I’m betting that people have been tempted to compare themselves to others since the dawn of time.


In the late 1800’s, Theodore Roosevelt was quoted saying,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”


And although the comparison trap has been around as long as humans have walked the earth… I’d also bet that it’s been amped up by the introduction of social media.


Think about it.  Just 15 years ago… the only way you would see someone’s vacation pictures is if you went over to their house and they pulled out photo albums from the book shelf… and you sat and looked at them at the kitchen table.  NOTE: There were no selfies in the bunch!


But… obviously… that’s not how it works now.


Today… apparently… over 60% of Americans have at least one social media account.


And a majority of us spend over an hour on social media every day.


In the past, you could compare yourself to your neighbors… to your co-workers… to the people you run into at the store… but it was mostly limited to the people you actually saw each day.


Now… we can compare ourselves to people all around the world… and it’s at our finger tips… any time we want.


And let’s face it… the comparison trap can slip in in different ways.


We see someone’s vacation photos… or a new car… a new house… in our feed… and whammy… we get hit.


I’ll give you a personal example… I was scrolling through Facebook recently and someone posted a TED talk.  I thought I’d go for a little personal development so I watched it.  At first I was really impressed.  The speaker was doing an incredible job and he was obviously having a big impact on the audience.


But then… I started to fall into the comparison trap.


I thought, “Man… that guy is better at really sticking the point.  He’s funny.  He’s smooth.  He’s authentic.  He’s nailing it.”


Next… the negative self-talk started to flow.


The comparison trap.


“I don’t… I never… he’s better… I’ve missed it.”


If you don’t get hit with this… well you can stop the reading this right now.  But if you do… stay with me.


We’re always going to see other people.


There’s always going to be the temptation to compare.


But I have a phrase that’s helped when I start to feel like I’m slipping into the comparison trap.

“Learn from… don’t compare to.”


In the case of the speaker’s video… I caught myself and said…


“Okay… what can I learn from what he’s doing?”

Instead of comparing… I shifted my thinking towards what I could learn.


Granted… I’m a bit of a dork… so I started to analyze his timing… his cadence.  I started to think about his delivery.


But now… instead of moving into the negative self-talk that can come with comparison… I stayed with the learning part of my brain.


I asked myself some questions.

•    What could I learn from that?
•    What do I want to try next time?
•    What’s something he’s doing that I want to experiment with?

Yup.  I asked some questions.  That helped my brain to engage.  That helped me to stay out of the comparison trap.  And it helped me to do something productive with my thinking.


Because here’s the thing.  We never set out to compare ourselves.  We don’t wake up and go to Facebook saying to ourselves, “I can’t wait to compare myself to _________ today.”  That’s not how it works.  It’s all at deeper… subconscious levels.  So we need to engage our brain and stay aware of the comparison trap in order to stay out of it… or get out of it.


Now… you might say, “Well that might work in the case of your job.  But what about those vacation photos or new car pics… or happy family photos?”


It can still apply.

When I see some of those pics… and I start to feel comparison creep in I:

First:  Remind myself that no one’s world is perfect.  Everyone’s fighting some kind of battle today.

Second: I remind myself that I don’t know how they paid for it.  They might have worked hard and saved up for it… or a rich relative might have given it to them.  I don’t know, but literally I try to say a little prayer saying no matter what… I hope it blesses them.

And on my best days… I then I move into question mode.

(I’m not perfect at this… but I’m getting better every day.)


A.) I ask… do I really want that?

Not in some sort of grumpy pants sour grapes kind of way… but do I REALLY want it?


B.) If so… then I ask what are some ways I can start to make that happen?



C.) If so… I ask “What’s something small but significant I can start to do today to make it happen?”

•    Do some research?
•    Open a bank account to start saving for that thing?
•    Have a conversation about it being a goal… a dream?
•    Maybe even reach out to the person to ask them how they did it.


The stuff that’s trivial doesn’t make it past a few questions or the first action item.  The important stuff does.


See… I believe you can have anything you want… you just can’t have everything.

So figure out what you DO want… stay with it… and learn from people who’ve achieved it.



Oh… and once you have it… be sure to post some pics about it!

I can’t wait to see them on your feed.



Thanks for reading and sharing!!!


Lastly… if comparison trap isn’t something you deal with… awesome.  Good for you.  #stokedforyou  But if it is… give this an amen… and comment below.  Let me know something you do to beat the comparison trap back with a stick!

Mitch Matthews

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