Get out of the Comparison Mentality

Written by Dr. John Townsend

December 5, 2019

When is the last time you noticed another person’s situation, and found yourself comparing yours to theirs?  It could be about their good fortune, like buying a new home or their kids getting into their chosen college. Then your thoughts can turn to how you’re a bit inferior, or behind the curve, or just unfortunate. On the other hand, it could be about the struggles of others, such as a financial loss or a divorce.  In that direction, you can find yourself thinking that while you are sad for them, you have some level of relief that you are not going through that scenario.

It’s natural to compare yourself to others. We want to see how we stack up with them. But, what is natural for us is not always good for us. Here are some reasons why it will help you, to get out of the comparison mentality, and how to succeed in that.

You lose contentment. It’s pretty much impossible to be content and “OK” with your situation, when you compare. Think about it, when you evaluate yourself by others’ situations, you can only be as content as your ranking. If you determine that you have less “whatever” than most of your friends, you will rank yourself in the bottom half, which can lead to a lack of contentment, feelings of being one down, and even resentful. And even if you’re on the “top half” in some area, you must maintain that ranking to be OK. That is a pressure you do not want. So set yourself up with a mentality of growth and self-improvement that is about who you are, not about increasing your rankings. 

You lose control. Comparisons take time, energy and focus away from what we can control, and put them in a place we can’t control. You always have some amount of control over your choices and decisions, and how you will live your day, week and year. You can be with someone you love, spend time with your kids, engage in your work, follow your passion, and find a purpose in life. All of these are worth your time, energy and focus. But you have zero control over other people’s choices. Influence, perhaps, but not control. Comparisons keep you with your nose to the window, so to speak, wishing you could have what the other has, and not investing instead in a good life for yourself. So put that finite time, energy and focus into what you can do something about. 

You distance yourself  from others. When we compare, healthy people are turned off. They don’t like to be around the envy, jealousy and resentment that a comparing person expresses. They want to talk about what you and they are actually doing, with no rankings and yardsticks about others. Notice how much of your conversations and thoughts in a day is about the fortunes of others, and if it’s a significant percentage, ratchet it back.

You have enough to do, to keep yourself busy and productive without comparisons. Work on being the best you that you can be.

Best,

John

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