Isn’t comparing ourselves to others an essential part of being a person? Who doesn’t at some point look at a more attractive, wealthier, more educated, more successful, younger friend, colleague, family member and say to ourselves, “they have such a good life, why can’t I have that person, thing, personality, body type…?”
There is a book I read years ago called Happiness Is a Serious Problem and one of the points the author makes is that the “happiest people are the people we don’t know very well.” I have liked this quip because it gets at a reality about human life:
We are experts at hiding our struggles, doubts, insecurities, negative feelings from others and even from ourselves. So, when the comparison thoughts come–and they always do–we are left with our own imperfect lives up against the image–not the reality– of the person we assume is so happy and thriving. The results of this comparison can leave us feeling bad or worse.
In therapy, we can learn to see our strengths, weaknesses and blind spots in non-judgemental ways to help us connect to people in a real way (rather than through the image of comparison).