Have you ever compared yourself to another person?
If you’re human–and honest–you probably answered “yes.”
The truth is that we all have compared ourselves to others–in lesser or greater degrees at sometime in our lives. Comparing ourselves to another seems to be part of the human experience–usually not the most desirable part. Our comparisons are usually to help us feel superior to someone else or inferior–although much is done on an unconscious level.
When there are relationship challenges like jealousy and trust issues, comparisons to others usually end up making us feel less than and not enough–and even though we know they don’t help.
We can’t seem to stop doing them.
Today, we received a message from a woman who thanked us for our advice and told us that her relationship is “stronger and they are more open and honest with each other” because of it.
The problem is–
Even though her partner is no longer in contact with his ex’s, she finds that she compares herself to them anyway. She makes herself miserable and she can’t stop, even though she knows that it’s not healthy for her relationship.
This “comparison disease” that she suffers from is certainly not unique to her or to her situation. We’re guessing that you can identify to a certain extent (we all can) to what she’s feeling.
So, how can you stop?
We love Dr. Wayne Dyer’s new book Excuses Begone! where he talks about how to change lifelong, self-defeating thinking habits.
We think that contracting the “comparison disease” may fall into the category of an excuse and here’s why…
In saying this, we’re certainly NOT belittling this woman’s problem or making her wrong. We’ve certainly had some self-defeating thinking habits and continue to do it from time to time–that would fall under the category of “excuses.”
Here’s our take on it…
When you are comparing yourself to others and always come up short, you are focusing outside yourself and what you are NOT instead of what you can be.
We use phrases like these to keep us from what we want:
“I’m not as pretty (or good-looking) as…”
“I’m not as smart as…”
“I’m not as young as…”
“I’m not as thin as…”
“I don’t make as much money as…”
This type of thinking is an “excuse.”
It’s a way to stay small and not take risks.
Comparisons like these are also great ways to end up being like or having the negative experience that you fear or doubt.
Now of course, much of this mental gymnastics that goes on when we’re comparing ourselves to others is unconscious and from habit.
When the two of us first got together, our age difference caught us up in the “comparison disease.”
Since Susie is 16 years older than Otto, she compared herself to women his age and of course, came up short in her mind. Otto started thinking about the future, comparing the then present to 20 years down the road–what our relationship (and bodies) might look like when Susie is in her 70’s and he, in his 50’s.
We realized that we had to both stop making these comparisons if we wanted to create the kind of relationship that we wanted to create.
If we hadn’t stopped, our relationship wouldn’t have had a chance to grow and go on to be as incredible as it is now.
How do you stop making these comparisons that so often work to your disadvantage in creating the relationships and life you want?
Here are a few ideas…
1. Become aware that you are doing it.
Awareness is the first step in making any change. Believe it or not, your comparisons start losing their power over you when you start noticing them when they come up.
Notice them from an objective place.
You can even say something like this to yourself–“Isn’t that interesting? I’m comparing myself to my partner’s ex and he’s not even in contact with her.” It’s like you’re talking to yourself but instead of agreeing with your fears, you’re actually just stating a fact.
2. Choose love not fear.
Even though you may not realize it and it may even sound silly, it might be out of your comfort level to commit to creating a close, connected loving relationship–one without drama and pain.
In the beginning of our relationship, it was far easier for Susie to believe that Otto would leave her for someone younger than to go for what she wanted–and create it with him.
In other words, fear got in her way.
But in our case, we chose to risk going for it –going for love–and you can too.
3. Stay in the present moment–not the past or the future.
We’ve said this many times–the present moment is all we have.
If you really stopped to think about it, most of your pain (and ours as well) is the result of living in the past or the future.
When your thoughts lapse into worrying about what happened in the past–maybe about your partner’s ex’s–or fear of what might happen in the future, bring yourself gently back to the present moment.
You can remind yourself by grounding yourself and saying something like this…
“It’s 3pm, Friday afternoon, I’m sitting in my office and I have work in front of me.”
“I’m sitting in front of my partner and we’re having a good time right now.”
Getting over the “Comparison Disease” involves focusing on you and your thoughts.
When you find that you are tempted to compare yourself unfavorably to others, stop yourself–focus instead on what’s in front of you in this present moment and on love, not fear.
To change any habitual thought, it takes one moment at a time.
Be kind to yourself.