|‘comparison is the thief of joy’


Comparison needs more than 1 post imo. This post focuses on the first everyday moment <3

an everyday moment:

When I was younger, I used to do this thing where I observed other girls/women I admired or I saw who were really admired and started to adopt their mannerisms, or traits which I thought were the reason behind their coolness. One time, I literally changed my laugh because I thought laughing with one eye half closing would be more attractive - STOP i know.

I’m also at that age where everyone starts going down separate paths, where by the time we are in our 20s - one person may have just landed their first full-time job, another might be opening a business, another person studying in uni, another might be travelling here and there, another person may be getting married, another may be already managing a thriving business. Our lives at the same age can vary so much that it’s so easy to feel FOMO living in one of these eras (e.g. working full time) and viewing the life of someone else (e.g. someone opening a business). It is so easy to feel discouraged and envious when looking at someone else’s life and seeing their highlight as a ‘norm’ or what your life should look like all the time.

Okay and the most obvious ones, comparing myself to others if that is in academic results, appearance etc. and feeling superficially worse or better about myself.

Comparison really is the thief of joy, it creates a structure of ‘what should be’ out of things that are just how they are. On the base level, it’s like if I were to compare my height to another person and then if I feel bad about being shorter - I would be asserting that being ‘taller’ is what everyone should be in order to be more acceptable. Alternatively, if I were to feel better about being shorter - I would be asserting that being ‘shorter’ is what everyone should be in order to be more acceptable. When, it honestly didn’t even matter in the first place, and my height and their height was just how we exist.

a reflection:

Comparison is the primary mechanism which humans use to identify and adopt strategies that we think would make us belong better - albeit, in a way that typically gets us to abandon our true selves. It has an evolutionary mechanism - when we were hunter-gatherers, the humans in the tribe that were able to observe and compare the more adaptable behaviours of other people in the tribe (e.g. using certain tools that were more effective at hunting) were more likely to survive.

But we’re not hunter-gatherers anymore. So now, we continue to look outside of ourselves to find ways to be more lovable, to be more acceptable to the community - which all implies that we need to contort our real selves in order to survive. In hunter gatherer times, they didn’t have time to modify their real selves, they compared for traits of survival (social survival and physical survival) not whether their laugh was attractive.

So here’s the gold: If I modify myself to mimic others around me who I think naturally belong, I reinforce the notion that I fundamentally don't belong. While my intention may be pure—to find acceptance and belonging—this sets off a harmful loop. I find myself in a constant cycle of comparison - (I compare myself with others to make sure this modified version of myself still belongs). But striving to maintain the facade of belonging, I never truly feeling fulfilled because the only love I receive is for a fake version of myself. This mechanism makes it impossible for me to ever satisfy the desire to fundamentally belong - if I only show a curated version of myself (one that has been foolproof designed to receive acceptance and affection), I can only be loved to that extent. I basically don’t even give others a chance to know/love the real me and I don’t give myself the chance to feel like I can be loved without modifying myself.

The key message: What makes other people shiny won’t make me shiny. They are shiny not because of a certain trait that I need to adopt but because they are showing up as themselves and loving themselves for it. Maybe jealousy rears it head because the person I'm jealous of is modelling a desire I repressed in myself for fear that expressing it could make me unlovable, try-hard or weird.

an everyday example:

What even is the ‘real me’ or the ‘real self’ anyway?

Well, after years of comparison and modifying myself, of course I would feel confused on who I really am. The irony is that the answer lies in comparison - specifically jealousy. Ever felt jealous of someone who you think is ‘better’ than you in some way? That jealousy is not there to purely discourage you and highlight your inadequacy. Jealousy is an indicator that there is a desire that we have not fully committed to, and it HURTS to see someone else living that dream - because your soul is yearning for whatever that want is. The real self can be traced in these wants, usually these are desires that you THINK you cannot have BECAUSE of the ‘acceptable’ persona that you have created.

To make it clearer I have an example:

  • Okay take this: I’m walking around and I see another girl who presents herself really nicely, like hair, nails, outfit, jewellery is fully just chefs kiss.
  • If I feel an intense wave of envy - that indicates that I perceive a deficiency in my own appearance, that I need to ‘obtain’ what this other girl has to feel worth. But alternatively, it indicates a really innocent and reasonable desire to invest in my own appearance and feel more confident - not because I lack internal beauty but BECAUSE of internal beauty, it can be expressed outwardly too.
  • SO okay, my real self wants to invest in my appearance. But this can create conflict with my constructed self where going after this desire would bring sides of myself that are not ‘acceptable’ in how (I think) other people currently see or accept me. For example, I might fear being seen as ‘too vain/dandan (indo: iykyk)’, ‘if I invest in my external it means I’m ugly inside’, I would be ‘wasting money’, or ‘trying to be something I’m not and come off as fake’.
  • But here’s the twist: These aren’t the judgements of others, those voices are MY OWN criticisms - ones that I’ve picked up from others growing up and repeated to myself to ensure I don’t invite ridicule or condescension. When I recognise these beliefs for what they are - mechanisms I adopted to protect myself - I can start to detach from their influence, I can learn to love myself in spite of these thoughts and provide myself permission to actually act on my desire.
  • The ironic thing is, if I hadn't acknowledged these thoughts and simply indulged in beauty products, the world would inevitably present situations that trigger those very beliefs. That’s because I would still be operating in those beliefs, thinking that pursuing external beauty must also mean being ‘vain, fake etc.’ For instance, I would be more susceptible to comments labelling my appearance as ‘fake’ and then feel like 'see, I told you, you can't be cool/pretty/beautiful without being shunned'. 

fromtheheart mantras:

  • What makes other people shiny won’t make me shiny. They are shiny because they are presenting their actual self without fear of being unloveable.
  • Jealousy doesn’t make me a bad person. Jealousy is the streetlight indicating a path that I may have convinced myself not to take.
  • Let jealousy be an encouragement to myself to pursue what I want and to see others with admiration, as equals and as role-models rather than with envy.

from, the heart <3

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