The Comparison Trap (n): A vicious and unrealistic cycle in which we compare ourselves with others and let our self-esteem inflate or deflate according to the results of the comparison.
I think each one of us has fallen prey to this trap at least once in the past. It’s a natural instinct which can arise in almost any area of life:
- Physical appearance
- Fitness levels
- Bank balance
…The potential comparisons are endless! It can start of as a healthy admiration but quickly turns into something dangerous. We view something someone else has or does as better and end up feeling insecure and disappointed with who we are.
I haven’t really talked it about much on my blog but for the longest time I fostered an unhealthy mindset with food and exercise: it was a constant goal to eat less and exercise more. Although my scales & clothes told me I was losing weight, I never felt truly content with my size. I’d see celebrities with rock hard abs, friends who effortlessly have bangin’ bodies and this would only fuel my dissatisfaction with the reflection I saw in the mirror. Rather than be proud of how far I’ve come, I’d still feel inadequate with my efforts. It was an ongoing and mentally-exhausting cycle.
Although I do occasionally feel the negative twinge, I tend to be much more positive in my outlook now. It’s all too easy to forget that we each have our flaws: focusing on one trait, skill, or characteristic does not take a balanced view of the other person’s total “package” into account: Just because someone is a size 0, are they truly happy in other aspects in life? For example, I see a few ladies at the gym whose figure I would kill to have. Rather than let it get me down, I use it as motivation to work harder. I’m in and out of the gym within an hour; for all I know she could be busting her ass there for hours on end.
Also I think it’s important to accept that you cannot win: whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, celebrity, or whoever: there will always be someone smaller than you…faster, financially better off, more popular, and more succesful than you. Instead compare yourself to yourself: you are your own benchmark. I might not ever look like Ms. Alba but I look a hell of a lot better than 4 years ago. Rather than use comparisons as a means to validate or tear yourself down, allow them to inspire and impress you. At the end of the day, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
How do you avoid falling into the “comparison trap”?