Comparison and mental health

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People who don’t compare themselves with other are leading happy life as per research. The more you react to negative social comparison, the lesser your self-esteem. When the self-esteem goes low, people start evaluating themselves as inferior to others.  Research studies shows that comparison tendency reduces as age increases. Social comparison is creating more impact in young people.

People who do downward comparison at times get temporary happiness compared to people doing upward comparison. At times, upward comparison inspires people to work smart and get self-improvement.

Comparison becomes a threat to mental health when it is not dealt with proper care. Impacts of being negatively compared,

  • People start to feel low about themselves
  • Prolonged depression
  • Regretting for own decisions taken in the past
  • Feeling guilty that family/friends are suffering because of them
  • Starting to lie to keep up the confidence
  • Blaming self for each and everything
  • More destructive feeling
  • Always unhappy

It is very easy to get trapped into comparison. It is not that always others do this to us. Most of the time, comparison happens by self. Now a days with more social medium availability, people simply look into other person’s posts/status and compare their life with them. This creates more anxiety and stress. Mental health becomes questionable in this situation.

People look always smiling even when they are depressed from inside. “Smiling depression” is the recent word. Also, most people post their best moments on the social media. But the person who tries to compare assumes that people around are always having life without any hurdles and only he/she is having issues.

Kids are not left out from being compared. Parents compare with other kids with the intention of motivation. But most of the time, it creates emotional scars which takes years and years to heal. In some families, comparison leaded to sibling rivalry. Parents should be very careful when they try to compare and motivate kids. And they should understand that each child is unique and has potential.

Schools and colleges are other hot spots where comparison creates big impacts. Students get frustrated when they get compared with another high scoring student. Frustration leads to depression. They loose interest in studies and that ends up in dropout. Studies related suicides are also more these days as per research studies.

Comparison comes in every form. Most common such comparison is with neighbors. Your neighbor’s income may affect your happiness. Simply looking at their neighbor’s luxury car and rich home interiors, people assume that they are having everything in life and I have less than them. This materialistic comparison brings huge stress in family. It creates rift in couple relationships.

Apart from the above, there are lot of comparison commonly happening in Indian social setup.

  • Person with lesser paid job being compared with highly paid relative
  • Non-working mothers being compared with working mothers
  • Fair skin people being compared with dark skin people
  • Fat people being compared with thin people
  • Foreign university degree holders being compared to native university degree holders

It may be difficult to stop comparing yourself with others. All you need to know is how harmful that comparison is for your mental health. Keep reminding that to yourself.

  • Take time out from your day to day work and feel grateful about yourself. That is not called selfish behavior
  • Saying no doesn’t mean that you are hurting others
  • Seek connection from others not comparison
  • Look up for self-improvement but just a little
  • Compare yourself to yourself

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