Thursday, November 6, 2014
Negative Social Comparison: What's Wrong With Comparing Ourselves to Other People?
No matter how wonderful we're feeling about ourselves, it's tough to stop thinking someone else has it better.
Too often we engage in the futile parlor game of defining ourselves by where we fall short compared to the thinner, richer, prettier woman standing in front of us at Starbucks.
She's even going to receive her latte sooner!
Psychology types call this phenomenon negative social comparison, and it can really mess with our self esteem.
What we're doing is negating our own positive attributes accomplishments and viewing ourselves as defective compared to someone else.
It's hard to feel happy about ourselves when we don't stack up to an idealized version of someone else.
But we have no idea what worries are happening in the Starbucks lady's head. Her husband may be fooling around with her best friend. Her son may be flunking the fourth grade. She could have just found out her company is outsourcing her job.
Would we really trade our lives for that slender figure or perfect hair?
There are hundreds of articles on the Internet that provide advice on how to stop comparing yourself to other people, but it all boils down to this:
You cannot be someone else; so be the best you that you can be.
Or, as Dr. Seuss put it: Today you are YOU that is TRUER than true. There is NO ONE alive who is YOUER than YOU.
So be your own benchmark. Every time you find yourself comparing yourself to a random stranger or airbrushed magazine model, focus instead on how far you have traveled in your own life's journey. Whether it's weight lost, wisdom gained, or even just making peace with your mother-in-law, be kind to yourself and celebrate who you've become instead of wishing you were someone else.
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