The Real Problem with Comparison

I love Brené Brown‘s works.

Dr. Brown defines and disambiguates the deepest human emotions and debriefs them like none other.

In her latest epic, Atlas of the Heart, she dives into several such concepts – like comparison. What exactly is the problem with Comparison?

Though not an emotion in itself, it drives several other emotions..fear, anger, shame. Comparison wants us to be the best in the group. The best in our class, our team, our neighbourhood. But to stand out, we must first conform to the ways and traits of the group and fit in. The absurdity is just that- “Be like everyone else, but better”.

So then let’s stop comparing, end of story. Right? Easier said than done.

Social Comparison is the default mode we operate in. Why? Because we do not ‘always’ choose to make these comparisons. As social psychologists put it, comparisons ‘happen’ to us.

Even if we would like not to, it is tough to not engage in comparison with an intelligent person you hear or a good looking person you see or wealthy person you know. We are hardwired that way.

The good news?
Apply the golden rule- We cant choose what happens to us but we can choose how to deal with it.

Realize that we can fall prey to comparison. Stay aware. When we catch ourselves engaging in such comparisons that drive emotions like envy or jealousy (two different emotions by the way) – acknowledge it and Choose to handle it. The ‘handling’ part, and more, is the book.

The next time we tell someone “Don’t compare yourself with xyz”..let’s think twice. Sometimes it’s not on purpose. Sometimes acknowledging that comparison is natural and helping a kid or friend or teammate deal with it relieves the stress of unnecessary guilt.

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