Are You a Victim of the Comparison Trap?

Comparisons are only natural and serve an important purpose. We learn a great deal from observations of our environment and make hundreds of decisions every day based on all the information we take in from the moment we wake up. Making sure we fit into all the settings throughout our day requires immediate comparisons and adjustments in order to meet our goals.

When does forming comparisons become unhealthy or lead us away from the happy, well-adjusted person we strive to be?

I suspect you have noticed that little green monster raise its ugly head from time to time. It happens to me when I scroll through social media too long and watch portrayals of the glamorous lifestyles of others. Once I start thinking of all the ways I don’t measure up, I know I have strayed off course. It’s easy to question why we don’t have all the things we see around us or the success of others that surely should be ours, right?

This is extremely common, especially in our Western culture. If we didn’t have that drive to improve and succeed, we would simply exist. Life would be no fun.

But, chasing that ideal lifestyle typically costs much more than money. Obtaining more things and attempting to fill that bottomless need to measure up to an ideal form of success can lead us to lose our joy and sadly, our self-respect.

What are some ways we can find balance? First, becoming aware of the tendency to compare ourselves resulting in feelings of discontent and the desire for much more than we have is important. Next, review your own goals and values. Do you really want to compete with your neighbors or even people you barely know? The truth is, many of the people and possessions we idolize are very different than we imagine. The sacrifices, stress, or piles of debt behind those bright smiles can be deceiving.

If we cultivate compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves and remember life is about more than the accumulation of things, we can gain balance. It is also wise to limit the amount of time spent on sources that cause undue comparison. Consider the company you keep. Spending time with materialistic, self-focused people can pull you further down while time spent helping others and seeking to lift others up lifts you in turn. Real joy and peace come from discovering a sense of purpose and loving your own journey.

Next time you compare yourself with others, remember to keep your self-respect in check. A grateful heart is a content heart.

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