Thursday, March 29, 2012

Avoid Social Comparison

This was "Avoid over-thinking and social comparison," but I'm editing it down to just Avoid social comparison to make it tighter. A hilarious thing I learned in my personal trainer manual was "avoid setting negative goals," which is a little bit of a fail, but I really do appreciate the sentiment. One of the things that attracted me to this list of twelve things that happy people do differently was that it wasn't the list of thirty things not to do, gah, that is just asking to get doored. So I toyed with turning this around, but then felt like it was missing the point because the point of this really is DON'T.


Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
I'm not real worried about my inner Kanye West. I don't run in those circles. The people I hang out with pretty much exclusively deal with the underside of this equation, by which I mean I hang out with pretty accomplished people who worry more than you might think about not being good enough.

Ahhhhh it's awesome to be able to play a competitive sport as an adult, but it's also awesome not to play sports as an adult. Because when you were getting picked last on the playground, you knew that you were going to grow up and leave this behind. Apart from having to work for a living and clean all the things, adulthood is a softer world with a lot more breathing room. A lot more things matter when you're an adult, more chances to win! Childhood is a much smaller world, where fewer and less important things, like sports, matter a lot. And the world of a sport is a very small world with very few things that matter to that world. Which is awesomely focusing and a great privilege to participate in, but it's easy to forget when you're in such a small world that there's more world.

It occurs to me that I'm imagining the more world as a place where everybody is self-actualized and has mastered the seven deadlies. It's like that, right? Out there?

Anyway not to be a vagueasaurus, you know what I'm talking about. I tried out for the league and didn't make it, and those girls did. I got passed over for four drafts, and that girl got picked up in her first draft. I hardly got rostered for two home seasons, and that girl was in the regular rotation in her first season. I didn't make the B team, and my two best friends did. This could be anybody talking. It could be me. I mean, it is me. If I talked like this. Anymore.

Here's two things that you have to know:

  1. if you imagine that everybody's life is a ball, you can never see the whole ball
  2. and not only is everybody's life a ball, it's a ball on a wheel that keeps turning
With these two brilliant statements, I win for all time at self help.

Everybody's life is a ball

You must accept that you can never know anybody's whole ball. In all likelihood, you don't know your own whole ball. I mean, you probably know enough of your own ball and the balls of the people you're closest to. I'm guessing though that you don't know near enough of the ball of that person you're comparing yourself to. That's practically how it works, you only compare yourself to people you don't know that well. You can only make yourself properly miserable by picking out their nicest piece and taking that for whole. Consider enough of somebody else's pieces, and the urge to compare goes way down. If it comes up in your head to compare yourself to anybody else at all, it's a sign right there that you have no basis for comparison and to stop right there. Stop comparing, I mean. If you want to fully imagine and empathize with that whole person, go right ahead.

Everybody's life is a ball on a wheel that keeps turning

"Wheel keeps turning" is my favorite quote from the Whedonverse, I feel like it comes up a lot. I only know for sure that Mal says it on Firefly. Dude, it is true. Good news, bad news, who knows. You never know how that person who is up now will come down, and how hard. If you are down now, you will surely be up soon.

In short, social comparison is not real. Keep it real. In fact the real is not going to make you happy all the time, but at least it's real. Maybe it isn't what you want, but it is what it is. Which is to say, it isn't "what if" which is impossible to do anything with. So now you can do something with what is. If you live in the real, you adapt to the real soon enough. Always going for the shiny object distracts you from adapting properly, just like in derby. NO SHINY OBJECT.

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