Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easy to compare ourselves to others when you’re feeling insecure about our own selves or situations. When we get into comparing ourselves to others, we get into a never-ending cycle of wishing and wanting, and not feeling good enough about our own selves or our own performance.

When we’re feeling low, the natural tendency to start to want to be someone else or have what someone else has is natural. Our minds start to generate a lot of fantasies and wishes to be “the next guy.” we may want what we perceive they have: a nice car, a better marriage, more confidence, or whatever. The reality is, we really just don’t know what they have and what they don’t have, because other men display their social personalities which may be a lot different from what’s actually happening inside of them. When we compare ourselves to them (or what we think is them), we are actually comparing ourselves to our fantasies of what we think they are or what it is that they have. The fact is, we really don’t know, and we end up comparing ourselves to something that might be more of an illusion then reality.

When we get into comparing ourselves with others, it’s more of a reflection about how we are feeling down about ourselves. If we can learn how to deal with ourselves instead of seeking out fulfillment from other people, by striving to be what it is that we think that they are, we can learn to stop the cycle of suffering and striving, and start to deal with our own unhappiness or self image.

This is really hard to do, because we exist in a culture that thrives on comparing ourselves to other people. If we don’t have the right job, where the right close, have the right mate or live a certain lifestyle, we are not as worthy, according to our culture. Consumerism is based on us striving and not being content with what we have, and so we get predisposed at an early age to compare ourselves to others, or even ourselves, about what we need to own, need to be, or need to think. This is a black hole that is never-ending, and it doesn’t produce ultimate satisfaction and positive self-esteem.

Even comparing ourselves to ourselves is a problem. Often times, our inner dialogue is dominated by our self critic, which shames us and blames us for not being good enough, not having enough, and not doing enough. A lot of men struggle with shame as a result, and tend to be depressed, anxious, or generally withdrawal from others as a result of struggling with their inner critic. Comparing ourselves to others is merely a symptom of comparing ourselves to ourselves, and we can start to deal with our self critic or the voice inside of us that negates us and says “we’re not enough,” we can start to take a hard look at that which generates our unhappiness.

Here are some things to think about when comparing ourselves to others, or even ourselves:

  • Try to reframe your comparisons to others: question your comparison to others, and consider that your comparison may not be accurate; the reality may be more than meets the eye.
  • Try fantasizing about what would happen if you were to actually gain or attain that which are striving to get. What would that look like? instead of spending summers mental energy fantasizing about what you don’t have, what you’re not, and what you’d like to be, actually create a mental projection of how it would be to actually be that way/own that thing/act in that way. What would life be like when you were to be at that point? Would you be happy then?
  • Shift the ” locus of evaluation” from outside to inside: instead of comparing yourselves others outside of yourself, try turning the conversation inwards. try to look at the comparisons that you make against yourself, and start to make note of those things. Try writing the comparisons down in a journal, or talking about it with your mate or spouse.
  • Usually our comparisons and strivings are a mental game we play with ourselves. If you can sit back, relax, and sink into the felt sense your body, behind the mental comparisons, how does that feel? if you’re struggling with a feeling of “not good enough”, let that sensation, inside of your body, maybe in your heart, shoulders, or stomach. A lot of times, we just don’t tune into what our body is telling us, and instead let our minds drive us on autopilot. We convince ourselves that the mental comparisons are reality, and in fact, they are not.

These are just a couple of things to think about to help you reduce your energy investment in comparison to other people. As long as were caught in this never-ending cycle of comparing ourselves to other people, ourselves, or external situations, we will never be ultimately happy because were going to keep striving and not reach the finish line.


 

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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