09.17.2014

How to Stop Social Comparison

social comparison

I can vividly recall, and mark, certain transitional periods in life with events that often lead to the tendency to socially compare my achievements and/or accomplishments to others. In high school it was the college you were going to attend. In college it was what job/graduate school would take up your first several years post-grad. To be perfectly honest though, it wasn’t necessarily something that I was aware I was doing. It was almost second nature, as if “society” at large was the barometer of success. I remember numerous conversations with my parents about this and their response was that it really never ends, it’s really based on how you manage this propensity. So with that, and a lot of reflective thinking (DISCLAIMER: I’m not sure where all of this is coming from, it’s as if I hit the ripe old age of 30 and all these epiphanies just presented themselves!) I’ve put together my top ways to avoid the inclination to social compare your already fabulous life!

1. Everyone is Fighting Their Own Battle: This is numero uno for a reason. Anyone can make their life look anyway they want to make it look. Think about, when you meet strangers, or even acquaintances, what do you talk about? How terrible your job is? How much the dating scene truly bites? Maybe so, but likely not. You probably exchange the niceties, those facets of your life that you are comfortable sharing, which are in turn likely those aspects that are moving along quite swimmingly. I remember a time when I was in graduate school full time, making no money, and new people. I didn’t know any of them well enough yet and I did what I just warned against. In reality, when I got to know some of them better, I realized what I titled this point: Everyone is Fighting Their Own Battle. Beware!

2. Chose Your Friends Wisely: Point one lends itself nicely to point two. Choose friends who you can have those genuine, honest, and vulnerable conversations with. And by this I in NO way mean that you must have dark and somber relationships in which you talk about the pain and suffering of life ALL THE TIME. That would not be fun, nor is that healthy (remember, balance!). What I mean by this is that you are able to talk about something that is troubling in your life at this moment. Example? Okay. I was catching up with a friend this past weekend and the conversation naturally turned to what our expectations had been for this 30th year of life. We had a good laugh about all the ways those expectations hadn’t been met, but rounded out the conversation by talking about all the good things that had been happening too. Then we proceeded to book a trip to see each other. It was genuine, honest, real, simple, light, and fulfilling. No need to compare here.

3. Be Okay With Where You Are: It’s been a process, but learning to believe that you are where you should be in this moment has drastically decreased my need to be where “they” are. Again, I feel that a point of clarification is warranted. This does not mean “sit back lazily and wait for life to happen.” No, it means that if you go for something and it doesn’t happen then, hey, maybe you’re supposed to be right where you are. And if something good happens to your friend? That’s probably where they should be. Avoid those mind traps that say “I didn’t work as hard and she did,” or “I should have done x,y,z like she did,” because as long as you are doing all you can you’re likely where you should be. This one is a HARD one, but it can bring the most peace.

4. Throw Out Society’s Timeline: Again, point three leads into point four, or maybe the other way around. Regardless, they go together. I’ll admit it (and I KNOW I’m not the only one) I always had a timeline for myself. Graduate high school, go straight to college, from college get a career (I grappled between party planning and being a therapist… wine is cheaper than therapy right?? Kidding.), get married (of course no later than 27), children by 30 (or 3 years post marriage), and I guess ride off into the sunset into a blissful retirement. When I reflected on this plan, I got real honest with myself. I was following some hidden rule set up by some unknown person (maybe it’s media, magazines… I don’t know….). Yet there comes a time when “the plan” doesn’t work and you have to be okay with that (hence #3:)).

Moral of the story? Work hard, be honest, and trust that it will all fall into place. Simplistic? Maybe. Relieving? You bet.

{Image c/o Pinterest}

Comments

  1. Great post! I struggle with comparison often, and have to remind myself to stop and count my blessings!

  2. Annette Roberts says:

    Well said………….not always easy to relax and let go , especially if you have a competitive nature as many of us do, but important to trust yourself and to have faith that you ARE where you are supposed to be………..

  3. “Everyone is fighting their own battle.” Oh man, ain’t that the absolute truth. When I was going through training to be a counselor at my church, we did role playing each week. And, each week it had to be a new person. The one thing I took away from that experience of role playing was that everyone is dealing with someone – everyone! Such a great post. Blessings to you on this hot day in Orange County 🙂