Updated: Apr 9, 2019
“You have a big butt Mama,” my 5-year-old affirms to me after coming out of the shower.
My immediate mental response is “ahhhh what!??!!!!!!” A nano second later my clever mind says to her, “compared to what? Because compared to an ant my butt is GINORMOUS, compared to you my butt is bigger of course, but compared to an elephant my butt is TINY.”
Her mind processed and probably visualized the comparison, giggled and went running away. Later, when butts were mentioned again (for those of you that have children, you know that butts, poops and farts are a common conversation in the house) I was told I have a perfect butt.
I thought this conversation key for our minds in our PHx perspective.
This conversation happens silently in our minds on a daily or hourly basis - we are constantly comparing some aspect of who we are to someone else. This someone else can be a friend, a sibling, a colleague, a role model, a celebrity, an Instagramer or as simply as someone walking down the street. In my daughter’s case, she was looking at my butt in comparison to her little butt. There was no malice, there was simple observation.
The trouble with our adult, more "sophisticated" mind is that we don't just simply observe. We don’t take the time to pause and check out what or who we are comparing ourselves to. We don’t explore nor do we excavate what’s going on in our heads. This causes a myriad of problems within ourselves.
TRUTH + CONSEQUENCE
Let’s be frank here, if you play the comparison game, you will lose 9 times out of 10, it’s just the nature of comparison. You see, when we compare ourselves we are doing it for one of 2 reasons both with negative after shock;
Reason 1: you compare yourself to someone you see as better off
Reason 2: you compare yourself to someone you see as worse off than yourself
When you compare yourself to someone you see as better off (comparing up), while it may serve as a source of inspiration or motivation, there will undoubtedly be a moment in your mind when you will probably feel a tinge of envy, fear, and/or low self-esteem.
On the other hand, when you compare yourself against someone you see as worse off (comparing down), you are doing this to boost your own self esteem. While this might seem harmless, when you play this comparison game you fail to capture the bigger picture of the person that is “worse off” than you thus missing out on the ability to empathize and support.
Also, and what I think is the bigger problem when you compare down is that you will need the failures and misfortunes of others to make you feel better.
Enter “Zee beeg Gerhman vord” Schadenfreude. This is the "experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another." (thank you Wikipedia).
If you take an objective view of our society, is it safe to say that our culture is practically built on this? Look at reality tv shows? The bigger the train wreck the more mesmerized we are the better we feel about ourselves.
I admit, I have gone there before, I have schadenfreuded but it’s not a healthy place to be in your mind. To feel better about yourself at the expense of another’s shitty state is really not a very refined way to be.
THE RECIPE TO FREE
So, how do we get out of this comparison trap? Well, we can’t really, comparison is a part of our human experience. As long as you know this, you won't beat yourself up for doing it. BUT there is something you can do:
Change your perspective. Instead of seeing yourself as you vs them – humanize the person, consider your common humanity. For example: find empathy in what may have brought that person to a lower state or conversely, analyze what may have brought that person to a “better” state. We are all human; we will all have shitty days and good days.
Do some BB’s. This way, you can catch your brain in the act of comparison and avoid downward spiralling.
Accept yourself. If there is something that inspires you about another and you would like that for your life, accept where you are in this moment, recognize your goal then put a strategy in place to achieve said goals. This alone will be the first step in empowering you and lifting your self-esteem.
Also, next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to others, think of the context in which you are doing it.
♥ Like the example of "my butt to the elephants," who are you comparing yourself to?
♥ Are you comparing your beginning to someone’s middle?
♥ Are you comparing your inside to someones outside?
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
(quote by: Wilde? Merton? Perreira? Menards? Anonymous?...no one really knows)
What do you mostly do: Schadenfreude or comparison for inspiration?
Can you get your self-esteem up to a healthy place without comparison?
Can you look at other’s successes and feel inspired by them as opposed to frozen with jealously? If so, what are your strategies?
Let me know in the comments below.
As always, I wish you love, happiness, joy, truth and peace for an ultimate PHx’d life.
With Love & Kindness,