The Comparison Trap

The comparison trap is one of the most toxic behaviors we can engage in. The idea “the grass is greener” is a wild misconception often fueled by jealous evaluation, the gateway to stress and anxiety.

When we focus on what others have or are doing, it takes away the joy in our own life and anchors our attention on what we think we are lacking or missing. Let me be clear, it is healthy to feel happy for someone’s life events (weddings, engagements, new house, travel, career, and so on). Yet, when that happiness turns into jealousy, even the slightest, you are robbing yourself of your personal euphoria.

With the rise of social media, we capture a glimpse of our friend’s “happiest”  moments on our feeds. What we do not see is an accurate portrayal of their actual life: the trials and tribulations they have faced or are facing. And thus, we only get an impression of the “good life.” When we hear of a friend’s promotion, going into comparison mode is a colossal waste of healthy energy. And let us be honest, we do not know the full extent that person endured to achieve the coveted title, and if we did, a bitter mindset would evaporate. Life always looks more glorified online and on paper, and that is something we need to recall each day.

When it comes to the comparison trap, we need to remember the joys, dreams, and goals of others are not necessarily the pursuits we think we desire for our own life.  An other’s big new home is just a giant mortgage you should be grateful not to have. Big doesn’t equate to authentic happiness. Having what you really need does. When we limelight over a pals vacation photos, rather than come from a place of envy, view it as debt you, fortunately, didn’t accrue. And look at it from this perspective, are those people who look happy in vacation photos happy at home? When viewed from this angle, the comparison trap lessens.

On my end, I am guilty of observing the “good life” of others and judging it against my resume, and that way of thinking is destructive and only dampens my self-esteem. For me, seeing other women high up on the corporate ladder has been the biggest comparison game I have battled. What I need to remind myself daily is another women’s C-level title should be my motivation and inspiration. And when realistically evaluated, asking myself if that dream title is truthfully my goal. Is any of this resonating? If so, then what we can do is contact that person and hear the practicality of their career journey. Doing this can help alter our blurred vision to a place of reality and enable us to see that the grass is not greener, it may just have better landscaping. And the fact is, her C-level title, while fancy, allows her a minuscule amount of time with her family. Is that what I want? Nope!

When we let perspective take over comparison, we learn to remain jovial for our own life journey. If you want to switch up certain life aspects, by all means, do but after proper evaluation. If you need a new job because you require more funds for basic life survival, then do it. But do not buy a big house, fancy car, or go into debt traveling because you want to showcase the “good life” brought on by comparison. That is not living. Living is continuing to learn and celebrating your life achievements, and ever so humbly.

{Mindfully curated by Debra Gudema for Well&Co.}

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