We’ve all been in a situation before where another woman tells us about something amazing that happened in their life or career and we start to feel the pangs of envy creeping in. Or a friend tells us about something wonderful that their significant other does or did and our brain immediately starts to wonder why ours doesn’t do the same. Or maybe a mom friend tells us about something that their kid is excelling at and we start to wonder why our child hasn’t quite gotten the hang of that particular skill. Comparing our lives to the lives of others is natural and we all do it but in many ways, it’s counterproductive and damaging to our emotional and mental wellbeing.
Comparing your flaws to someone else’s strengths is unfair because you’re not comparing apples to apples. We’re not all supposed to have the same strengths and for everything that someone else excels at, there’s something that you manage to conquer every day that they don’t. We also all have flaws and we all only have 24 hours in a day and something gets neglected or falls through the cracks for all of us each day.
It makes you appreciate what you have less. Sure your girlfriend’s significant other buys her flowers every week but maybe he never makes it home for the kid’s bedtime and she’s on solo duty most nights or contributes nothing to the running of the household while your significant other rocks at tackling household tasks. There may be another friend who has kid loves broccoli and peas while you dread mealtime planning because your kid is anti-green food, but your child sleeps through the night and theirs doesn’t. No one is perfect, including the members of our family and comparing them, their roles, duties, and accomplishments to those of other families will only diminish how awesome they are!
When we’re comparing, we often don’t have the full story. We’re taking bits and pieces from someone’s highlight reel and comparing it to our everyday life. People have a tendency to selectively brag and you often only hear about the things that they’re proud of while the things that they’re not proud of get kept under wraps. As nice as it would be to have all of the best parts of life, it's not practical or realistic and for every part of your life that you wish you could trade with someone else’s life, you would also probably have to give up parts of your life that you love!
Comparing your life to that of others makes it harder for you to enjoy the life that you currently do have and it makes you feel like crap! Unless you’re focusing on your flaws because you want to strengthen them, it’s just not a good idea for your overall self-esteem. You can spend all of your days wishing and hoping that you had aspects of someone’s life but chances are no matter how much you wish and hope, you won’t get them so rather than wasting all of your time coveting someone else’s goods, you can spend that time trying to be more appreciative of what you do have.
Choosing to stop comparing yourself cold turkey to others is far easier said than done because in many ways, comparing is the way that we gauge our successes and failures and is instinctual. We can, however, take small steps to improve. We can commit to only use comparison when it's productive and adds to our joy. We can also choose to compare ourselves and our lives to the only person that really matters (ourselves) and use it as a motivator to be better each day than we were the day before.