writing for forbes.com, “ask yourself ‘How old is this feeling?’” Your answer might surprise you.
Cultivate true friends
Explained wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, writing for verywellmind.com: “The main difference in friendly competition and the competition of ‘frenemies’ is the supportiveness factor: True friends may help motivate one another to succeed, but know that there’s no shame in falling short of the mark. Frenemies seem to delight in one-upmanship and the failure of others, while true friends aren’t fully happy in their own success if their friends aren’t right there next to them, doing well too; this motivates us to help our friends succeed, to delight in their successes, and to help them keep going in tough times, which is good for everyone.”