Making peace with comparison
Recently, I asked on my Instagram stories if there was anything people would like me to write about on my blog, as I was starting to write my next 12 week content plan.
‘Comparison’ came the only response.
Er, what? Who am I to write about comparison? I am a terrible person to write about this. I compare myself to people All The Time.
Her kids are better behaved. They earn so much more than I do. Their house is nicer. Their house is cleaner. Her relationship is better. She has a book deal!? Those people put questions out on to Instagram and get more than one response, god dammit.
These are just a VERY small selection of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m on social media or hanging out with friends in real life. It’s a noisy place in your mind when you are constantly living with comparison.
But then I realised there are things I’ve been doing to help manage it, so if it helps anyone, here’s what I’ve been doing:
Recognise when you’re doing it
Usually, if I’m in the state of mind where I’m just comparing myself to everyone I come across, I’m not in a brilliant place generally. It’s like a running commentary in my brain when I’m in a bad mood or something hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped.
But I am getting much better at actually recognising that I’m doing it. So much of this comparison mindset is unconscious. When I spot myself doing it, it is actually possible to stop. Either by putting the phone down, or by remembering that…
You are never seeing the full picture
No one’s life is perfect. The grass is almost never greener. Everyone has their own struggles. Maybe in the moment we think ours are worse than everyone we know. Maybe right now, they are. But you really have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives.
Learn from it
When you’re thinking ‘God, this woman’s house is just so tidy, my house is such a shitbag’ (just me?) when you visit a friend’s house, question it.
First of all: Is this thing actually important to you? I was listening to a podcast the other day and the woman was talking about how she and her husband became really ‘into’ wine for a season or two because that’s what their friends were into and she felt like she should be keeping up with their interests. Then they realised they actually didn’t care at all where their grapes were picked, they just liked wine that tasted nice. They’d been spending loads of time and money pursuing something they didn’t even care about.
So, the question is: do you actually care about the thing that you are comparing yourself about?
If you do, prioritise it! Jealous that someone’s house is tidy and actually, the more you think about it, the more crappy you feel about your cluttered house? Yup, that’s 100% me.
But I also don’t prioritise tidying. I don’t choose to create the space in my budget for a cleaner right now, and I don’t choose to spend my evenings tidying.
If something shows up as being really important to you while you’re doing this scrolling, and you decide you want to change it, figure out if there are steps you can take to make it happen in some form.
If it’s a huge thing (not being a home owner, for example, or a change of career, or even a change of relationship), it isn’t going to happen overnight. But what tiny steps can you start to make to take you in that direction?
I don’t remember to do this every night, but I do regularly try to sit down before bed and write down as many things as I can think about to be grateful for that day.
Focusing on the small good things from each day really does make you appreciate what you have.
Accept that everyone does it
These things are helpful, but I’ve also accepted that I’m probably always going to compare my life to other people’s lives and sometimes appear come off worse. But I also know that other people, not knowing the ins and outs of mine, look at my life and think ‘I want what she has’.
Everyone does it to some extent or another, and I am probably never going to reach a point where I don’t do it. So, instead I’m trying to just accept that it happens and make peace with it. As I said, if I can actually catch myself doing it, it’s becoming easier (but still isn’t easy!) to stop.