Existential Psychology

Comparing Yourself Unfavorably

By  | 

People who are struggling to improve their lives, who are committed to changing aspects of their situations that they have come to find undesirable, usually can’t help but compare themselves unfavorably to those who appear to have it all together. It seems unfair that others have things so easy, that they basically get to skip through life with smiles upon their faces, not a care in the world.

But the data points used for comparison are usually based on smoke and mirrors. The smiles are plastered on. The best foot is always put forward. Vulnerabilities are hidden from view, and actually reaction formation shows us that it’s exactly when people are feeling vulnerable that they’re most likely to project an air of confidence. Status updates on the social networks are meant to spin a very specific narrative, a narrative that says without saying it outright just how splendidly everything is going . To one degree or another everyone is walking around wearing a mask. This mask only comes off within the confines of intimate relationships, never in the world at large.

Behind the scenes what we find is that everyone struggles with something. Everyone has their own insecurities, their own secret fears and anxieties, their own felt deficits, their own vulnerabilities, their own weaknesses.

This is the reason why comparing yourself unfavorably to others is a waste of time. It’s based on superficial information, on the facade people put out there, not on the real stuff going on underneath. If the real stuff going on underneath is what you’ve decided to take an active interest in and try to change for the better this is cause for pride, positivity, and hope not humiliation, negativity, and hopelessness.

The only thing that really matters is your own personal journey of growth, your decision to improve your situation as much as you can, regardless of the supposed strengths or weaknesses of the people around you. Take a page out of the mindfulness playbook and focus all that psychic energy on your own change rather than expending it on trying to measure up to the phantom qualities of others. Whatever the real strengths of these people, they’re probably trying to hide their weaknesses from you just like you’re trying to hide your weaknesses from them. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors that gets in the way of walking your own authentic path of self-actualization.