The Torture of Comparison…and Ways to Transform It!

Comparison. It’s a form of measurement and we learn it early in life.  

Kids quickly learn to compare themselves to other kids. We learn it from our teachers, family, friends and media. “That person is smarter than I am. They have more friends than I have. The entire class can run faster than I can. Their parents have more money than my parents.”  

And we tend to compare ourselves to peers – those who feel like competitors or those who have some likeness to us. (e.g. similar age range, socio-economic, geographical or cultural likeness)  We are more likely to compare our lives with our neighbour down the street or our co-worker down the hall rather than with the distant escapades of a child prodigy, celebrity or royal family.  Instead, we are entertained or even inspired by those who are farther away or non-threatening to our sense of self. 

The funny thing about comparison is that for every person who is doing better than you, there is also someone who is doing worse.  The comparison ladder has true information in both directions – it just depends on whether you are looking up or looking down!

Benefits of the Comparison Habit

Of course, occasionally noting your place on the ladder of human potential can be a humbling and useful thing. It can help you see inspiring visions of what is possible while also maintaining gratitude for what you do have!  

Another way that comparison is useful, is that it can be a learning tool. As we review ourselves in comparison with others, we can better see our uniqueness and learn to appreciate the variety on this planet or we can see new ways to evolve if desired!

Dangers of the Comparison Habit

But very often, comparison is not fair or helpful.  Comparison tends to create both inferiority AND superiority complexes within us.  A billionaire can look up the ladder and see that there is a trillionaires’ club above their head and a millionaires club below their feet.  Whether it’s comparing our finances, fame, physical appearance, happiness or health with someone else’s bounty, it can become an endless torture chamber.  

You may have heard about the exponential growth of social media-induced inferiority complexes (like the Pinterest-driven sense of inadequacy that many women have reported feeling).   On many platforms, we are exposed to an endless stream of videos or images of people who seem to be “doing better” than us.  Yet there is also a stream of people sharing their life challenges on social media – which reminds us that many are also having a tough time and it can trigger feelings ranging from increased compassion to overwhelming guilt or injustice.

Even comparing your current self with a former version of yourself can be debilitating.  As we age or change, we may need to adapt to new conditions that bring out different sides of our psyche and skills. If we compare ourselves against our formerly youthful, wealthier or healthier self, we may become ashamed of where we are now.  Even though we are only trying to maintain our former capacity, we may feel inadequate or self-loathing!

If you are aware of your Comparison Habit and want to change it, here is a wonderful path of transformation:

Instead of turning someone’s success into a reminder of your failure or inadequacy, change the associated thoughts!  Choose thoughts that empower or expand your energy, rather than allow thoughts that criticize or contract you.  It’s not about “whitewashing reality” or being blind with delusions; it’s about choosing how you want to feel and how you want to act.

Here are 9 of my energetic practices to transform the Comparison Habit:

1)  Look upon those who are “in the flow” as wonderful role models and possible mentors for you.  (even from afar)  Let their lives inspire you to persist and grow yourself.

2) Comparison involves a lot of “judgment” so it helps to recognize that every person has come from different circumstances and has different things to learn in this lifetime. No matter what you’ve witnessed, there is usually a lot more to the story so try to refrain from assuming how easy or hard, how fair or unfair it is for you or for others. Instead of judgment, practice deeper compassion for the many private challenges that you and every human has in this life.

3) Celebrate the successes that you see out there.  It’s proof that it’s possible. Seeing great wealth or health is a reflection of the pure potential on this planet. Instead of Comparison, practice “Compersion” – the joy that you can feel when witnessing someone else’s joys and successes!

4) See another person’s success as a vehicle for more peace and well-being in the world!  The more abundance or joy you witness in people’s lives, the more those energies are spreading on this planet.  See their story of success as a positive step for the whole world!  Their well-being means one less soul is suffering.

5) If you feel guilty about your wealth or health because you are comparing yourself to the “less fortunate”,  remember that your poverty or illness will not help them either. Your happiness does not take away from anyone else’s well-being; your happiness transmits a vibration of peace on this planet and makes you more likely to be kind and generous.  And again, your well-being means one less soul is suffering and that benefits everyone.

6) Relieve the comparison-induced “FOMO” (fear of missing out) by focusing on your own life force and what you can experience in the now moment.  Be present and find the meaningful beauty in that moment to release this FOMO kind of anxiety.

7) Release attachments to your “former” self by exploring the unique teachings of where you are now in your life.  What insights are calling for your attention? What deeper compassion or understanding can you grasp from this chapter?

8) Instead of comparison or competition, think about collaboration and connection.  Look for ways to co-create with others – those who have more AND those who have less.  Together, you can build upon each other’s strengths, reduce the pain of each other’s struggles and complement each other’s resources.

9) When you find yourself comparing, stop the thought train that is headed towards “Not Enoughness” (I’m not good enough or I don’t have enough) and shift your focus to what you appreciate about yourself and your life.  Find the blessings of where you are right now, lay your head down on a beautiful bed of Gratitude and learn to transform your Self-Criticism with Self-Acceptance.

I hope these practices will help you ease the habit of Comparison and stop the erosion of your self-esteem.

When you notice yourself going down the rabbithole of Comparison, you can choose a new thought or action!  It is possible to stop yourself from traveling down the competition, jealousy or shame paths if you embrace the habit of Compassion.

P.S.  Download a printable PDF of the 9 Energetic Practices to transform the Comparison Habit by right-clicking HERE and save to your favorite device!

P.P.S.  If you are on the path of being TRUE to yourself, I’d like to invite you to become a member of the School of Enchantment!  Find the Octopus (sign-up form) on the right side of this page and join today! Every month, you’ll receive guides or videos (made with love from the Mermaid Lagoon) for unconventional and creative souls – about the art of finding your magic and sharing it with the world!

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