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  • Sharon Borland

#37 Comparison – Good or Bad?

If the grass is always greener on the other side, should we look over the fence?

Comparing ourselves with others is something we’re quite likely to do often, yet much of the time we might not even notice. We could be comparing physical appearance, clothing, skills and abilities, possessions, achievements, relationships, perceived happiness, jobs, how people spend their time and much more. We might be comparing ourselves to others to work out how to fit in. Or perhaps we’re comparing to see how we can stand out. Often, both things may happen together – we want to belong whilst being better/faster/stronger/more popular.

In order to consider whether all this comparison is helpful or not, focusing on the impact and consequences might be revealing. What feelings and emotions do you experience and what actions do you take?

Sometimes you might find yourself engaging in ‘upward comparison’ - comparing yourself with someone who you consider better than you in some way. This could inspire you to work towards some improvement in yourself that you’re pleased about, or you could find yourself striving so hard to improve that you become miserable. You could simply decide that you’ll never be able to achieve what they have and become self-critical, hopeless and give up on something you previously enjoyed. Upward comparison can make it hard to celebrate someone else’s success and may even lead you to desire something to happen to the other person to pull them down or fail.

‘Downward comparison’ could cause you to experience satisfaction that you’re ‘better than someone else’. It could also cause some deep connection to their situation that might lead you to experience sadness or a sense of helplessness. Alternatively, it could motivate you to advocate or assist in some way.

So, comparison, good or bad? Possibly a bit of both. You may find the following helpful:

  • Think about and notice when you’re comparing yourself to others

  • Notice the feelings, emotions, thoughts, decisions and actions that follow

  • Ask yourself whether you’re happy with the impact on you, other people or your relationships

In the next blog we’ll look at some considerations that might allow us to exercise greater levels of choice about the impact of comparison on our lives.


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