The comparison trap

According to the science, we’re hardwired for comparison. It’s our human tendency to evaluate what we have in relation to what others have. We take a look, get out our internal measuring tape or scale and start “working the numbers”. We unconsciously take in everything from physical looks to career and monetary net worth, intelligence and education, upbringing and background, etc… you get the gist, and we rate ourselves in comparison to what others have going on.

So, it’s normal (such a laughable word, but I’ll allow it this time) to compare.

But it rarely serves us. Especially if we fall prey to the illusion that someone else’s having something is the reason we don’t. Or we fail to find pleasure in and subsequently abandon our own pursuits due to a belief that we don’t measure up.

What a trap!

To be hardwired for something that has the potential to block us from our potential.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to. Avoiding any trap simply involves becoming aware of the trap and navigating around it, so as not to fall in and become contained by it. In the case of comparison, navigating means acknowledging that since you will most likely engage in comparison, you must purposely adjust your perception of its meaning.

And acknowledge, when you find yourself engaging in it that it’s meaningless.


Learn the following positive affirmation and repeat it whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to others. (it also doesn’t hurt- if you’re in a position and location to do so- to drop and do a few pushups until you snap out of comparison mode. We’ll circle back to the power of pushups in a future post…)

“Comparison is a useless waste of my energy. What I need for my mission is individual to me.”

-LA Holmberg

Think of life as a pot-luck dinner. Some people are meant to bring the appetizers. Others are meant to bring beverages, side dishes, main dishes, desserts, etc… Then there’s tableware: cups, plates, utensils, and napkins. If my mission as part of this potluck is to bring potato salad, the ingredients I’ve been given to make potato salad are not going to be the same as the person next to me whose mission is to bring cookies. If I’m eyeballing his chocolate chips and throwing up my hands in self-pity and helplessness because he has chocolate chips and I don’t so I cease to complete my mission because of it, who will make the potato salad? That’s right- he was given what he needed for his mission, I was given what I needed. The ingredients are meant to be different because our outcomes were intended to be individually significant. Maintaining this individuality is what allows us to fully contribute to the collective goal: in this story, the pot-luck. In life, humanity.

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