The Comparison Game

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison: A consideration or estimate of the similarities between two things or people.

Do you as I do often compare yourself to others? Feel like you are always inadequate? The act of comparing yourself to others is very painful, however yet more common than you would think.

Particularly in this generation, with the rise of social media, it has become much easier to look at, and therefore compare ourselves and lives to other people. Rather than being proactive and practicing self-care, I’ve frequently been guilty in the past of scrolling mindlessly through social media feeds and it’s simply not healthy. Not to mention is incredibly difficult to control.

Each time I begin browsing it’s almost inevitable that I will find a trigger- something that makes me feel bad about my own life- or envious of somebody else’s. Careers. Romantic relationships. Friendships. Location. Money. Holidays. Success. In almost every aspect of life I will compare, and it can strike in an instant with no warning whatsoever.

While my work campaigning around mental health has been a huge positive and has provided focus, enjoyment and purpose, it has also been a source of comparisons. Much of the people I have interacted and worked with have inspired and motivated me, however I do have a regular tendency to compare my work to others.

Despite everything I have encountered or achieved, I know that when I begin comparing all that pales into insignificance. Just one thing someone has done can fill me with envy and a sense of worthlessness and torment is suddenly thrust upon me. That little voice in my head seems to pop up at every opportunity telling me I’m going to fail and that I’ll never be good enough. ‘You’ll never achieve that’. ‘They’re better than you’. ‘Why do you bother?’ ‘What’s the point?’ ‘You should just give up’.

I’ve long been a huge perfectionist and I do believe the expectations and pressure I continue to put on myself means I naturally compare to others. Life is by no means a competition, however, I am persistently intent on doing my absolute best and anything that hits below my ‘benchmark’ seems worthless.

Everything has be to done at 100% and if not, it simply doesn’t feel worthwhile. Maybe it’s also a case of wanting to prove my capabilities to others. Not wanting people to view me as a failure or weak. Especially with my situation regarding being out of work and education, I sometimes feel as though I’m falling behind, while on the other hand, it seems like other people are making lots of progress. That can be a real knock to my self-confidence and self-worth!

Having been so largely impacted by these countless comparisons, I’ve had to enhance my self-awareness, identify my trigger points and use these snippets of information to manage the impact that comparisons have on my own mental well-being. Although it’s very much still a working progress, I’m satisfied that I’ve made minor improvements and began working more on myself. Taking things at your own pace is key.

For anybody reading this who is struggling with a similar issue, my best advice would be to limit your use of social media, identify your triggers and most importantly, focus more on yourself. Remember that you’re unique and on your own path. Life doesn’t follow a manual or script!

Thanks for reading,

Adam

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