We all compare lives, whether we admit it or not.
We read blogs, share a coffee, see each other at parties, school or work – and we compare.
“She has it all together and she works/has 4 kids/runs her own business/exercises every day/always looks immaculate/has well-behaved kids/is happy.”
Choose your own ending.
But Comparison is a Losing Game
I’m here to tell you that comparison is a losing game, regardless of which side you’re on.
As Joshua Becker puts it:
“We always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions we make about others.”
Comparison is an Easy Way Out
It’s easy to compare. It gives you permission to say:
“Well, I would be able to exercise every day like her, if my husband didn’t work such long hours/if my kids slept-in/if I didn’t have to clean the house/if I could give up my job.”
“Of course I could apply for the promotion like him, if my commute wasn’t so long/if I’d been to a good school/if my parents were wealthy/if I knew the right people.”
I’m not saying these aren’t reasons. But I am saying that comparisons are a dangerous way to view yourself in the world, because inevitably, you will lose. You are giving control of your decisions over to assumptions and speculation. You have no idea what this other person’s life is really like – and it doesn’t matter.
The only good reasons for doing or not doing something come from you. Anything else is a cop-out.
Comparisons Are Irrelevant
We can’t compare our lives to the lives of others simply because:
- we are not them
- they are not us
- our kids aren’t their kids
- our partners aren’t their partners
- our upbringing wasn’t their upbringing (even if you’re siblings – we each tread a different path)
- our current circumstances aren’t their current circumstances
- our strengths are not their strengths
- our weaknesses are not their weaknesses
If you do compare lives, you’re comparing apples to underpants; oranges to hand saws; bananas to hammocks. And you’re never going to win.
Comparison Has Only Two Outcomes
By actively and repeatedly comparing yourself to others, you will always do one of two things. You will:
- feel less-than because you compare your worst to their best
- feel self-righteous because you’ve compared your best with someone else’s worst – feeding further into this negative cycle, eventually bringing you back to #1.
So, by all means, learn from other people, be inspired by other people, be instructed by them, ask them questions, seek their advice – but please, please, please, let’s stop the comparison game. You will feel more at peace, more focused on what matters in your life and a better friend, parent and partner.
Do you play the comparison game? I do. But I’m finding the more aware of it I am, and of how it makes me feel, the less I indulge my inner-torturer.