It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. In some ways, this can be positive. Sometimes, when we compare our achievements to someone else, it can spur us to do better and improve our own life.
But when comparisons leave you feeling depressed, defective or inferior, this aspect of human nature can be harmful to your life. Especially if you’re dwelling on peoples’ Instagram pictures glorifying their successes.
Can you change human nature?
If the tendency to compare is fundamental to the human condition, can we really shut it down?
Maybe the point isn’t to stop making comparisons, but to simply be aware of the negative effects and work to amplify the positive.
How do you do that? You work towards minimizing the impact of comparisons. PT offers four suggestions:
1. Learn your triggers. Avoid your triggers. I don’t think that’s a wise strategy. But it is important to be aware of what makes you feel bad and why. When do you play the comparison game? Is it looking at other’s vacation pictures, knowing that a vacation isn’t in your future? Maybe you do need to give yourself space, but since you can’t simply ask all your friends to stop sharing their experiences on social media, you may need to remind yourself that “hey, they worked hard and deserve their fun.”
2. Stop comparing yourself to people’s curated life. What you see on social media is just what people want you to see. You have no idea if the person who just went on vacation went into debt or had a really good deal and so forth. The same couple who just went to Hawaii on vacation may be getting ready to announce their separation. Remind yourself that you don’t know what’s happening behind the surface.
3. Be grateful for what’s good in your life. Gratitude keeps us humble. Be thankful for what you do have, whether it’s your health, your family, relationships, maybe a solid business that doesn’t have debt, or whatever.
4. Use comparison to make a difference. Let comparison drive you to change. Instead of letting comparison affect you negatively, figure out how to take that energy and convert it into setting goals to be a better person. Make connections with people rather than comparing yourself to them. It will make a world of difference in how you see others.
I’d posit that comparisons are related to self-esteem. If you have low esteem, comparing yourself to others will probably bring you down.
It’s a vicious cycle of thinking that you’re not good enough, everyone has it better than you, so you’re not good enough. You have to allow yourself to change your thinking. And that’s an article for another day.