You’re walking down the street. You pass a “fashionably dressed” person that makes you feel ashamed of your clothes and wishing you had better style. You pass a store mannequin that makes you angry your body doesn’t look that way.
You’re scrolling through Instagram. You pass a “What I Eat in A Day” video that makes you feel bad for not starting the day with a green smoothie. You pass a “mommy influencer” talking about the organic snacks she made for her children and an afternoon of crafting that makes you feel guilty about not spending time with your kids.
You’re out for a night with friends. You listen to stories of their partners and feel heavy in your own singleness. You hear about their latest home renovation and wonder whether your tiny apartment needs an upgrade. Your friend chats about her promotion and you feel a pang of jealousy that you’re not progressing “quick enough” and feel behind everyone else.
Did you find yourself relating to any of these scenarios? And the uncomfortable emotions that swirl about in these circumstances? It’s no secret that comparison lies at the root. As humans we compare our bodies, work, homes, relationships with those around us – it feels almost second nature – but when we take a step back and realize the ways it doesn’t serve us, and sparks shame and guilt, we can then be more proactive in counteracting it.
There will always be something “better” out there – and especially with social media you’re never getting the full picture to begin with (the tantrum after the snack- am I right?) So why do we compare ourselves against these false, unattainable ideals? Often because we’re under the incorrect impression that we’re not “enough” as we are. That there’s always something to work toward in our hustle culture. So we grasp at passing people and things, and lift them up as goals to strive toward.
So if we know comparison doesn’t serve us, what exactly can we do then to counteract it? Try these 3 steps:
Sometimes comparison can feel so second nature it’s difficult for us to even recognize when it comes up! So start with Identify – call out when comparison is happening in the moment. Do you feel a sudden wave of shame about your body? Is that because comparison is happening somewhere here? The more you actively identify comparison in the moment, the more you can understand patterns of where and when you engage in it.
Once you’ve identified you were making a comparison, it’s time to stop and reflect – where did that come from? How does it make me feel? What might it be pointing me toward? Is this something I want to release or hold on to?
The last step is then actively choosing how you want to respond to the thoughts relating to comparison – importantly you’re responding instead of reacting. You can choose to let it go and decide it needs no response! Or you can decide if it means you want to make a change in some area of your life, but only after you understand the root of comparison in impacting your decision-making.
In closing, I want to remind you, there is no one in the world like you! And think how boring life would be if we all looked and acted the same? Slow down. Get quiet. Make peace with where you are now. There’s nowhere else or no one else you need to be right now.
You’re more than a benchmark for comparison – you’re a beautiful, messy, complex human. Looking to explore the roots of your comparison and how to embrace your unique self? Set up a consultation with one the therapists in our practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC