Avoid The Comparison Trap
I read this great Harvard Business Review article today called Avoid The Envy Trap
Whether it is profession, school performance, love life, money or looks, there is always something some of your friends or colleagues will seem to be “better at”. If there is one thing we should all learn to do is to stop comparing ourselves to other people. I’m the first one to admit — I do it all the freaking time.
But you know what? It’s time to let go.
There is a quote I really like from Marcus Aurelius and that is:
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment
The great thing about that quote is that there is hope. You have the power to break free of the comparison trap — and sure, it may take some time, but you can do it.
Now I’m not saying it’s easy. I have no magic solution. I’m still in the process of figuring this out myself. I didn’t become an investment banker like all of my friends — and that’s OK. I move every year and I still don’t have an apartment — and that’s fine. I am not/I don’t…
See what I just did? I started the sentences by “I am not”. Don’t do that, EVER. Start your sentences by positive sentences (“I am/I do”) instead of negative ones (“I am not/I do not”). This change of mindset may be difficult at the beginning if you’re not used to doing it — but again, it is just a “habit” to take and it shouldn’t take more than 30 days (The Power of Habit, remember?)
The solution is in yourself. Spend more time doing the things that you love. Stop looking at your friends’ walls on Facebook — you really don’t know what’s going on in their lives, remember, “the wall” is just a facade, a “controlled” image of their lives. Spend more “me time” — read, watch a movie, meditate, take a walk, do whatever works for you.
Pushing yourself by comparing yourself to others a little (like any overachiever) is healthy as long as you still manage to see what you have achieved and are happy about it. But if you fail to acknowledge and celebrate your own successes because you think you’ll never be good enough, that’s when you need to take a step back and revaluate how you look at things.
Remember: you have the power to break free of this trap at any moment. And a final quote: