Comparing ourselves to others can serve as an extra motivation to set goals and succeed. However, it also comes with many disadvantages. Like harboring resentments and a whole host of others.
In this blog, I am going to share with you how comparing ourselves to others leads to resentments and 7 other detriments.
If comparing ourselves with others only steals our joy in life as Theodore Roosevelt rightly said it would be a problem but not that big of a deal.
Unfortunately, the cons are more than my two hands can count which sure makes it a very big issue that we should actively deal with. As promised, let’s check out 8 of them.
Taking the number 8 spot is low self-esteem. When you compare yourself with others, you don’t just resent yourself and the guy next door but lose confidence in your worth.
A 2014 study of Facebook users on Social Comparison, Social Media, and Self-esteem revealed that after some users were exposed to social comparison, “they had a poorer state of self-esteem and gave themselves lower evaluations”.
Delphine Blanc, a certified professional life coach, and a hypnosis practitioner, went on to add that as you compare yourself to others, you begin to feel smaller and smaller. She claims as this happens, we tend to change “our perception of our job, our relationships, and our entire life…as our mind has the tendency to focus more on the negative”.
That is, you compare your negative personalities with other exceptional qualities, ignoring your outstanding qualities. All of these end up making us feel not worthy, impacting our self-esteem.
Know that low-self esteem often comes from what Leon Festinger, a psychologist categorized under Upward Social Comparison in his social comparison theory proposed in 1954.
That’s because with Upward Social Comparison, we compare ourselves with people in a better situation than us and this could easily lead to resentments.
In an article published by Psychological Bulletin, it revealed that despite the many disadvantages of Upward Social Comparison, an increasing number of people go down this road compared to Downward Social Comparison.
Downward Social Comparison is when we liken ourselves to people who are in less admirable positions than us. In The Dark Side of Social Comparison, a study by Judith White and her colleagues, a team of psychologists, claimed that Downward Social Comparison positively affects us as we feel better about ourselves.
Of course, it does stop there. Whether Upward or Downward, Social Comparison has lots of disadvantages, which takes us to number 7.
Another study this time published by the American Psychological Association revealed that Downward Social Comparison also leads to increased fear and anxiety. This was after people who saw cancer patients and comparing both their situations.
Instead of relief that you would expect, they felt more afraid and developed anxiety. Even when the researcher applied Upward Social Comparison, which is with cancer patients better off than them, these people became depressed and frustrated.
So you see, either way, it is still bad news for us.
That sounds extreme, right? Yes, I know but that’s what happens when we never seem to stop comparing ourselves with others.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with low self-esteem, fear, or feeling depressed. In the Dark Side of Social Comparison study, White and her team revealed that low self-esteem could lead to neuroticism. Neuroticism is among the big five higher-order personality traits.
Neurotic people respond extremely to stressors. Worse, they are more than likely to interpret ordinary and non-threatening situations, such as minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Other symptoms include, self-consciousness, shyness, and trouble controlling urges, and also delaying gratifications.
Pretty deep right? Yeah, I know. That’s what a very simplistic attitude like comparing yourself with others could do.
At number 6, know that comparison leads to resentment. This is the joy deprivation Roosevelt was talking about, and Karyn Hall, a certified clinician, and therapist, further verified this. You begin to feel unnecessary hate towards yourself; this limits your chances of experiencing happiness.
What makes this a whole lot worse is that nobody is taking that happiness away from us; we do it with our hands. And then you have to also deal with begrudging others for reasons they can’t do anything about. Thus, punishing them while we chastise ourselves.
Resentment resulting from comparing ourselves with others is one of the 8 detriments that we will look at that we can see affecting our daily lives. Let’s check the remaining 5.
At number 4, when we liken ourselves to others, we unknowingly have just given them the steering wheels to our lives. Yes, they become our controller. This is how this works.
Let’s say you are a writer; you came across a book and loved how the author expresses his or her ideas. This leaves you wishing you could do something like that disregarding the simple fact that writing styles are unique to the writers. What do you do now? You end up trying to copy that author's style. See what I am on about?
At your undoing, you have allowed this author to manipulate your writing style, thus controlling you. It’s funny and downright frustrating that neither of you knows that this is happening. Apply this illustration in other aspects of your life, and you will see it come into play.
Ask yourself, do you want to rule your life or allow someone else to?
While you think about that let’s check out number 3 on our list. And this is how comparison stalls our progress in life. Brenda Raftlova, a self-development advocate and coach, says “if you spend your days comparing yourself to other people’s achievements, you’ll never get anything accomplished”.
Comparing yourself with others doesn’t just leave you hating on yourself and others unnecessarily, negatively impacting your self-esteem and giving someone else control over your life, no that’s all of it.
It holds you back from accomplishing anything in life. Raftlova further wrote that this happens because you “waste your precious time” following other's dreams and goals.
There is no doubt that there is some positivity resulting from comparing ourselves with others but the negatives are just so overwhelming. Let’s learn more about them.
Taking the number 2 spot is how this habit has no end despite the magnitude of an accomplishment. So, if you eventually manage to break free and become successful in life, you will still end up comparing yourself with others.
OK, now you have envied your colleague's success at work. When you strive and end up achieving as much success, you will look for something, anything else about that colleague to begin comparing yourself with all over again. It is an unending process.
White and her team verified this that social comparison teaches a person to make more, and more frequent, social comparisons, leading the individual “to become dependent on social comparisons.”
Finally, at number 1, comparison can lead to an unhealthy dose of competitiveness, which could induce a Machiavellian world view on someone. This is from GoodTherapy, a community of therapists.
With this view, you are likely to take drastic actions to be like those you are comparing yourself to or even better than them. GoodTherapy adds that “a Machiavellian person may threaten rivals, steal resources, or tell lies to get ahead.”
The Dark Side of Social Comparison study even went further to verify this claim establishing the fact that two studies reviewed revealed that frequent social comparison leads to a range of destructive emotions and behaviors.
Some of these are directed at the self like guilt. While some of these emotions are directed to others such as lying. Imagine this.
That’s it. From harboring resentment to having a Machiavellian world view, those are 8 different detriments of comparing ourselves with others.
Here are a few things you can take from all of this. First, from what we have learned comparing ourselves with others doesn’t only affect us psychologically; that is low self-esteem and the rest.
It also extends to affecting us physically. That is, having few or no friends resulting from resentments. Lastly, although it leads to loss of identity when we compare ourselves with them, it could spiral into something as extreme as becoming a Machiavellian.
Now tell us, have any more ideas on the downsides of comparing yourself with others? I mean real-life experiences. Share them in the comment section below, and let’s have a conversation.