What’s Comparison Culture And Why We Should Abandon It

Since we were kids, we got used to competing with our friends and schoolmates. Teachers pushed us to become the first in the class, comparing our results to those of other pupils. Our parents constantly reminded us that we were not as good as our siblings. This is only a part of comparison culture and how it affected many aspects of our childhood and adulthood. But what exactly is comparison culture, and why is it so harmful?

What Is Comparison Culture

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Comparison culture is the society-wide encouragement to compare oneself to others. Chances are, you’ve looked at a friend and gotten jealous over their looks. Or maybe it was because they got an award at a local race. Or maybe it was something else altogether. It can feel like a need to constantly be #1, or at least #1 at something.

Success, Success, Success

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Did you ever look at someone and ask yourself, “Why don’t I have a career like his?” Or looked at a woman in the gym, only to ask why you don’t have a figure like hers? That’s Comparison Culture working on you. It’s so common to keep tabs on what others are doing, you might not realize it’s a cultural thing.

A Culture Of Envy And Shame

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In many cases, Comparison Culture makes us want things just because people hold them in such high esteem. For example, your child might suffer from it because he doesn’t have the “cool sneakers” like the popular kids in class. What’s strange is that you might feel shame for not having something, even though you know you don’t really want it.

Low Self-Esteem As An Outcome

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The problem with Comparison Culture is that it makes you feel like it’s never enough. You’re never smart enough, accomplished enough, thin enough, or wealthy enough. There’s always someone ahead of you that’s doing it better. That’s who you end up comparing yourself to. In most cases, it ends with lowered self-esteem.

Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

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The only person we should be competing with or listening to is ourselves. It’s important to remember that. Moreover, it’s crucial to remember that what works for one person won’t be your ideal life. If you don’t believe it, think about what that person had to do for that insane career. Chances are, it’s more than you’d have been willing to give up.

Social Media’s Impact

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Much of Comparison Culture hinges on showing the best of a person’s life. In no place is this more noticeable than social media. Everyone looks like a movie star or a successful professional on Instagram and Facebook. When reality hits, the truth is that most of those posts were staged. Life isn’t that glamorous 24/7.

Remember The Unseen

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There is a lot of shiny, glittery stuff online designed to feed into Comparison Culture. Remembering that people don’t post their failures is key. On the very rare chance that you’ll see a failure online, it will likely be for views or begging for money. In other words, those failures are often staged or otherwise extreme. People hide their “oops moments.”

A Culture Of Self-Focus

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Believe it or not, there is another way to see things. It’s best to focus on yourself. In other words, your only competitor is YOU. Your goals, priorities, and ideal self should come from your inner voice. What others do or like is not your concern, nor should it ever be.

Healing From Comparison

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Being too obsessed with others’ lives can lead to serious confidence issues and insecurity. In fact, it can even cause friendships to fail. The best way to handle the “push to compare” is to address it through therapy, positive self-talk, and a stark refocus on what really matters.

It’s okay to admit that comparing yourself to others hurts you. It’s a common (and toxic) trait that’s deeply ingrained in people.

Should It Be In Education?

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Schools are increasingly focused on teaching more than just math and English. They work on soft skills, such as emotional regulation and drug awareness. People are now starting to ask whether bucking the comparison trend should be part of school education.

Gen Z Knows

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As it turns out, Gen Z might be the start of a culture that questions or even bucks Comparison Culture altogether. Gen Z is one of the most well-adjusted when it comes to their relationships with media and Comparison Culture. It may be time to take a page from their book by talking about the dangers of comparing yourself to others.

Parents Too!

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If you’re a Millennial or Gen X parent, you may have memories of your parents comparing you to others. Now is a great time to buck that trend and be the change you want to see in the world. Rather than compare your child to others, praise them for carving out their own unique path in life. Your child has their own wants. Encourage them to follow their heart!

How To Heal

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As we’ve seen earlier, comparison culture can affect us in several ways. However, this doesn’t mean we cannot overcome its toxicity. Limiting social media usage is a good way to heal from unhealthy comparisons. Another great tip is to only compare your life to your previous self. Instead of constantly looking at other people who may be in a better place, think of how far you’ve come.

Be The Change You Want To See

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Another important factor is that you should avoid feeding into this unhealthy culture. But how? As easy as it sounds, avoid comparisons! On top of this, if you tend to post often on your social media pages, don’t only share positive days but also be honest about your struggles.

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