• Samantha Fogel, Student Therapist

How To Stop Playing The Comparison Game



What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side?” For those who frequently find themselves making comparisons to others, this phrase has probably popped up at least once or twice. It entails the notion that we always assume others have it better than us, whether it be wealth, an attractive partner, popularity, a good physique, etc. With the addition of social media over the past 20+ years, it is getting harder and harder for us to avoid being bombarded by people constantly sharing about their lives in “highlight reels,” and it becomes incredibly difficult to not make comparisons.


As human beings, it is natural and normal to make comparisons to other people’s lives, whether that be in real life, or online. At times, making comparisons can act as a powerful motivator for those of us who are naturally more competitive and thrive off of that energy. However, when comparing ourselves and our lives to others gets out of hand, it can have a really negative impact on our mental health, self-worth, and self-esteem. As such, I will share with you a few important things to remember when it comes to not letting the comparison game impact your mental health and the way you view yourself.


Reminder #1: It is very unlikely for people to share their negative experiences or failures online


Imagine this: you are scrolling through Instagram, seeing smiling face after smiling face, pregnancy announcements, this person just graduated from their master’s program, this person just got engaged, this couple just bought a house. Oh, look at that: wedding photos! After about 10 minutes of scrolling, you notice your own smile starting to fade. The little voice in your head starts asking you what you are doing with your life, why you haven’t achieved what these people have, and you start to feel really bad about yourself. Now you are in a horrible mood for the rest of the day, you’re envious, but you can’t seem to get off of social media, and the cycle continues.


The next time you might find yourself in this situation, try to remind yourself that what you are seeing online is only a glimpse of what people want you to see: it is not always a true and accurate reflection of their lives. At the end of the day, social media presences are edited, curated, and filtered. People are typically not going to display images of themselves feeling insecure, feeling unattractive, or failing at something, despite the fact that every single one of us experiences these things at some point throughout our lives. So, when you find yourself getting stuck in the social media pity party “hole,” try to challenge whatever negative thoughts arise by reminding yourself that what you are seeing is just a highlight reel.


Reminder #2: Other people’s successes do not mean you are not succeeding or that you are failing


It is important to remember that just because it may feel like someone is doing better than you, or doing more than you in life, it doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person. Of course, you can allow yourself some space to feel bad, or jealous, but at some point, you need to be able to let go of that envy and resentment, and re-focus your energy on your own goals and the improvements you want to see in your life. It is counterproductive and damaging for your mental health to spend so much time ruminating over what other people are doing; instead, try your best to reinvest that energy into taking the necessary steps to giving yourself the life that you want and deserve. Remember, you can cheer on other people’s happiness or success while still believing in your own happiness and success.


Reminder #3: Everyone has their own timeline, and no one path is better than the other


When playing the comparison game, it is important to remember that everyone has their own timeline and path. Some people may get their dream job in their early 20s, whereas others may get their dream job at 40. Some people may be getting married and having kids before they’re 30, whereas some people may find their soulmate later in life and be just as happy. Some people may be lucky to find their passion very early in life, whereas others may try and try again until something finally clicks. The truth is, we all have vastly different wants, goals, interests, and needs, and so life is going to take a different shape for each and every person. Therefore, comparing your timeline to someone else’s is not going to serve anything except making you feel miserable and stuck, thereby hindering yourself from focusing on how you can achieve the life you want. It is okay and normal to feel lost and confused sometimes, but the next time you find yourself comparing your timeline and life path to someone else’s, try your best to be gentle and patient with yourself, and remind yourself that your path is as worthy and as valid as anyone else’s.