It is our intrinsic nature, from inception Mothers constantly compare their babies. So it's not surprising that as small children we grow up comparing ourselves to our friends, siblings and classmates and most schools foster a hugely competitive learning environment which adds fuel to the fire.
I grew up in the rural English countryside and my earliest memories of school are littered with endless examples. How tall we were, how quickly we learnt to ride our bikes, how good we were at reading, how quickly we could tie our laces, what grades we got and it went on and on.
I was top of the class, head of the sports teams and third tallest girl in my class so what if I wasn't the first to tie my laces! Seriously though, it didn't stop there, through my teenage years the comparisons continued who was the most popular, smartest and most attractive. Through university, the most fun, the most ambitious, the most likely to succeed. Then income, job title, designer wardrobes, partners, houses, it's exhausting.
After a while it becomes a toxic rollercoaster of a ride that sucks the joy out of everything!
The advent of Social Media, is when it all started crashing down. Who hasn't found themselves on a rampage, perhaps dare I say it after a drink or four scrolling through endless images on Instagram, exploring the dark depths of LinkedIn or reading post after post on Facebook just to find one small nugget that make us feel that we've come out on top, that we've won the comparison game!
What ultimately happens is that continued comparison makes us feel inadequate, infinitely more anxious and undermines our sense of worth. So if you want to quit the game, follow these three simple steps.
1. Stop Looking Through Rose Tinted Glasses
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and see countless cute animal pictures (what's not to love) but when we start comparing ourselves to others things can get out of hand. You're seeing the highlights of everyone's life through a filter, and people look damn fine through those filters. Let's be honest we all know it's not reality! It's time to take off the glasses and get real, spend time with your friends. You'll find out the reality is far less glamorous and you'll both feel happier and more connected for doing so.
2. Remember We're Not Like For Like
Apples aren't oranges and nor are they pears! We're all totally unique and that's what makes us so special. From our DNA to the way we interpret the world and that really is a good thing. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same. So embrace your uniqueness and dare I say it weird ways because we all have them and you'll start appreciating yourself and others far more.
3. Be Grateful For What You Have
Sometimes it's difficult to forget how lucky we really are. On a packed tube in London's rush hour is one of those times granted but just think you could be your Grandad having to walk 4 miles to work, in the driving snow!! Seriously though, when we take a moment to be grateful each day for even the simplest of things, be that a warm bed or a hearty meal you do start to feel much happier and more content.
As Roosevelt said "Comparison is the Thief of Joy" so stop comparing and starting living your life with joy.