Sometimes, I get stuck in the throes of insecurity and exhaustion. And when it happens? I won’t lie, I get jealous. Or rather, I start to compare. Others seem like they have it so much better, don’t they?
We know it’s pointless to compare our behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlights reel. Or, as Theodore Roosevelt so eloquently put it, that comparison is the thief of joy.
We know it, and yet we keep thieving ourselves.
Looking at the proverbially greener grass on the other side of the fence, we can’t legitimately claim to know how it got that green. Our own soil may be bare, and yet so filled with potential that it may burst into glorious abundance at a moments’ notice.
The seemingly perfectly rich grass next door? What if it got that way thanks to such toxic chemicals that it’s hardly real grass anymore?
Comparison is such a slippery slope: when we compare our life to others’, we’re basing that comparison on a few extremely subjective points. No matter how well we think we know what’s going on with them, we never have the full picture.
Furthermore, when we compare, we lose the energy that we should spend celebrating instead. Great things are happening to others? That’s fantastic! Good for them! Life is not a zero-sum game. There is no need to operate from a mindset of scarcity: others’ fortunes do not and will not take away from ours.
5 STRATEGIES TO BREAK OUT OF THE COMPARISON TRAP
When comparison suddenly snaps us in, doubling down on self-care can be a life-saver, especially if we consider that our waning energy could actually be at the root of our suddenly wanting what others seem to have.
Impeccable self-care can help us get back to our center. Here are five strategies:
Find books that we truly enjoy reading
While many of us often have many books going at the same time, there’s nothing like a good fiction book that feels like a treat every time we pick it up. The key is to find something that’s captivating enough that we can let ourselves surrender completely to the story, and let it take over as much mental space as possible.
It shuts up the nagging voices in our head, provide us with great entertainment, and can help us turn things around.
Incidentally, this is also a great tactic when we find ourselves unable to sleep in the middle of the night, and thoughts suddenly start swirling. An insomnia game-changer!
Actually go to bed earlier
FOMO (fear of missing out) can go hand in hand with the comparison trap. Turning off our phones and tablets, and recording TV shows to watch at a later date instead of staying up late watching stuff which we’re often too tired to fully enjoy can make a huge difference.
Why is it that, as adults, we can all easily recognize the importance of sleep, yet when it comes to implementing better habits, we usually falter? We all have a rebellious tween firmly ensconced in a part of our brain, who keeps yelling “You can’t make me!” when we start telling ourselves that it’s time for bed. The thing is, we don’t have to listen to that voice.
We can easily get our nose stuck in the unpleasant nitty gritty. By taking a step back, looking at the whole picture and then refocusing on what’s good—this is where a solid gratitude practice comes in handy—it makes it easier to put things back into a healthier perspective.
Sometimes, stepping way way back is required, and it’s ok. By being able to reconnect what we’re going through with the whole of the human experience, we can recognize that we’re never alone.
Try new stuff
It feels a little counter-intuitive to try new things when we’re feeling low, as we tend to seek comfort in the familiar, but it can work wonders. Exploring unfamiliar avenues—whether it’s a new food, a new type of movement, a new activity or even new music—can get us out of our head.
And having the ability to look back at a diversity of experiences, and be able to say “Hey, I did that!” is pretty priceless.
Use a mantra
When we’re in the throes of comparison, it can be hard to pull ourselves away—like velcro that resists being pulled open. One that I like to use to snap myself out of it, so to speak, is this one:
I am enough. It’s all enough. Just do me. My rhythm is mine.
No matter where we are in this journey, I think it’s important that we recognize that suddenly finding ourselves in the comparison trap doesn’t make us bad. When we recognize it as a sign that something’s up, and that we may simply need extra care, it becomes an insightful tool, like many others!
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