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Comparison is a Thief of Joy

What is it? 

A comparison is when a person examines how similar or different they are in relation to other people. Comparisons can be made in multiple different ways; some examples are: 

  • What they do or don’t have 
  • What they have or have not achieved 
  • What they should or shouldn’t be doing


What happens? 

This focus on comparisons to other people can lead a person to feel like they’re not good enough, or aren’t worthy compared to others. This can then decrease their self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. If it continues, the person might feel hopeless about their life or that they will not be able to measure up to others. The goals and aspirations they have may seem further and further away.


What to do 

  1. Notice what is happening: Increased awareness of your experience with comparison is the first step towards managing it and creating new responses. 
  2. Think about how it’s serving you:  Comparisons could inspire or motivate someone to work harder, build the life they want, or be more like the person they want to be deep down inside. However, it’s important to reflect on your internal experiences: Are comparisons unhelpful for you? Is it leading you to feel robbed of joy or that you’re living a life based on someone else’s vision instead of your own? 
  3. Identify how deep these comparisons go: Sometimes, comparisons can have ties to past experiences or relationships. If this is the case, reflecting, processing, and recovering from those experiences can be helpful in moving forward. 


How can therapy help? 

Many individuals come to therapy to improve their mental health. Therapy can help with: 

  • Increasing satisfaction or fulfillment in your personal life or relationships with others 
  • Assist in practicing awareness about your experience with comparisons and untangling the comparison thought spiral 
  • Learning skills to make healthier choices or decisions that are guided by your own values 
  • Learning strategies to assist in managing the distress that shows up with comparisons 
  • Assisting you in healing from a stressful event, life circumstance, or major change 



Don’t wait to get the help you need. If you would like to take the next step towards finding a therapist, contact Ethera to get matched with a provider.


About the Author:  Robyn Tamanaha is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, writer, and podcaster. She has a private practice in Irvine, CA and is the creator and host of the podcast Books Between Sessions.