I suffer from what I call ‘comparison syndrome’. It surely is the key thing that creates havoc and emotional pain in my life. What’s worse, this comparison syndrome doesn’t stay just with me, it also happens to me with respect to my children. And the pain and anguish which results shames me greatly.
“Comparison is a slippery slope to jealousy” – Danielle LaPorte
I can recall the first tangible episode of my comparison syndrome. I was in Year 8 and we received the results of our science test. I looked at my mark and was so happy to see my result 86%. But then I looked over at my friend and saw that she had scored a higher mark than me. I remember that surge of jealousy as I compared my mark to hers and thought about how much each of us had studied for the test. Rather than feel happy for her, I remember forming this steely resolution to do my best to beat her. And I eventually did but it never felt fulfilling because I was driven by negativity, not by an inner conviction to be the best I could be.
These days comparison syndrome plays out in a different way for me. I (stupidly) follow many kinesiologists on Facebook and Instagram and find myself reading about what they do and what they are achieving and end up feeling ‘less than’. This doesn’t spur me to compete but instead I find myself thinking along the lines of “what is wrong with my work?” or “I’m not good enough!”. It’s just so incredibly toxic.
“Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” – Danielle LaPorte
So here I stand, feeling vulnerable and exposed, telling you that comparison syndrome can still be a challenge for me.
Last year I discussed my secret little shame with my kinesiologist. I was embarrassed to admit it to her but I really wanted to work on it so we could clear the underlying issues. Post balance I am now more conscious of how I respond to social media posts, and adjust myself as needed, whether that be to unfollow someone if they constantly trigger me or, even better, just spend less time on social media.
I actually think this ‘comparison syndrome’ is becoming a widespread problem. Do you know that every client I have ever worked with has mentioned some form of comparison to either a sibling, friend, or work colleague? Social media is usually what drives it. The tendency for people to display the show reel of their lives leaves us feeling as though we aren’t enough, don’t have enough, aren’t pretty enough, or that we are boring, unsuccessful, unpopular … well the list goes on.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Are you letting someone else steal your joy without them even realising it?