Earlier this year, two days before I tried out for the TV show The Voice, I wrote a post titled “Comparisons.” Because comparisons are a cognitive distortion that can lead to envy, dissatisfaction, low esteem, disappointment, and misery, I hesitate to compare today’s post with the one I wrote before.
Since I’ve been back at work after my two-month medical leave, several people I’ve seen in therapy sessions have presented as unhappy due to comparisons with other people. Indeed, yesterday I circled “comparisons” on the list of cognitive distortions displayed on the wall of my office, because that particular cognitive distortion seems incomparably toxic.
Here’s a definition of the cognitive distortion of comparisons:
We compare ourselves to others, with ourselves coming out short. For example, “I’m not as smart (or good, competent, good-looking, lovable, etc.) as that other person.” Or, we compare ourselves to how we think we should be, or how we’ve been before. We might think that comparisons help motivate us, but they usually make us feel worse.
I don’t want to compare myself to other people, but I’m wondering whether others ever make the kinds of comparisons I’ve been making lately. These comparisons have included:
- comparisons to people who are healthier,
- comparisons to other blogs with higher readership,
- comparisons to when I was younger,
- comparisons to when I was thinner,
- comparisons to those who have more endurance,
- comparisons to people who live in better climates,
- comparisons to how I felt before I had my latest surgery,
- comparisons to the time before the U.S. presidential election, and
- comparisons to others who work in my field.
As always, I might think these comparisons help motivate me, but they usually make me feel worse.
To help myself feel comparatively better, I’m going to invite comparisons among the photos I took yesterday.
Please leave presents of comments here, below.
To all who helped me create today’s post about comparisons and — of course! — to my incomparable readers, I express comparable gratitude: