The danger of comparing yourself to others

Do you ever wonder how other people seem to make life look easy? Meanwhile, you are struggling to get through the week… or maybe even the day.

The truth is that everyone finds it hard to fulfil expectations, take care of responsibilities and maintain a sense of happiness. Everyone has their own private struggle, it’s just we don’t see it.

Besides our nearest and dearest, we are only privy to a carefully constructed version of other people’s lives. This is the version that gets put on Facebook or Instagram; the version they want us to see.  I like to call it the Hollywood version.

The problem with this is that we then compare our own life, in all its un-edited glory, with the Hollywood version of others. We fall into the trap of comparing our lowlights with their highlights, our weaknesses with their strengths.

This is known as upward comparison and we all do it in different areas of our life (career, relationships, finances, appearance, parenthood etc.). Whilst upward comparison can inspire and motivate people, it comes at a risk. More commonly, comparison ignites low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, jealousy and relationship insecurities. Author Iyanla Vanzant even went as far as saying that “comparison is an act of violence against the self.”

It is helpful to remember that when we make these comparisons, we are comparing our inside world, with all our secret fears and insecurities, with others outside world, what they are choosing to show us. We have little idea of what secret hurts and struggles they are also carrying.

This secrecy hidden within our well composed external selves means we all continue to struggle along next to each other, but often feeling alone. The more authentic we can be with one another, the more we can build each other up and support each other through life. It is often very comforting for people to hear about the parts of you that you are hiding. It is reassuring for people to know that they are not the only one finding life hard at times.

Next time you are feeling sad, or anxious, or lonely, rather than comparing yourself to others and criticising yourself for not being as good as them, try sharing how you are feeling. If we all strive to be authentic in our interactions and what we present to the world, we may all suddenly feel less alone in our experiences and lives.

Tom Morley