Theodore Roosevelt put it clearly when he said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Whatever you achieve, whatever you obtain, there will always be someone, somewhere who has done better. If you compare yourself to others you are continually sabotaging your happiness. Yet most of us do it, most of the time. How can you stop this draining habit and start being positive about your life?
Be clear about:
- The illusion of perfection
THE ILLUSION OF PERFECTION
Perfection is an unrealistic ideal, but the special effects and airbrushing in today’s media make it seem common. And you only have to look around you to see things that seem ‘perfect’. Maybe your friend has perfect skin, your neighbour a perfect garden etc. When we see what appears to be perfection it’s all too common to assume that the person who displays this has a perfect life.
Everyone likes to make a good impression, and it’s easy to be taken in, especially if your self-esteem is wobbly. So your friend, with the perfect figure and seemingly perfect home and family may appear to you to be, well – perfect. This may make you feel unhappy, because it’s an ideal to which you can’t aspire and you may slip into imagining that their life really is flawless, when underneath they may be very unhappy, their relationship may be loveless and they may have huge debts!
So note TIP NUMBER ONE: Appearances are deceptive. Never be taken in by them and never compare yourself with an image.
It’s natural for human beings to be competitive, but in these days of social media, where so many people spend hours scrolling through highlights of other peoples’ lives, it’s almost become an obsession. Everyone wants to get the most ‘likes’
However, when you think about it, how can living your life according to the superficial ‘likes’ of others have anything at all to do with fulfillment? Who is going to post on Facebook something they feel embarrassed or ashamed about? Comparing yourself to someone else’s showcase is like comparing yourself to a dummy in a shop window – just nonsensical!
Now note TIP NUMBER TWO. Try leaving off social media for a while, or at the very least cutting back on it drastically. Spend your extra spare time thinking about what most triggers your habit of comparing. Make a commitment to spot this and nip it in the bud, in the future.
VANITY AND BITTERNESS
When you compare yourself to others inevitably you end up tending towards one of two unpleasant attitudes. When you see people who are worse off than yourself, have achieved less, are less attractive, rich or successful, then that can stimulate your vanity. But does that make you feel good? It may give rise to a superficial feeling of smugness, but only for a while.
Sooner or later the very attitude that gave rise to the smugness will lead you to make another comparison, this time with something better. Then that superior glow fades, and is replaced by a feeling of bitterness. You find yourself resenting the fact that fate hasn’t given you gifts that someone else enjoys.
Now note TIP NUMBER THREE. Focus on all that you have, all that you enjoy, all that you’ve achieved. Think about the people you love, the activities that bring you pleasure, the achievements that fulfil you. Let yourself be wrapped up in warm feelings about all of these things and feel yourself glow with gratitude. The more you fill up your mind with such positive thoughts the less room there will be for comparisons.
LOSING YOUR COMPASS
If you’re bombarded by the attributes and achievements of others, you may feel dazzled and diminished. How on earth did so-and-so manage to get a degree in Pure Mathematics? Or become a concert pianist? Or get elected to the Council? You may feel so inferior that you lose sense of yourself and forget one important fact – you never wanted to do boring old maths, or play in an orchestra or cope with the posturing of politics!
Comparing yourself to others can disconnect you from your natural purpose in life. It can prevent you from finding it in the first place, or even believing that you have a purpose! However, we all have a natural talent, a niche, a reason for being here. This purpose will usually be something you enjoy, and that flows. Yes, you may have to put in effort, but that effort will not be strain. Your purpose may not be flashy, but in the scheme of things it matters, and your contribution counts.
So note TIP NUMBER FOUR. Comparing yourself to others can make you forget what you like to do and stop you creating, and working towards goals. Take the energy that goes into comparing and turn it towards identifying what you’re good at and what you love. Have a list of ambitions and the steps you’re going to take to achieve them. Focus on this, not on what others have succeeded at.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve seen how the illusion of perfection, social media, vanity and bitterness and losing your direction can arise from comparing yourself to others and looked at tips to avoid this. If your self-esteem is low you may need a boost to turn you in the right direction, to kick the habit of comparison and be positive. That’s where our wise Readers come in – so TIP NUMBER FIVE is put in a call today and start on the road to freedom from self-doubt and feelings of inferiority.
PUBLISHED: 20 November 2017