Why social comparisons are a waste of time
It seems we all do it but social comparisons are a waste of time. I have never met anyone that does not compare themselves to others from time to time. The trouble with social comparisons is that we are comparing our “behind the scenes footage” with other people’s “highlight reels”. What I mean by this, is that we never really have the full picture when we compare ourselves to others. We are comparing ourselves, warts and all, to an inaccurate and only partly seen reality where others are concerned. Other people generally only show us what they want us to see. We are all tricked into believing this edited version of other people. Never forget that everybody has skeletons in their closet.
When we make social comparisons we tend to compare ourselves negatively. We focus on all that we lack in ourselves and in our own lives and look for all the things that other people have that we don’t. The only purpose social comparisons serve is to make us feel worse about ourselves.
In fact, this happened to me not so long ago. I was having a particularly bad day and my son and I weren’t getting on. I drove away from the house muttering under my breath, wishing things were different and more carefree in my life. It was then that I noticed in the driveway of another house nearby, two young teenage boys playing basketball. They seemed to be the perfect family. A nice big house, a perfect driveway and two happy teens spending time together. They seemed to have everything I didn’t have. About six months later, a couple came to see me for marriage counselling. They had been having severe problems and the husband had even moved out of the house. The police and social workers had been involved on several occasions.
This couple lived in that very same house that I had driven past few months prior to this meeting. This experience reminded me that our comparisons are often tinged with our own insecurities about our own lives. Comparing my life to this unknown family had not been helpful on any level. All it had done was make me feel worse about my own situation.
If you must compare, compare the “old you” to the “current you”. Look at your own progress and see how far you have come. That is the only comparison that is worth paying attention to. We never know for sure what is going on in other people’s lives. More often than not we will be assuming that things are far better for others than they really are.
Social comparisons are a waste of time, they are inaccurate and they do not help us to feel better about ourselves. Whenever you catch yourself making comparisons, remind yourself that you are comparing “known” to relatively unknown. Give it up-it’s a bad unhelpful habit.