The Comparison Trap.

In the spirit of mental health awareness month, here’s a post about something that eats away my confidence and self – esteem.

So I felt this a little strongly some time last week.

The day I can remember clearly fell apart like this. I woke up as early as I should be expected to during this lockdown, which is to say around 11am. I had my plan ready; do some washing, do some reading, a whole lot more writing and some general living.

For the first two hours I was awake everything was going great. I did my washing with the music so loud and the weather in perfect agreement with my decision. After that was done, I came in to check a few messages on social media- see what the world is up to, and get on with my day.

I instead got lured in by everyone’s progress.

You are probably wondering what progress people could possibly making in this time. Well, I must speak on behalf of my friends, some great things are coming out of this lockdown.

Especially the online endeavours.

Blogs and vlogs that are making big strides in this time. People whose passions are paying off and developing at untold rates. The first thing that popped up in my head was not ‘yay, friends, you are killing it. Keep going.’ It was a shallow me-centered depressive thought, ‘and what of me!!!? Why won’t I amount to anything more?’.

I went right through the happiness spectrum, from enthusiast to downright depressed, in a matter of seconds.

I woke up so excited about the things I had planned out for my day and seeing others’ success kept me from redeeming my time. I just sulked and thought to myself, ‘oh see how better off they are. You won’t be getting there anytime soon.’

Must sound like the one talent guy from the Parable of the Talents who just went on to bury their talent like I buried my time. Ignoring to work with what we’ve got. I’ve listened to a sermon on this called Flip the Bag. Pastor Steven Furtick tells it in an interesting way, the guy with one talent was probably so excited to have his one talent till he bumped into one with more and decided to bury his instead. And he went on to say he had asked a number of people which of the three servants they think they are. I haven’t carried out this survey but I expect the answer would be the same. None of the people saw themselves as the five talent servant. We are quicker to see the ‘five talent’ in some one else than in ourselves.

But comparison is enticing right, we always want to know how we measure up against someone else. Are we doing just a little better than our neighbours? It doesn’t matter that no one is taking score, our ego will easily count the tally. And sometimes we probably assure ourselves that we are just looking (because we know how bad looking and thinking about people’s ‘perfect’ lives can be) and won’t give it more thought than we should.

Then we find ourselves coming back to it. Seeing picture-perfect glimpses into everyone’s life till our defenses against comparison are broken down. Till we can hardly breathe through the onslaught of the ‘things going wrong’ in your life. And this works the other way too, if we are looking at things that beef up our status in life.

It crossed my mind though, how silly it is for us to judge without the ‘behind the scenes’ story. Rather than fall into a slump, I could ask how they are getting there and what I need to change but the comparison trap is not always that rational.

Because I know I’m so prone to this, I take social media vacations every once in a while. When my head feels like it can’t take anymore. My mental health desperately needs this. While I’m so invested in other people’s lives, I forget (maybe not forget but just ignore) to live my own and work on my own talents.

So, that’s easy to do when they live so far from you. What about if these are your own housemates and you have to deal with their successes or failures on a constant. We are human after all right? And its easier to say that you have your own road and own journey and all those band aids we have for why life is not flowing the way you think it should! But what happens then, when you can’t run from your poor talents or can’t keep faking excitement at success leaps you deeply wish were yours?

There are two assured outcomes of comparison, either you will feel worse and inadequate or you’ll be puffed up with pride. Both of these though are poison to your mental health.

We each have our own parts to play. I think the Bible is always finding a way to put this across, with the parts of a body analogy in 1 Corinthians 12 and the jars of clay for different purposes. Pieces of a puzzle lending to a bigger Don’t ignore your uniqueness.

Pictures taken from Unsplash

24 thoughts on “The Comparison Trap.

  1. I think that’s where the focus should be, improving one’s self with our eyes kept on God. Yes, there is that overused statement of how everything happens like it should. A little lost logic there but the heart of it remains, you are where you are supposed to be in that moment in time. Keep aiming upwards.
    Thank you for reading and commenting.

    Like

  2. The grass always seems greener on the other side. Each time we give in to comparisons, we end up running the rat race. As for me, the idea is not to be lazy or complacent, to keep improving on one’s self and have faith in God’s grace. Everything else will fall in place. One thing is for sure: God’s never a late comer. When he shows up, he does so big.

    Great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I agree, all efforts should be put in improving ourselves because there is somewhere we do want to get in life. And we need to have the faith to walk in God’s timing and believe with the teacher in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Been here 😭😭
    it’s not a nice place to be !!
    Comparison is really never a win situation. It’s just best to keep your eyes on God and what He’s doing in your life( although it’s rarely as easy as it sounds)

    I also get off social media from time to time for my mental health 😭

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, in one of my letters to self I wrote it down as ‘look upward and inward but never around’. I’m glad to know am not the only one. Sometimes I feel like no one can get why I would want to ‘disconnect’. Thank you for reading, Emma.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post! I think many people can relate individually to this. Personally I deleted all of my social media apps because of this reason. I’m very confident in my self but the temptation to check on others is always lingering. And sometimes the idea to compare comes out of nowhere despite having a strong self-esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I thought so too. I think many people are put down by this but won’t admit it’s eating their esteem and killing their mental health. I applaud you on your courage to do away with all the apps. Ever get the temptation to return to them?
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The temptation came last year. I went on and immediately regretted it. Ive been off again since then and I honestly don’t see myself going back there again. There is a lot of showmanship at play.

        Most peoples intentions are never really clear.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is Beautiful!!! This is Amazing!! This is just WOW!!! A beautiful read. I love that you pointed out that comparison doesn’t have a good ending either way, both results of Comparison are basically harmful to our mental health ie feeling less than or being puffed up.
    Gosh!!! This is beautiful! So Extremely Proud of you babe.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good observations. I’ve found social media can definetly lead me into negative patterns of thinking. I think Paul’s words in Romans 12:15-16 are helpful in this sort of situation:

    “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

    If we are actively celebrating our friend’s and acquaintances’ victories, it leaves us less time for a pity party 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting Beth any. That’s a nice verse to share. I definitely want to be that friend that actively celebrates other’s victories so I’ll keep working on it.

      Like

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