How often do you compare yourself to others? How much do you truly know about the person you are comparing yourself to?
Comparison can actually be a helpful skill and, in fact, it’s one we teach in DBT. Before I talk about the benefits of comparison, let’s talk about the pitfalls.
Looking on to another person and/or their life can be very deceiving. This is particularly true when it comes to social media. It’s important to acknowledge that we only see what people put out there; in reality there is likely much more going on under the surface. From this shallow perspective, we project our own personal beliefs onto it. In this process we may end up feeling sad, envious, or inadequate. Additionally, when we compare ourselves to another, it is the equivalent of comparing a tulip to a sunflower. Both are flowers, yet unique in their beauty needs, and life-cycle. When we look at this objectively, it is easy to see the beauty in each. However, when we are in the mode of comparison with another, our objectivity is often lacking.
Using the skill of comparison can be effective if used to generate gratitude, perspective, or if it inspires growth. To do this, you may consider comparing you to you. In other words, look at where you are now compared to a few months ago, a year ago, etc. This can also help give you perspective about your own personal evolution. Finally, you can look on at others to find inspiration. The key here is to keep it focused on how you can keep growing versus it being about the other person.
As with any skill, the more you practice, the easier effective comparison becomes.