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WHAT is comparing yourself to others?
Choosing very specific virtues, results or skills and looking for those who appear to be achieving differently to you.
Judgmental : Arrogance (better) or self-loathing (worse) –usually we only notice when we “lose” but we are also looking at who we “beat”– which aggravates the measurement system.
Grass is greener – we ignore any reasons why the person is doing better that makes sense of it, or any evidence that they’re not really doing “better” in terms of enjoyment of life.
Placing yourself in a hierarchy of skills, popularity and achievements – your worth. Subjective belief: “Each person is worth a different amount of value”
WHY do we do it?
Trained to compete on skill, which is translated as worth. School, parents, peers. Programmed to measure worth on competency. Values are degraded, skills that are profitable or good social currency are upgraded. Notice how rich, famous and successful is portrayed in the media compared with kind, honest and brave.
Risk-averse bias – our brains look for what is a threat, and socially speaking “better” people are either competition or potential judges/executioners.
Fundamental attribution error – thinking someone is doing better because they are better.
Extrapolation ‘big leap’ bias – assume another person’s“success” means they enjoy life more – ignoring evidence like celebrity suicides or high divorce rates for CEOs etc.
Confirmation bias – ignore evidence of you privileged about most others, focus on small cherry-picked ‘evidence’ that others are receiving more rewards.
Lack of identity – need reference comparisons to know who you are because you have no other reference. School stripped you of originality and your peers pressured you to conform. Now you don’t know who you are without comparison.
HOW do we stop doing it?
Need a measurement of worth system that’s more effective –something that requires no comparison with anything you can’t understand or control.
Can’t even compare to ‘past self’ because circumstances are different e.g. if you have depression now you can’t compare to your past when you were motivated. Must be a fair system with full chance to “win” at anytime.
Values reference system. Compare your behaviour to your values. Can be done any time, any situation, always a chance to win, and losing is just a valuable lesson.
Other “better” people – why are they better? If this can be reframed to values, which values are they living by more (or representing)?
- Richer? Disciplined
- Popular? Courageous and honest
- Good looking? Healthy
Challenge every judgment – separate facts from assumptions and narratives
- If someone did better, what do you actually knowabout why?
- How do you know it’s “better”? What’s the finalresult?
- Are all variables taken into account (e.g.effort, experience, technique, diff approaches taken etc)?
- How does this excuse you from living by yourvalues?
Time and practice. You have to undo years of condition withconscious effort.