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The Dangers of the Comparison Game

You do it.  

So do I.  

And I’m sure my neighbor, best friend and mailman do it too…

Let me start from the beginning. So last night, I went to a pretty amazing costume party. It was the hopping spot on the social scene. (At least as hopping as the Midwest gets…)

Embracing the “I’m single” thing, I went solo. Huge step for me. Can we say awkward?

In between conversations, there’s only one thing to do. You watch how people interact. A LOT.

Let me tell you-it’s fascinating.

The first thing I noticed is that there are two ways that most women approach one another. To put it simply, some play the comparison game…and others don’t.

There I was, standing with a very attractive friend who is probably 100 pounds soaking wet.  (She’s in her late 60’s and rocks life out better than any 20-year-old I know.)

Hourglass figure. Blonde hair. A definite older version of “Stifler’s Mom.”

Just as we were gabbing, another very attractive woman glided into the conversation with an interesting comment.  Normally, I wouldn’t have noticed the context. But when you’re on your own, you notice everything.

“I could never rock THAT out like you do,” bombshell number two noted.

In truth, she was right. Most people can’t rock out a pleather/leather giddy up. But my friend did.

With a bang.

Then the bombshell said something that really connected with my soul. Deep impact, level ten.

“All of the women in this room are avoiding me,” my friend casually joked.

As I looked around, I noticed that Stifler’s older mom was getting look…after look…after look. They weren’t bad looks. They were just casual stares.

But why?

This all goes back to something called the social comparison theory.  According to Psychology Today, the social comparison theory “states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others.”

Wow! If that’s not a reality check, I don’t know what is.

We spend our lives making comparisons. Some good, and some bad. We compare our looks, jobs and everything else under the sun to someone else.

But there’s more to the story.

When we react, it doesn’t happen with a bang. Instead, we react subtly and often unknowingly.  And more often than not, we react without taking the time to consider the consequences.

You see, we all react differently. Some of us go on a diet because we feel that this will increase our self worth. Others look for a better job, secretly hoping for a greater sense of public respect. Some of us even tote the accomplishments of our kids.

Everyone does this to some degree at some time in life.

The problem is that, in this process, we forget one of life’s most important lessons.  Really, it’s one of the golden rules of self worth. We just push it to the side as the years tick by.

The rule is this: Self worth does’t come from comparing ourselves to and competing with others.

Strong self worth comes from within. That’s because any sense of self worth that you gain by comparing yourself to others is short lived. There will always be someone who is thinner, prettier,  more successful, or more attuned to the game of life.

That’s a fact.

Think about celebrities for a minute. Michael Phelps has been edged out by better swimmers as age has approached.   But he’s still Michael, enjoying being a dad. And Christie Brinkley may be a lifelong knockout, but she’s become a magazine cover has-been to younger versions of herself.

(Christie, you’re still beautiful! We love you, girl.)

The point is that everyone deals with reality differently. Self esteem, though, must come from something greater than comparisons and accomplishments. Period.

Call it what you want-God, spirituality, a love of nature, or a higher self. (For me, it’s the power of my faith.) Something greater than people has to drive you. It’s the only way to find true happiness.

The bottom line is that comparing yourself to others is a trap.  That better, more evolved version of humanity will always come around. No matter who you are.

If you play the comparison game you’ll lose.

Every. Single. Time.

The real key to happiness is finding faith in something greater than people.  People are simply human. They fall and they fail.

You can’t be the best at everything.  But you can be the best at being YOU.  Comparing yourself to others will only hold you back in the long run.

Where can you stop making comparisons in your life?

-Anxiety Girl



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