Ban Comparative Thinking!

My focus this week has been on Comparative Thinking. This is when we get caught up comparing ourselves to others – except we rarely do it positively or even fairly, we tend to be very one-sided and compare ourselves only to those who we feel are better in some way. How do you feel when you do that?

In times past it used to be called ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ (ie the people next door). Today with social media giving us global access to other peoples’ lives, its more like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ – we end up comparing our lives with the lives of the latest celebrities or people who live in constant sunshine with very different lifestyles.

What’s important to realise is that this is something you do. It’s a way of using your own mind against yourself. Is it helpful? Is it healthy? Is it kind? No. Luckily, because it is something you do, it is also something you can Not Do. Just don’t do it! If you’re not convinced, depersonalize it a little. Imagine saying to a child or a friend – oh you’re not as good as her, she’s much better than you, you’ll never look/be like that… You just wouldn’t say that to someone you care about because you know you would crush them. Similarly, if you would like to feel confident and happy in yourself, don’t do it to you. We have a habit of underestimating ourselves and overestimating others. The dangerous thing is that we believe our own negative thoughts and tend to spend quite a bit of time spiralling downwards in them; whereas when we have a positive thought or if someone compliments us, we bat it off, and pass over the feeling very quickly.

The law of averages shows that there will always be people better off than you in almost any area or skill, and similarly there will always be people worse off than you. Unless you can use comparison to motivate yourself, don’t do it at all. Most people find it de-motivating, de-moralising; its makes us feel small and feeds our sense that we’re not good enough. Focus instead on your strengths, on what you have, on what is going well for you. When you switch your attention to what is, instead of what you think should be, and learn to accept that, you are learning true happiness.

Bring your awareness to your comparative thinking, and switch your attention back to the present (out of that critical judgemental thinking mind) and see if you can begin to accept who you are, how and as you are. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship!