Eleanor Roosevelt once described comparison as the “thief of joy”, and truer words were never
spoken. The habit of comparing yourself to other people robs you of your joy because it
prevents you from celebrating your own wins and milestones. We tend to think that we might be
the only people struggling with this, but comparisons tend to happen within families, friends, and
communities. With the rise of technology and social media, people now have more access to
the stories and lives of others. Although this makes us more interconnected, it also introduces
us to more challenges because it exposes us to aspects of life (marital status, job, weight, etc)
that are portrayed “perfectly” by others online, which ultimately prompts the comparisons that we
Sometimes we’re unaware of the comparisons that we make, and we find ourselves feeling
weighed down without understanding why. The comparison trap has several consequences that
one must be aware of.
Consequences of the Comparison Trap
1- A Negative Self-Image:
You have feelings of inadequacy so you tend to view your character through a harsh and critical
lens. Whether it’s your physical features or your personality traits, you attach negative labels to
yourself and you start to believe that it’s the truth of who you are. You also find yourself looking
at others and thinking “if only I was smart as X”, “I’m not loved by others the way X is”, or “I wish
I had his/her body”. You feed yourself negative thoughts that perpetuate the narrative that you
aren’t as good or capable as others are.
2- Being Unable To Go After Things You Want:
A negative self-image plants in you a fear of going after the things you want. It plants in you a
fear of not succeeding the way others do, so you abandon some of your goals entirely. Some
think “what if I try and I fail and it confirms to me what I “think” I know about myself?”. These
thoughts truly limit us and stop us from reaching our potential, because the benchmark we’ve
set for ourselves is based on someone else’s success.
3- Being Critical of Others:
When someone isn’t happy with who they are, they find relief in knowing that someone else
doesn’t have it all together. Sometimes what we criticize in others is the very thing that we hate
about ourselves, and this is a defense mechanism called projection. If you find yourself
constantly judging others, you should reflect on the factors in your own life that you may not be
4- Feelings of Depression and Hopelessness:
We think that tearing other people down will make us feel better, but newsflash! It doesn’t.
Maybe only temporarily, and then we go back to feeling stuck. The constant comparisons you
make don’t give you a chance to find joy in everything you DO have, which leaves you feeling
5- An Inability to Celebrate Others:
Do you ever find yourself unable to clap for others when they succeed? Unable to wish them
well? The comparison trap will leave you wanting more for yourself and less for others.
If you relate to the above points, don’t be discouraged. There is always room for growth, and
there’s always a way out of the comparison trap. Internal work is uncomfortable, and rather
painful at times, but it brings healing and bears fruit.
Escaping the Comparison Trap:
1- Identify your triggers:
Is it social media? Is it a specific person in your life? Ask yourself, what about this is making me
jealous? How can I limit my exposure to my triggering factors?
2- The grass isn’t greener on the other side. it’s green where you water it!
Rather than focusing on what’s going on in their lives, focus on nurturing yourself. If someone
else gets what they’ve wished for, we never know what it took for them to get there. Frankly, we
shouldn’t focus too much about what it took for them to get there as much as what it will take for
us to get to where we want to be. This season, be intentional on listing your own goals and
ways to reach them.
3- Practice gratitude:
The easiest way to shift your perspective is to count your own blessings. Journal little things that
you’re grateful for, and title that journal entry as “million little miracles”. Write things down that
are going right, no matter how little. There is so much to be grateful for that you may not savor
or enjoy if you don’t shift your focus to it. For example, if you tend to struggle with being
comfortable in your body, look at what it can do instead! Repeat this affirmation to yourself – “I’m
grateful for my healthy body and legs that take me places”.
4- Understand that more for others doesn’t mean less for you:
Train yourself to be happy for others, because we shouldn’t operate from a place of lack. There
is room and space for everyone to go after what they want, and each person’s plan and journey
is tailor-made for them. Set a reminder, write a note, or repeat this affirmation to yourself – “More
for others doesn’t mean less for me’’.
5- Know that you DON’T know it all:
Who would have ever guessed that supermodel Bella Hadid would be battling through – and
openly discussing- body image issues and depression? We don’t know other people’s struggles,
battles, and insecurities as well as we think we do. We view other people’s circumstances
through rose-colored glasses, when in reality we know nothing about what they’re living through.
Next time you compare yourself to anyone on social media, tell yourself – “It’s not fair to
compare my lowest lows with someone’s highest highs, and I don’t know as much as I think I
Escaping the comparison trap is a struggle, but it’s also a conscious decision that we make. Our
habits, lifestyles, and thoughts are all formed by little decisions that we choose to make. By
choosing to focus on our goals, we not only nurture ourselves but also our relationships with
Reflection Questions/ Journaling Prompt
● How does social media impact your self-image? Does it reinforce the comparison trap?
● Is there a person in your life that you’ve been comparing yourself to? Why?
● What are three things that make you grateful for the life you have?
● What are three things that you love and appreciate about yourself?
● How can you start focusing on your own dreams and goals, and nurturing yourself?