Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap? That’s when you’re going along in life and then you see someone else with something you really want or doing something that you really want to do and suddenly you’re frustrated with yourself or your life. I love me some social media at times (mostly to keep up with family and friends and posting ridiculous amounts of pictures of my boys to drive them crazy) but I do realize that it can trigger some definite comparison envy.
- How can he be looking at that fabulous apartment/condo when I know I can’t afford something like that
- She can afford a new car when I can’t?
- When did they do that fabulous bathroom remodel?
- How many vacations have they taken this year?
- Is their house really that clean all the time?
- How can they afford that fancy gym membership? I can’t and I make more money then they do.
Social Media Doesn’t Always Show The “Real” Truth
Most people aren’t going to post on Facebook their house when it looks like someone just came in and ransacked it. They might post the picture of the 2 dozen roses and gourmet dinner but not the nasty fight that led to those roses and gourmet dinner. I have no problem putting the good and the bad out there, lol. Just a disclaimer here: You can search my profile and probably find several posts with the word “knucklehead” when referring to my darling boys. You’ll also find me complaining about my messy house, and I’ll let you know I’m a lazy cook and have cereal for breakfast more times than I probably should as an adult. Not everyone shares that though, lol.
Our Backgrounds Are Probably Not The Same
How many of you reading this lost a husband when you were 25, leaving you as a single parent of two very young children? My guess is probably no one, although I can name off probably 5 friends that have lost spouses in different circumstances leaving them as the sole parent.
I have friends that have gone through divorces…I haven’t.
I have friends that have gone through bankruptcies…I haven’t.
I know people that have lost children…thank you Jesus, I haven’t.
Some people I know are single with much more disposable income. Some are married with two sources of income coming in. Most don’t have children with expensive chronic diseases. Some have student loans, some don’t.
My point is…don’t assume you know everyone’s circumstances. Also don’t assume that their circumstances are the same as yours.
Your Family and Friend’s Priorities May Not Be The Same As Yours
I really want a different car. I also really want an upgraded condo with better laundry. Guess what I want more though? I want to be debt free and I want to be able to help my kids on their financial journeys. Those two things are much more important to me than buying a Honda Accord or a nice, newer place.
Your priority might be having an expensive gym membership because your health and your personal fitness is most important to you. I briefly had an expensive membership to a boxing club and I loved it! It was the best workout I ever had. One day I’ll probably re-join that expensive membership club but right now my financial priorities are more important to me so I make do with my $10 Planet Fitness membership.
Your priority might be taking a vacation three times a year. That’s awesome. I hope to get to that stage in life too at some point. Right now the money is not there though so I will have to live vicariously through you and your Facebook posts.
Crawling Out of the Comparison Trap
Limit your social media exposure if it’s making you feel bad. I’ve blocked or limited my exposure to a lot of people this last year or two. I don’t care which side of the fence you’re on, I don’t need to see the hatred spewed over political posts or your conspiracy theories about the Coronavirus. Spoiler alert…it’s real…I know because I was crazy sick with it.
List out your priorities and what’s most important to you in your life. Actually write them down on paper…go ahead…I’ll wait… I do this occasionally when I feel down in the dumps. I have sooo much to be thankful for in my life. Overall my life is headed in a very good direction. My boys are making big strides in their “grown-up lives”. I have a stable job. I have good friends that hopefully I can see again soon on a regular basis once we all get our vaccines.
Realize that someone else might be much further down the path than you are. They may even be on a totally different path. That’s okay. Forge your own path!
Instead of comparing yourself to someone that you think has so much more than you do, compare yourself to someone with much less. How often do we do that? It’s easy to say John and Jane have new cars and a fancy house and a cabin on the lake, why can’t I have those things? Try thinking about your friend who is a single mom with no child support coming in and working two or three jobs and still wondering how she’s going to pay for her rent and car payment and groceries. Maybe your life isn’t that hard after all??
Comparing your life to others isn’t necessarily always bad. Truthfully, I think it’s natural to do that to an extent. It can even be helpful sometimes if it leads you to set bigger and better goals for yourself. Like most things in life, you have to find the right balance though. Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought.
As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to share with your friends and sign up for my email list.