The Comparison Game
What's at the top of your gratitude list? How about the top 3?
Take 60 seconds to make a list of everything you are grateful for in this moment. Try not to think too much, just write.
Keep your list for the end.
As you scroll through your social media feeds you will no doubt see some posts that trigger a mixed emotional response. I don't mean the ridiculous posts that make you wonder why you follow that person... In this case I want to focus on the posts that look awesome.
Somebody you know or follow just got nominated for Grammy, hit 90,000 subscribers, took a great vacation, started a new innovative business, fell in love, got married, had a kid, bought some dream house or car, lost a ton of weight, climbed some challenging mountain or other such epic adventure, completed a prestigious degree or program, ran a marathon, made a delicious meal, had time to watch a full season of whatever on Netflix, etc, etc. The list goes on and on with people doing awesome things of all sorts "big" and "small".
One emotion that might arise after seeing such posts is excitement. Another could be a sense of vicarious joy for that person. But seconds later other feelings start to kick in consciously or unconsciously. Jealously. Frustration. Self-judgement. Self-pity. Self-Doubt. Sadness.
Whoa, Whoa...What just happened? What are you sad and glad and mad... you don't know...
Why are you suddenly drinking a cocktail of not so fun emotions? You probably got dragged into the comparison game. This is totally normal and it can happen to any of us. Shedding some light on it by bringing it into your conscious awareness can help to remove some of the sting. Here's the thing: However cool your life is, someone else is always going to appear to "one up" you in all sorts of areas of life.
The comparison game happens any time you look at someone else and feel less than or greater than. At the moment we're talking about the side of the game where you feel less than someone based on what they have.
The interesting thing to consider is that although you may see a lot of awesomeness in your feed, only some of the posts trigger the "less than feelings". Why? It's a matter of relevance to what you desire. Let's say for example that you see something relating to a friend's child, but you don't really want a child or already have a child yourself. No big deal, no emotion triggers. Then you scroll down and see something related to someone who has built a fulfilling business and hit some major benchmark. You might fixate on it for a bit longer, at first thinking, wow that's really cool. Then you think about the less than fully fulfilling job you may have and unconsciously start the comparison game with some or all of those emotions mentioned above.
Try to notice it next time it happens. From here you have 2 steps to leverage the comparison game into something positive for you.
1) Take a look at the area of your life that was triggered. Determine if you want to and are willing to take action in that area of your life to up your game. What's a small, short term action you could take to move you in the direction of something equivalent in your life? Plan when can you do that action.
2) Go back to your gratitude list. Read it silently or out loud. Feel into the gratitude and relax based on either taking action from step 1 or choosing to keep things as they are consciously.
The comparison game can get you down, or can be used to embrace the awesomeness of your life. You choose.