I thought I’d share a piece I wrote earlier this year somewhere else. Suffering from the Comparison Complex is something we may all find ourselves battling from time to time, particularly if we spend a lot of time on social media. I am reminded of the television show from a couple of years ago, “Selfie,” where Eliza Dooley is worried that her frenemy is going to outrank her on Instagram that weekend; she is told by the child she is babysitting, “Girl, don’t you know the Internet is all about illusions?” True, the Internet IS all about illusions. And Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms have made it easy for us to get caught up in those illusions and feel like our lives our less than.
For myself, I know I have to limit myself as to what I look at on Facebook. (I am still learning about Instagram, but maybe I will get the hang of it soon!) When I start finding myself feeling icky, becoming down, or hypercritical — sometimes jealousy can manifest negatively with some hateful thoughts or words — I know it’s time to take a break. And it’s easy to do sometimes, because we see people’s lives through the lens they want us to see: the happy occasions, the romantic pics gazing into each others eyes, the pics on the beach, the new vehicle, the new house — no one posts the pictures of when the garbage disposal explodes or of their partner lying in the underwear on the couch, scratching something.
So when I wrote this earlier this year, it was something I thought may apply to others, as well as just me:
Remember that time you dropped a few pounds, felt really good about yourself and then you got on Instagram to take a photo and saw a photo of one of your friends?
She had lost a little bit more than you and had on a great new outfit.
The 15 pounds you lost suddenly seemed…pitiful.
You were depressed, upset and angry that you hadn’t lost more.
“She can lose all that weight because she doesn’t have kids, so she has time to go to the gym,” you think to yourself.
“And that’s another thing – she doesn’t have children. She didn’t have stretch marks and I bet her stomach was still flat,” you think.
Before long, you’ve gone from celebrating your own success to being miserable because someone else’s success may have been a smidge better.
What your friend achieves has nothing to do with you.
It’s not going to take away from what you’ve done.
It’s not going to make you less than.
It’s not going to cause your success to be any less.
Just like what you do really doesn’t take away from someone else’s success and achievements.
For some warped, twisted reason, we seem to think if someone gets the car we want, the house we dream of, or has any type of success it’s an indicator of our failure.
We have created imaginary limitations that make us think if someone does something great, that means we have to fail.
Life shouldn’t be a competition, but somehow…that’s what it’s become.
It’s like we are in a race where only the first one across can break that finish line tape, when it really shouldn’t be that way.
I don’t even consider it a jealousy type thing. If anything, it’s more like some twisted comparison complex where we spend all day comparing ourselves to someone else and coming up short.
If it was just jealousy, it would be a heck of lot more benign.
When I am jealous, it’s because it’s something that I wish I had or could do or achieved that I hadn’t – but maybe one day would. Like I am jealous of women who know how to decorate and make the tiniest spaces look divine. I am jealous – but I am able to gush and tell them how envious I am sincerely.
When I fall into the comparison trap, I am coming up less than and trying to find a way to decrease the other person’s value in the meantime.
“She has a better job than me, and I don’t know why, she doesn’t have my education. I bet I know how she got it…”
“She’s always posting on Facebook how great her husband is…well, last I heard, he was cheating on her….”
These are some of the themes we play in our heads to justify why someone else has success or happiness. Whatever you call it – it’s just something that makes you feel like you are a total failure the size of Texas.
That’s what comparison does.
It’s like someone saying, “That’s comparing apples and oranges.”
Two totally different fruits. Some people like citrus; personally, I am not fan of either but you can dip an apple in caramel.
Does the apple worry about the orange? About the fact the orange can be easily peeled and cut into sections? Or that there are seedless varieties?
Of course not. Just as the orange does not care that the apple can be baked in a pie.
And I am not saying we are fruit, but instead of focusing on what someone else does or has, we need to focus on our own happiness.
Instead of feeling a twinge of happiness if we find an unflattering picture of them on Facebook and snickering, “I knew they PhotoShopped that photo of themselves in that bathing suit!” we can direct our attention towards the positive things in our lives.
Tearing ourselves down with a comparison complex only causes us to subsequently tear others down, just to make ourselves feel better. And it’s not working, either.
Instead, we feel worse and then guilty for being such jerks.
Next time we want to celebrate what we have accomplished, let’s just celebrate it – rejoice in what we did, how made it through something, met our goals, whatever we did.
But put the focus on that.
And let the comparison end there.
So…how do we stop the Comparison Complex? Can we?
First, limit your time on social media. I know, it’s addictive — you have to keep checking it to see what’s happened. But at the first feeling of being less than, critical towards yourself or if you feel your auric field getting clouded, take a break from your computer or your platforms.
Second, when you find yourself being critical of yourself (like thinking you are fat or look awful compared to someone else’s pic), stop and list 3 things about yourself right now you can appreciate. Can you run longer than you did last month? Are you a great listener? What are you absolutely amazing at? List those three things to bring your personal appreciation back UP and to stop the comparison.
Third, if you find yourself being critical of others, stop and list three things about them you appreciate. You will feel an energy shift when you do that! It also allows you to send them loving, gentle energy, and what we send out is returned to us three-fold…who couldn’t use that? I also recommend tweaking your news feed so that only stories and updates from those who make you happy and help keep your heart-space healthy and positive will be presented to you.
Remember: We are all different and unique. Celebrate our differences and where we each are on our journeys….we may not be where we want to be, but we are closer than we were before! If you need some help learning how to find your strengths and recognizing your accomplishments, send me a message to get in a coaching program with me!
Light & love,