Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How To Avoid the Comparison Trap

When I wrote last week about how I’m on my Plan B, I wrote that making a certain amount of money isn’t what makes me happy. My happiness is defined by more than my income, but sometimes I can’t help but fall into the trap of comparing myself with others. Not just with money, but also in relation to travels, blogging, wicked skills in writing and photography... I could go on unfortunately.

There comes a point when comparing doesn't do me any good. Instead of getting inspired by what other people have made possible for themselves, I get resentful that I'm not there. Is that an awful thing to confess? Probably. But I can’t be the only one, right?

When I’m getting dangerously close to throwing myself a ginormous pity party and I feel myself spiraling down a path of self-doubt, I remember this mantra:

Comparison is the thief of joy -Theodore Roosevelt
I’m not always comfortable publicly announcing my intentions, whether that’s on the blog, or by making New Year’s resolutions, or even sharing my ideas with family and friends before I’m ready. But I do try to set mini-goals so that I can keep track of my progress and see that I am accomplishing little steps at a time. That way, regardless of whether I get praise or recognition from others, I still acknowledge my actions and stay in control of my accountability.
The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work towards being significant - and the success will naturally follow... -Oprah Winfrey
As I get to know myself better every year, I’ve learned that the accountability needs to be inspired from within. It’s important to give myself recognition for the mini-goals I achieve. It’s important for me to act in a certain way because I intrinsically feel compelled to do so, not just because someone tells me to do so. When I’m successful on my own terms, it means so much more.

To anyone else who finds themselves in a similar position, here's what I suggest to avoid getting sucked into the comparison trap:
  1. Keep your focus on what really matters. 
  2. Acknowledge the things that are going well in your life and always keep those in the forefront of your mind. 
  3. Make small and measurable goals personally suited your situation so you can remain accountable for your actions.
  4. Remember the mini and major goals you’ve achieved thus far and how great it feels to have accomplished those on your own terms.
Those grey and rainy days will soon become less and less frequent. But if ever a doozy is still thrown your way, and no amount of positive self-talk is making it better, accept that it’s okay to disengage. Sometimes you just need to turn everything off. Usually assisted by a glass or four of wine. And a venting session with a good friend. And an early bedtime. Fool-proof cures right there my friends.

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  1. Great tips! I am there with you not sure why I feel the need to compare. Is that a natural thing? Ugh

    1. Yes! I definitely think it's a part of human nature, but something we can learn to change as we grow older. Hopefully sooner rather than later haha!

  2. Very inspirational and great points! There are a lot more people than you think that compare themselves to others and often times feel like they're not getting anywhere. It's life and we can't help it. It's okay as long as you don't let it take over to the point where you become angry or depressed like the animated people in the depression commercials. No fun, :-)


    1. LOL I think that's the breaking point. When we turn into angry cartoon characters it's gone too far hehe!! Good to hear that this post resonated with you and thanks for the encouragement :) I don't think the instinct to compare will ever fully disappear, for me at least. But as long as it's held to a point of inspiration and not depression, it can be a good thing too!

  3. You're so right, it's just that a trap! It's important to check in and praise yourself.

    1. Yes definitely, or else it's so easy to get caught up with everything and discouraged! Thanks for sharing Elissa!


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