Irrational Thinking Part I: Comparison

In every moment we have a choice. Not only in the decisions we make, but in the thoughts we follow. Let’s examine this by exploring common thoughts we all have and two options of where we can take them, or rather, where they can take us if we’re not being conscious of them.

A common complaint I hear is how unhappy people are with their current state; how unsuccessful they feel, how slowly they are getting to where they want to be, and so forth. When we get into how they are measuring these “not enoughs” it is often the comparison of their perceived truths about others, a very slippery slope. These can be based on what we see on social media (which we know can lead to depression), what people say in casual conversation, or what we assume about those around us.

The first, but not the best option.
Comparing yourself to others is the first option you can choose to follow when a common thought comes up about self-worth and not being enough.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison of others based on perceived truths as facts. The truth is, we don’t know what life lies behind our coworker’s ever-present smile and perfectly pressed suit, or the facebook post of our friend’s family portrait on the beach. It can be dangerous to go down the path of comparison. Here’s why:

• Our perception of the lives of others are fictions with no logical end. Example: She looks like she’s having so much fun with her kids on the beach. I bet they are so well behaved and never give her any trouble. I bet her husband dotes on her constantly. She probably isn’t working anymore because he’s making a ton of money. I think they moved, their new house is probably very spacious and must be closer to the beach…etc, etc. ad nauseum.

• Following this thought path makes it matter, and the truth is: It does not matter. Nothing that anyone else does or does not do or have has any bearing on your life or what you are currently going through. This is not meant to be harsh; this is meant to be the wake up call you may need to realize the danger of comparison. The truth is your life is what you make of it, everyday, in each decision.

Now for the other option.
Imagine if you could completely let go of the burden of comparing yourself to others and the consequences of those thoughts; 10 minutes/2 hours/1 full day of feeling “less than”. Imagine the freedom of taking responsibility for only your own thoughts, choices and actions. My friends, this is possible for you in every choice you make.

When you choose to let go of comparing yourself to others and bring the focus back on yourself and the actions you take, or don’t take, to move your life in the direction of your goals, this is a truly freeing experience. You no longer have to spend time and energy creating possible truths for others.

If you, a friend or family member is suffering from these and other similar issues, check out some of my other resources and blogs on topics of self-care, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me so I may offer some help.

To your good mental health,
~Noel McDermott