It happens everyday. You scroll through your feed and double tap that one model’s new photo. In it they are angled perfectly, the light bouncing off every curve and highlighting every feature.
“Wow,” you think. “I wish I looked like that.”
And then you keep scrolling, trying to ignore that slight weight in your chest for not looking the same way that they do.
Or maybe it’s less subtle. Maybe you’re at the gym for the first time in a few weeks, and while you’re struggling and sweating, you see someone lifting more weight with more ease. Suddenly, you lose all motivation to work out and you remember why you avoided the gym for so long.
Comparison: The act of estimating the similarities and differences between you and another.
Most commonly, comparison ends up being us looking at the life of someone else, looking at our own lives and then being down on ourselves for not encompassing their same look, energy or other trait we personally find of value. We do it with the clothes that we wear. We do it with the grades that we get. We do it with our relationships with God. We become insecure that we don’t have the things that others do.
On the other hand, comparison is sometimes used to fuel our own ego in a way that tears down others. In order to feel more secure ourselves, we notice the traits of others that we find value in and judge them accordingly. By doing so, we get the satisfaction of seeing ourselves as being, doing or looking “better.” Sometimes, it’s all three. Sometimes we do this because we are attempting to validate ourselves. We are ignoring the fact that there is nothing wrong with the person we are comparing ourselves to. We are blanketing our own insecurities. We are saying, “I’m doing fine because that person is doing worse.”
I’m guilty of both of these forms of comparison. And for a long time, I didn’t even realize that I was doing it. And, when I finally did become self-aware of this toxic habit that I had, I got even more frustrated. Why can’t I stop doing it? How can I help but compare myself to other people? It felt so out of my control.
As I write this, I still struggle with comparison. Even if I know better than to do so, it doesn’t make it any less difficult. Recognizing this habit means asking yourself the real and difficult questions. What is it that I am attaching my value to? What is it that I think I lack that I think this person has? Why do I want it so badly, to the point where I look for any flaw in them to make me feel better about myself?
One of the biggest things that helped me stop comparing myself to others was realizing the amount of energy I poured into doing so. How draining is it to constantly put myself down for not looking like someone else? If they are how I want to be, how is comparing myself helping me achieve this standard I have set? Is this standard even realistic in the first place? Once I recognized this, I was able to re-channel and redirect that same energy into actually taking action, and keep from sitting in my own puddle of self-pity or envy.
What I have found is that I have to intentionally choose a different perspective regarding the way I view others. I have to actively change the narrative that my mind attempts to default to. It is my responsibility to ask myself the difficult questions. I have to remind myself that it is my responsibility to change my own toxic narratives, whether they are diminishing the worth of myself or others.
Call yourself out the next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, and be gentle with yourself for doing so in the first place. Let’s do the hard work together.