November 3, 2020

Escaping the Comparison Trap

Identity Development

Do you ever find yourself caught in the web of comparison?

“Elijah has backpacked across Europe twice. That’ll never be me. ”
“I wish my kids behaved like hers.”
“All my friends my age are…”

Do any of these sound familiar? Though these may not be your exact words, a thought shaped in similar fashion may have danced across your mind at some point.

Comparison has a weird way of creeping into every facet of life. It’s lurking around as you scroll down your instagram feed. It unexpectedly makes an appearance as you interact with friends. It rears its head after your boss tells you someone else was selected for the promotion. It hides in your closet as you choose what to wear for your night out on the town.

Whenever I think of comparison, I’m always reminded of the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Whoever coined that saying must have experienced the poisonous nature of comparison, that things aren’t always as they appear. If I were to revamp this saying, it would go a little like this, “the grass is always greener on the other side until you realize it is a field of weeds.”

Does Comparison Affect my Ability to Grow?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Here are a few reasons why:

It quenches purpose and blurs vision, prohibiting your ability to wisely plan for the future.
It can cause us to align with people, places, or things that are harmful for us.
It places us in the role of a spectator, not a player in the game of life.
It can eat away at relationships, building walls of jealousy.
It diminishes self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth.
It prohibits us from living a life of contentment and gratitude.
It gravely impacts our mental health by fostering feelings of depression and loneliness.
It silences individuality, creativity, and uniqueness.
It can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and contempt for God and others.

If you have made it this far, you are probably wondering, how in the world do I kick comparison to the curb? Well below you will find a few ways to do just that.

Stop. Pause. Think.

It’s time to STOP entertaining the things that cause you to fall into the comparison trap. Get acquainted with your triggers and the situations that cause you to play the game of comparison. Triggers can be difficult to circumvent, however, pressing PAUSE and temporarily stepping away will help you to get a grip on comparison. THINK about your thoughts through moments of reflection. Creating a daily gratitude list, refocusing on God, or journaling will aid in the redirection of feelings, thoughts and words rooted in comparison.

Comparison to Praise

Praise; we all know what it is, the expression of warm approval or admiration. It’s the, “I love you,” yelled as you stand in the front row of your favorite artist’s concert. The, “great shot,” yelled after Lebron made the three-pointer for the win. Instead of getting caught in the cycle of comparison it’s time that we replace praise for comparison.

Praising Self

Now for some, this may prove to be a challenge. Your life experiences may have grafted self-loathing into your heart, mind, and speech. Expressing warm approval or admiration for yourself may be like pouring alcohol on a fresh wound. You may even feel more inclined to nitpick and over analyze every mistake. Today is the day to break free! Let’s start by identifying and affirming your strengths and the unique qualities that you possess. Doing daily “I AM” affirmations in front of a mirror will help you overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. It may be hard at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.

Praising Others

We all have an innate desire to be praised for the things we do well. Sometimes, that very desire can hold our mouths’ hostage and prevent us from showing admiration for others. Genuine praise for others can stop the comparison train in its tracks. It will rewire your mind and force you to step outside of yourself to encourage someone else. You’ll be surprised how rewarding and life giving it is to sow seeds of positivity into another person.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “comparison is the thief of all joy.” If this is true, then from here on out, we are reclaiming our joy!

If you are reading this article and feeling overwhelmed by the weight of comparison, we would love to connect with you and support you on your journey to healing and restoration. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

Written by therapist Treshana Lewis

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