How to avoid the comparison trap

Whether we like it or not, we all fall into the comparison trap at some point in our lives.

We slip from harmlessly listening to someone’s success or observing it from a distance (perhaps through social media) to then feeling inadequate about ourselves.

Comparisonitis, as Chelsea called it the other day, is something we all suffer.

Comparison is the suckler of joy and self-appreciation and it can hinder your friendships, mindset and how you view yourself if you don’t snub it in the bud. 

I think it’s happening more in lockdown too.

Instant comparisons are made on social media as we all sit in our own homes, as we’re all in the same environment – to some extent. Nobody is outdoors on a yacht exploring the world, they’re just in their living room and my, oh my, does that open a new can of worms. 

Esther and I were chatting about this a few weeks back, that lockdown is such a different experience depending on who you’re isolating with. 

It’s easy to want what someone else has. Whether that’s being independent and isolating by yourself with the freedom of being in your own space, rather than isolating with your family, or isolating in a couple. 

Esther spent three weeks by herself in her flat and I often thought how lucky she was to be able to create her daily routine and have her own space and life, as I moved home in January with my family. But there’s always light and shade. 

Sometimes nothing makes you feel lonelier than scrolling through happy couples getting engaged or simply enjoying each other’s cooking, company and happily co-existing. Especially when you’re single or separated from you significant other during lockdown.

Equally, it’s a completely different experience if you’re in a flat to if you’re in a house, or if you have kids and are homeschooling.

I’m grateful to be with my family. They boost my mood and keep me very entertained as do the dogs.

It’s just different to what some other people I know have and that’s ok. Everyone is doing their best – no one is doing better or worse. 

Remember that we usually fall into the comparison trap as we view something about ourselves as less than someone else, or another person has drawn that comparison between you and this person.

There’s an important distinction as you can control how you view yourself. Yet if someone else is making you feel inadequate by drawing comparisons then perhaps discuss it with them as it’s less in your control.

We’re all guilty of dipping a toe into the comparison trap but, here are some ways to avoid the comparison trap especially in isolation:

Praise others for their achievements 

First of all if you think someone is smashing one area of their life, tell them. If you watched their video, read their feature, heard about their exciting news, congratulate them. 

For instance, my friend Ali finishes her exams and her degree tomorrow! And I have no doubt that she’s absolutely smashed it.

Slay and stay in your own lane

I personally need this reminder quite often. If someone achieves something that you think is successful, good etc. before you compare yourself, ask yourself if it’s something you would want. 

You know that x who bought a house with y is happy, that’s what she wants and she got it. Yay for fictional x. But in this moment in your life, is that what you want? Probably not. 

You’re probably smashing whatever it is you’re doing, and you can use this post as a reminder to continue on working towards your own goals.

It’s easy to get distracted in comparison and lose your own goals in what you think you want rather than what you actually want.

Jot down your achievements 

It’s easy to lose sight of how great you are every now and again. Especially when you haven’t showered yet, or feel overworked or sleepy, you don’t see all the great things about yourself.

It’s always useful to make a note somewhere of things you’ve done that you’re proud of. As small wins in life add up to big ones. 

A sad part of the comparison trap is that when you’re in it, you forget everything great you’ve done up until that point. 

Also, I don’t know about you but when something great or surprising happens I often don’t take the time to enjoy it. I move onto the next thing to achieve.

When we really need to celebrate and focus on the wins before we channel our energy into the next step.

Remember that no one is thriving in every aspect of their life 

It is very rare for every aspect of your life to go right how you want it to at the same time. It will be for periods in your life and then something will change. A friend might move away, your relationship may fizzle out, or something unexpected will happen to strain your finances or career. 

You’re only seeing half of the picture when you focus on someone else’s wins. You aren’t looking at the knockbacks, struggles or perhaps even aware of what else is going on in their life. 

We don’t all excel at everything all of the time, so we should celebrate each others wins as well as our own to avoid the comparison trap. 

How do you avoid the comparison trap?

Read more of my lockdown posts here.

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