They Have It Better: The Comparison Bug and How to Fight It

By Allie Brickman

I don’t know about you, but I can be perfectly content with a part of my life at one moment then, without warning, the life someone else has seeps into my mind and my contentment slowly gets contaminated by jealousy. Then there’s the stuff I wasn’t content with to begin with…

It happens without us even realizing it. A friend tells us great news and we are happy for them, but there’s a part of us that feels a twinge of negativity. Why is this we may wonder…we care about this person and we consider ourselves to be good people, so why aren’t we 100% happy for them? It’s because their happiness sheds a light on our lives and what we may not have, thus bringing up some sadness.  

Is there a way to avoid this inclination to compare ourselves to others? Luckily, the answer is yes! Here are some tips on how to do so:

1)When you catch yourself comparing your situation (whether it be in regards to relationship, job, friendship, etc.) to someone you feel has it better, think of someone who has it worse. 

You can complete the following exercise:

Fill in the names of people who fit the blanks…go as far back as you can

<—Someone worse off then them<—Someone worse off<—You

<—______________<—_________________<—______________<—You

This will help add some perspective—you’ll see there is a constant continuum that could go on forever (if you knew everyone in existence).

2)When you catch yourself comparing your situation to someone you feel has it better, think of a time in your life when you had it worse. This will serve as a reminder that things change and can improve, and that you’re capable of making it through. 

3)Make a list of 7 things you are grateful for. No matter how small.Anything from your wonderful aunt to your cute pinky toe will suffice!                                    

4When you catch yourself comparing your situation to someone you feel has it better, think of the possibilities of what may come in your life (can be emotional or physical). The present is fleeting…life evolves and changes and you truly never know what good things can come your way.
4a)Make a list of the positive possibilities that may come and circle the ones you can take steps to make happen. Write out those steps and start taking them!

5)Let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them (only if you do, of course). This takes the gratitude and appreciation of your life out of just your head and into your relationships where it may be even more salient.

6)Remember that everyone has trials and tribulations…most of which you cannot see. (Personal story: A few years back, I was friends with a woman on Facebook that I had gone to school with when I was younger. She seemed to have everything, and I would look through the pictures of her amazing relationship and incredible friendships, comparing my life to hers and wishing I had what she did. It was pretty self-destructive. Ultimately, I unsubscribed from her page so I would no longer get updated about her perfect life. A few months later I heard that her father had past away earlier that year and it was a very hard time for her and her family. I had no idea from the pictures that another part of her life was so devastating. She may have had things I wanted but her life was certainly not perfect. I realized then that you NEVER know what people are truly going through, and envying their perfect lives is futile because that perfection likely does not exist). 

7)Know that you are not alone. Everyone has things they want to change about their lives, and everyone feels that twinge (or even ferociously piercing) jealousy at times in their lives. Knowing that it’s natural to feel, but that you have control over it can help you move forward from those feelings.

Feel free to pick and choose which tips work best for you, and show that comparison bug who’s boss! 

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