I think it is pretty common for people to compare. Whether it’s done to validate one’s own circumstances or to try to feel better about a situation, comparison can often have a bitter after taste. And during the holiday season the idea of comparisons becomes even more grand. All you can afford to buy your parents is a gift card to their favorite restaurant while your friend is buying their parents a dream vacation. Or perhaps you get a call Christmas day from your friend screaming about her engagement and how bright her new engagement ring shines. All while you stare at the new Monica album you just got from your boo because that’s all he could afford to buy. Maybe your comparison struggles are based in the kitchen. You’re three cakes in because the other two got burned and trashed then in walks your aunt with thee most perfect Peach Cobbler one has ever feasted their eyes on.
These are all fictional but very realistic and possible scenarios. The truth is that comparisons are real. They are just as real during the holidays as they are every other time of the year. And despite the way human nature may lead you to feel, it’s important to keep this in check. Otherwise you’ll always be in anguish of what someone else has going on when truly you’re just blocking your own accomplishments and possibilities.
Here are 4 things to keep in mind in a world full of comparisons.
1) You may have a greater purpose.
Now this one has gotten to me many times. I’ve seen people get promotions without the experience or even the work ethic required for the job. It’s a frustrating thing to witness. And you can’t help to compare how you may work harder or get to the office earlier yet they strolled in and somehow managed to step right into the next level. In this case it’s important to recognize that you may have a greater purpose. Maybe they did get the promotion to that higher title but what if that is their final career destination? What if one day you’ll exceed that level?
I know, you never thought of it that way. Meditate on that…
2) Fairy Tales are sometimes just that – fairy tales.
How often have we heard things like “they’re the perfect couple – I want a relationship like theirs”. Or the famous social media hashtag: “relationship goals”. I used to be guilty of these types of comparisons as well. That is until I matured and began to see the harsh, adult realities of certain situations. Some of those perfect relationships turned into imperfect divorces. And those once worth of a “relationship goals” hashtag may have been operating on a weak foundation that didn’t include the principles I found monumental in shaping a relationship.
And this is no shade to those relationships. It’s also not to say that all happy relationships are only a myth. Just a little reminder to me…to us all…that all realities may not be reality which is why it is important not to compare.
3) Don’t compare what could be their chapter 11 to your chapter 1.
Now I’ve seen time and time again how people will always strive to “Keep up with the Jones’”. One person goes out and gets a new car, the other rushes out to get the same or better car. Another buys a home in the new housing development and up comes the other announcing their new home purchase in the new development down the street. But how often do people ask questions like “is this the right time for me?” or “can I afford it?”? Don’t get yourself into a mess behind that car or house note that you really can’t afford to keep up with right now.
Which leads me right into my next point…
4) You may not know the sacrifices required to have what that person has.
A few years back I was talking to a friend about her home. She had just purchased a condo in a great neighborhood a couple years prior. I told her how much I admired her for owning her own home at a fairly young age. She purchased the home as a single woman which was even more admirable. While I was happy for her, I was a little down on myself that I was behind on accomplishing my own goal of owning a home. But in that conversation, I gained a new perspective. My friend told me “Owning a home is great and all but I’m house poor. All my money goes toward this house. It’s hard for me to do a lot of social activities.”.
At that moment reality slapped me clear across the face. Ouch!
In what ways have you compared yourself with others? How can you reframe your thoughts to focus more on possibilities for yourself and less on measuring up to the next person?