Saturday, November 24, 2012

playing the comparison game

Walking in the room, I did the first thing I do every time I walk into a room. I looked around at the people who were there. Not so much looking for someone I know, as making a quick comparison of myself to those who are already there.

How are they dressed? Am I dressed the same?
How successful are they in life?
How popular are they?

Those are just some of the many questions that run through my mind.

The comparison game. We've probably all played it at one time or another.

Sometimes we walk away from it feeling good about ourselves. Our comparisons put us in the better position than those we were comparing ourselves to.

Sometimes we walk away from it feeling bad about ourselves. We lost the comparison game that time. At least, in our eyes we did.

Why do we do this to ourselves? How did we get stuck in the trap of playing the comparison game? How do we get out of it?

I'm not even usually aware that I'm playing the comparison game. I realize after that I played it, because I either feel good about myself or bad about myself, depending on whether I won or lost in my mind. There are times when I know I'm playing it, because the conversation is all about figuring out which person is the best. But, most of the time the comparison game happens subtly.

We live in a society that tells values people based on their popularity. We follow celebrities. We seek to be the popular one in the group. And this gets us stuck in the trap of the comparison game. We're taught how to play it from day one.

To get out of the trap, we have to decide to do so. We can't stop playing if we don't stop on purpose. We have to choose not to play. It's not easy, because it goes against what we're told.

The easiest way I've found to stop playing is to intentionally look for something to compliment someone on or encourage them with - especially if they're someone I would usually compare myself to. I've found this works for both situations - where I would compare and feel good about myself and I would compare and feel bad about myself. It takes the focus off of how we look in comparison and focuses on the other person.

How are you doing at playing the comparison game?
Are you stuck in the trap of it?
Do you need to get out of that trap?

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