What We Can Do About Comparison

Humans suffer for 101 reasons. But there's one reason that's especially pernicious: 

Comparison. 

Which we do ruthlessly. And often unthinkingly. 

We open up Instagram and feel less beautiful/popular/put-together/on-top-of-it.

We read people's professional bios and think, I'm not as successful, or, I'm way more accomplished than her. 

We see our friends moving up the career ladder, getting awards and accolades, and it's only human that we'd judge ourselves for not moving fast enough, being further along. 

We are taught to measure ourselves against others. And, in many ways, to measure our worth against others. Which causes no shortage of heartache. 

Comparison almost always leaves us feeling judgmental - of ourselves or others. And comparison almost never leaves us feeling kind - towards ourselves or others. 

So what if we shifted away from comparison and towards compassion?

Say we notice ourselves thinking, "I'm not as creative/funny/thin as so-and-so..." or "I'm more intelligent/deserving/suited than so-and-so." Here are a few things we can try: 

We can gently label our thinking: "Ahhh, comparison."

We can place our hand on our heart or cheek, as many mindfulness practitioners recommend. It can help to bring tenderness to the harshness of comparison. 

We can be a sweet friend to ourselves: "Oh, honeybunch," we can tell ourselves, "I see you're suffering."

We can remind ourselves that sure as the sun rises in the east, the person we're comparing ourselves to is also suffering - probably with many things, including comparison. Even if we can't see it. 

We can remember that we humans are brilliant at hiding our suffering.

And we can offer compassion to our suffering and the suffering of whomever we're comparing ourselves to. 

Comparison is the work of the head. But compassion is the work of the heart. Everything in society tells us to live from the former. Yet we're made to live from the former and the latter. And for me, this is a practice that brings us closer towards what we're made for. 

The Lightning Notes is funded by kind donors. If something here strikes you, I'd be grateful if you'd consider donating. Click to Donate!