Last weekend, one of my BFF’s sent our group a photo taken back in 1987. When I first looked at the photo my feeling was gratitude- the four of us are still in pretty constant contact with one another (text chains- long, amazing, gratifying text chains). But my second thought was to compare 1987 me with 2020 me…
Yeah- that’s not a good road to go down.
So I quickly realigned my thoughts to the good, happy, these are my friends for life thoughts…
Alas, the thought of me and my younger days brought about another thought: A few years ago, another college pal, a guy asked me:
“Back in the day were you upset that your best friend was super attractive and all the guys liked her?’
My best friend was, and still is super attractive. And she has about the best personality- fun and adventurous and really the best college best friend possible, as well as lifelong friend.
But essentially, my friend was asking if I was envious of having a great looking friend.
Which means, did I often compare myself to her.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
As many stated yesterday, people compare themselves to others. We just do it: it’s human nature.
How quickly does comparing yourself to another lead you to the dark side?
If I really stared at the picture of myself a million years ago, I probably could have gotten depressed that I don’t look like that anymore. In fact, I was bemoaning that to a friend yesterday who reminded me that I took care of myself and was still attractive, so there…(friends reel you back in when you start to go to the dark side)
But instead of comparing myself to 23 year old me, I looked at the Brightside of the friendship. I laughed because one of the girls in the picture still has the same earrings that she wore back then. I thought, I am so lucky to have these amazing women in my life. Today I am buying ink so that I can print out a copy of the pic to place on my desk…
When you compare yourself to another (or a younger version of yourself), you highlight that you are either better than them, or worse than them.
Why do you need to be better or worse than someone else?
How much of your self esteem is tied to being better or worse than another person?
Many high schools have gotten rid of class rank, because students comparing themselves to others was becoming a real problem. My daughter’s school did not announce the actual valedictorian until the day of graduation. They compared and contrasted and competed with one another as it was: if there was an actual rank they would have driven themselves crazy trying to be number one instead of doing all the wonderful things that they did.
Comparing may be human nature, but we need to be careful of this road. Wishing to have what others have, be what others are, is eventually going to make you feel bad about yourself. If you are constantly keeping up with the Jones Family or the Kardashian family, or any family, when are you doing what makes YOU truly happy? Is comparing yourself to others the best way to spend your energy?
If I dwelled that my best friend was more attractive then me, compared myself to her, I would have resented her. I might not have hung out with her. And that would have been a great loss in every way.
We need to make sure we don’t live in Compareland. We need to play down the comparisons and play up our own natural attributes. Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone more attractive, successful, smarter, better writer…and there’s always going to be someone who is less attractive, less successful, less smart…. But we can’t live our lives off this particular currency. We need to live our lives being the best that we can be.
The people I know who lead the least satisfying lives are ones that tend to spend their time comparing themselves to others. Envious of their brand new shiny white kitchen. Jealous that there husband is home at 6pm every night. They spend their energy wishing they were someone else, have someone else’s objects or attributes, instead of focusing on what would make their life better. They are living life externally. They see something and they want it. But they don’t really think about working on themselves internally.
Your homework today is to consciously think about when and why you compare yourself to another. If seeing someone with a really great tennis serve inspires you to take a lesson, or practice more, than go with it. This is the good side of comparison: seeing what someone else has or does and let it inspire you to do better in a positive way. If comparing your body to the curvaceous woman/ripped guy you see at the gym makes you feel bad about yourself, or makes you hate the person, consider what comparing is doing to your self esteem. Do you need something else to make you feel bad about yourself?
Maybe you can’t control your thoughts: but you can work on your reactions to them.