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The Comparison Paradox

By April 20, 2017 No Comments

Everyone is better than you.  Their lives are more exciting, they make more money, their husbands and wives are more attractive, they go to the best places, do the coolest things, hang with the most amazing people, have the best relationships, and never struggle with the day-to-day malaise of frustration, anxiety, depression, fears of failure, fears of expectation or loneliness…on social media.

Everyone’s life sucks.  Let’s face it, you are not the only one.  Life is hard.  Requiring struggle, confrontation, anxiety, fear, and pain.  Life is a challenging journey.

Unfortunately, we never see the challenges.

Investors will tell you about their best investment choices.  “I made 150% in two years on that one.”  Rarely, do those same investors tell you about their failures.  Yet, 87% of the mutual fund managers in the world do not beat their benchmark performance index on an annual basis.

Athletes tell you about the comeback story that ends in a win not the one that ends in a loss.

Even as young children we are taught to filter our conversations.  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  Or more simply, “Don’t complain.”

While these forms of positive expressions are individually beneficial, the natural distortion of the truth through social communication is driving people further into feelings of self-doubt, regret, and worthlessness.  Depression is exploding. Depression leads to a multitude of other health problems including substance abuse, over-eating, heart disease, and any number of auto-immune diseases.

The logical conclusion is that our socially institutionalized comparisons are literally killing us.

Here is the other side of depression…positivity, control, happiness, fulfillment, confidence.

You are an amazing individual.  You are on a journey.  Your life is impactful to those around you.  You can make real change in yourself, your friends, and your world.  You have unique talents, skills, goals, hopes, dreams, and opportunities.  Take advantage of them.

Struggling with my own ups and downs in life, I have learned to limit outward comparisons and instead compare myself to…myself.

I have a phone.  I love social media.  I compare.  However, rather than looking at pictures of others and getting sad, I like to look at my own past pictures and remember the amazing life I get to live.  I compare my life to the life I want to continue to develop.  Then, I try to use social media as a motivating platform and idea factory for all the things I want to do (or more importantly) who I want to become.

I try not to compare myself to others.  I try to compare myself to my prior self.  Questions I ask are:  Am I getting better?  Am I happier?  Am I feeling more satisfied?  Am I growing new skills?

Comparisons to others can be destructive.  Comparing your current self to your past self is motivating.

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