Comparison; always wanting more...
I wonder how much comparison fuels unrealistic expectations? I wonder whether comparing yourself to others has increased with social media? We now stare at our direct competition every time we click on an app.
What does it look like? The perfect holiday, the perfect body, the perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clean house, perfect children, sticking perfectly to a diet, the perfect career and the list goes on...
"Comparison is an act of violence against the self" - Iyania Vanzent
When comparing to others you pretty much always come up short, you dismiss and attack your own accomplishments. When you compare against yourself, you can see progress.
Why do we compare?
I wonder if we compare when there is something/ part of ourselves that we are unsure about? That we aren't comfortable to hold or accept.... By comparing it helps us to then understand that part of ourselves, we can then define ourselves using comparison. BUT! That definition of ourselves is only in relation to the other.
"We won't be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose" Bob Goff
Yes to everything about that above quote! Through my own (on-going!) self development and client work I have noticed a shift when purpose is found. When we know what is important to us, to our lives, who we define ourselves as, then we do not need to look to others to work out how to define ourselves anymore. When you compare to others, you are allowing others to have the power. When you pull back and look at yourself, comparing just to yourself then you take that power back.
I read a study recently (Meza & Dawson 2020) in which they looked at responses to a household survey across 18 years. The researchers looked at unrealistic optimism, pessimism and realistic expectations. It may not come as a surprise that those with realistic beliefs had higher psychological well-being scores than those with both high and low expectations.
I wonder how much comparison and the role of social media in this fuels unrealistic expectations?
How to stop comparing....
What to do if you notice your happiness and well-being is being affected by comparison and unrealistic expectations? Try some of these...
Notice your wins
Compare with your yesterday not someone else's success
Surround yourself with people who recognize your value and worth rather than pull you into competition
Make a list of your unique values
What makes you feel joy? Plan more of those things
Make a gratitude list
Take a break from the sources that provoke you to compare
Meza, D,. Dawson, C,. 2020, 'Neither an Optimist Nor a Pessimist Be: Mistaken Expectations Lower Well-Being' Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin