Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: The danger of comparisons
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Have you ever looked over your shoulder at another person and thought, “S/he has it all together; so what’s wrong with ME?”
Or have you witnessed someone accomplishing a great feat after much endeavor, hard work and focus and thought, “Why can’t I be driven like that?”
Or have you seen someone who seemingly has a wonderful relationship, great children and a happy home and thought, “How come they have it all?”
And what about the thoughts that you may have after spending time on Facebook or other social media, which shines a spotlight on all that is wonderful about others’ lives?
It is easy to fall victim to that masked bandit of contentment – Comparison – but it comes with a very steep price! And, on top of that, our assumptions, conclusions and musings based on those comparisons are almost ALWAYS distorted and wrong! Let’s examine:
- Social Media: Remember, social media is frequently like a highlight reel of other people’s lives or experiences. It really promotes “comparison on steroids.” People may tend to showcase the aspirational, “with-it” versions of themselves – new homes, expensive dinners, exotic vacations and “perfect” spouses or children. BUT, they may not mention that the home is heavily mortgaged, the dinner was expensive but the meat was tough, the children got seasick during the exotic vacation and the luggage arrived a day late. Meanwhile, we might be home pondering why we are living a mundane life. Sure, social media has many merits – it connects us with long-lost or geographically distant friends; it gives us the opportunity to peek into our friends’ ideas, opportunities and life changes; and it allows people to build on existing relationships, create new ones and reinvigorate those that have lapsed over time. But when the comparison seeps in, it is not a good thing at all.
- The Green-Eyed Monster: When our view becomes blinded by others’ possessions, circumstances, adventures and relationships, we are headed down the highway of comparison, which may run right into the rut of jealousy. Once again, the act of comparison has the tendency to rob us of contentment with what we have, who we are and what relationships surround us because we can only see what we seemingly don’t have.
Sadly, when our look at others’ lives creates a discontent or disgust with our own lives, we’ve actually allowed someone else to serve as a benchmark for our own worth. No, no, no … we must stop it! Comparisons don’t make us happier or appreciate life more – they usually make us feel horrible about ourselves. And … that’s heartbreaking.
Let’s be aware of the notion of comparison. It is usually a losing battle, it promotes an unhealthy feeling of inferiority and it is the thief of joy. Rather, look around, see the blessings that abound and appreciate your own worth and tremendous value. Mostly, remember that God created only one “you” – He sees you as His masterpiece! That’s a WOW!