Social comparison: Why your life can’t be compared with other chumps?

By Rochi | Psychology

Jun 14

Admit it.

We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to our peers
movie stars
or our parents.

Guilty? Because we all know how bad it is for our self-esteem, can cause depression and even sacrifice our ability to trust others

Being aware of this, we all secretly or openly do it.


Why do we compare ourselves to others?

According to Festinger’s Social Comparison Theory, we do this in order to make accurate evaluations of ourselves. Leon also says that comparison is necessary for knowing the truth about ourselves, or for defining ourselves. 

Or we do it because our parents always told us to have grades like Johnny and waistlines like Barbie.

We determine our social and personal growth on comparing it with others. And maybe sometimes it’s necessary for precise assessing of ourselves.

But all this comes at what cost?

Most of us understand that comparison is draining, foolish and time-killing. We readily accept that no good ever comes out of it.

Yet, we’re all sorry of doing it sometime or another. We catch ourselves falling in this glossy trap frequently.

I believe if we understood why comparison is unrealistic and unhealthy, we’d be able to get to the roots and chop them off from growing.

So, here I give you five reasons why your life cannot be compared with others:

1. It’s limitless

Let’s face it: The comparison game never ends.

You might get a bigger paycheck, a more expensive car, a sexier partner and yet, someone is going to have a better house than you.

There are billions of people on this planet: some of which will always have more than you and some of which will always have less.

You’d look at others and wish you had that too.

Or, you’d look downwards and pass judgments on others to make yourself feel better.

One makes you feel inferior and one makes you feel superior.

Neither makes you feel happy.

Upward comparison can lead to dejection and downward comparison can make you feel sadness and worry.  

Even if you do feel good about yourself for a split second by looking down on someone, you take pleasure in their failures and misfortunes.

And this joy is never equal to happiness.

2. It kills happiness

People think that if you get envious of someone at work, you might work harder and do better.

Or if you compare to someone less fortunate, you might feel gratitude towards life.

Neither of which is true.

If you clearly think about it, you benchmark your worth on others’ achievements and failures.

“Michael has a better car than I have, I should strive and get the best one.”
“Julie earns more than I do with the same experience, I should try to get promoted and earn more.”

We tend to forget that,

net worth ≠ self worth.

And it’s not just materialism that we compare.

“He has a smarter partner than I have, maybe I should break up with her and hook up with someone more intelligent.”

“She is slimmer than I am. So, I should hit the gym and have a thinner waistline.”

And you might get the smartest woman in the world or the smallest size on the store, and you may even feel good about yourself.

But that doesn’t last. And that isn’t an accurate measure of who you are.

Soon, someone else will get the best interior designer and have a better home.

Or someone will have someone you can never have.

It spirals back to point number 1. The list is endless.

Instead of placing your happiness on someone else’s life, be you.

You cannot be the best in anything except at being yourself.

When you feel dejected, appreciate what life has offered you. When you judge, have empathy and realize what someone else goes through.

And what someone else displays of their lives isn’t what it actually is, anyway….

3. You don’t compare accurately

You compare in the following ways:

Your worst VS Someone’s Best
Your best VS Someone’s Worst

But, there is much more to you than your best or worst parts.

So does everyone.

Everyone’s got their goodies to put on the table. Everyone has got their worst sides too.

But all of this is a part of their journey. Not yours. Comparing your journey with someone’s else’s may seem like a healthy form of competition. 

But you may have roses on your journey now and they may have thorns.

What I mean is, your journey is unique to you. Don’t compare your path with someone else.

Because literally, you have no idea what is going on their lives.

Someone might get promoted at work over you, but you may have a healthier social life.

Or someone may earn less than you, and still have innate talents that you don’t possess.

As comedian Tom Shillue explains that everyone is a package deal. 

You never really want someone else’s life, you want your own life better.

You want to have all the bests of someone and never their pain.

We worry more about how well others are doing rather than how well we are doing ourselves.

And you’re happy with less, but not if anyone else has more.

Instead of doing what’s best for you, you do what−in your mind−is above other people.

When you compare your mundane life with someone else’s Instagram life, you are bound to have low self-esteem.

Because what people portray on social media websites, isn’t what their life is.

Do you ever post pictures of yourself crying in the bathroom? Do you viral a video of you and your partner fighting?

If someone asks you “How are you doing?”, do you ever say, “Life sucks. I haven’t been able to work and have a deadline tomorrow. My husband keeps fighting with me and I cried yesterday because I’m loosing my mind.”

You just hold back and say, “Everything’s going great!”

A study in Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin has found that people are less likely to reveal their positive emotions than their negative emotions.

It also found that we overestimate the positiveness in someone else’s life than negativeness.

So, it’s not just incomplete information you compare yourself with, it’s also distorted.

Next time you catch yourself comparing your real life with someone else’s reel life, hold back and remember that you don’t have all the information.

Comparison can turn something beautiful in someone to something cruel. So, instead of peeking on someone else’s life, look inside your own.

Compare yourself with your past self. That’s the only one you should be better than.


We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves with others. Everyone knows that it could harm relationships, (when turned into extreme form of competition) damage your self-esteem and put you through unnecessary stress.

In this article, I got to the root cause, why your life is incomparable to anyone else’s.

1. It’s endless

Literally, get everything you can and possess all the skills in the world, there’s still going to be someone who is doing better than you. If you list all the attributes you want to be above in—cars, homes, partner, social life etc—you’re still behind someone who has more. And ahead someone who has less. The solution is to not get into any comparisons at all.

2. It kills happiness

The gratitude you feel over someone else’s failures isn’t healthy. The motivation you get to get a slimmer waist isn’t nourishing either. Neither upward comparison nor downward comparison is going to keep you happy. You may get some short-term happiness, but it doesn’t endure forever. It isn’t something that gives your soul true joy. Comparison can turn something beautiful into something cruel. Helping others below you and appreciating others above you is what will keep you happy and satisfied.

3. It’s inaccurate

Your mind compares best VS worst. Comparing your best skill with X’s worse ability isn’t accurate and vice-versa. Also, if you fantasize someone else’s life, you don’t imagine getting the worse parts of them. You desire having Y’s social life, Z’s money and A’s house. You cannot have the best of everyone, each is a package deal. Y maybe poverty stricken, Z may have no time for his family and A may be struggling to pay the bills. Having your own life better is what you really want.

So, compare yourself with your past self. Are you a better conversationalist than you were before? Have you improved in your social life? Does your boss like you better?

What has comparison taught you? Is there anything you learnt that you’d like to share? I’d love to know in the comment section below!

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