Cut the comparisons

Serena, the heroine in Ian McEwan’s novel ‘Sweet Tooth’, was particularly good at (and loved) mathematics at school, so was admitted to Cambridge University to further her studies in the subject.

When she got there, though, she soon realised that while she’d been head and shoulders above her fellow school students, her aptitudes were as nothing when compared to the others on her Cambridge course. She hated it and did poorly.

Comparing yourself to others can be dangerous and demoralising, particularly if you’re feeling low-spirited and believe those around you aren’t.

Most of us are pretty adept at putting on a happy face when we’re feeling shabby inside, so unless you have a lot of evidence to the contrary, when you weigh up your mood against others you’re probably comparing apples and oranges – your interior and their exterior.

If you wish, compare yourself today with yourself yesterday – or last year. But measuring yourself against others is generally not a great recipe for happiness.

6 thoughts on “Cut the comparisons

  1. So true. Do you think the Facebook craze to spy on others lives is so damaging for this reason. The lives that are portrayed are rarely real – or at least are just a reflection of just ‘the good bits’, and lead to such discontent with our own lives.

  2. Needed saying for me. Have been doing just that Jon! A timely reminder not to compare myself to others. And I shall read the Ian McEwan book too! He’s good.

  3. something i do all too often and it gets me down. a reason i try and stay away from Facebook et al. good tip on comparing yourself to where you were previous

  4. Excellent tip – have been doing it for years. Also thinking what others think they might be thinking of me….I haven’t a clue what’s in my own head half of the time, but I always worry about what people may think of me. A great, easy to follow post. Jon, thank you.

  5. Sorry Jon and you other ‘nudgers. I don’t agree.
    Yes compairing oneself with someone else may indeed lead to disapointment and esteem issues. But it could be a bonus, eg at least I have…..kids who love me….a job…..the ability to smell flowers…..
    But so can compairing oneself with what was can be dangerous also. Eg. This time last year I was…..happy…..fitter……working etc etc. As it could be the loss of the whatever that’s a cause of the depression, anxiety or whatever, might make ones mood lower still.

    Compare if you like, but I think the warning should be:
    Be careful what you compare with, always know that this too will pass.

  6. Like the character in the Ian McEwan book I also studied maths at Cambridge and hated it. The jump from school to university was massive and I was like a fish out of water having come from a state school background. I had a strong sense of self but there was quite a lot of pressure to conform into something quite alien to me. The other mathmos as maths students at Cambridge are nicknamed were better at the subject than me. Unfortunately I developed schizoaffective disorder. However this did not stop me succeeding in getting a psychology degree at a less rarified institution and having a paper published not to mention holding down a few jobs. Unfortunately my illness came back with avengeance when my dad died of motor neurone disease (ALS in the States) but I maintain an active interest in music singing in a choir and playing viola in an amateur philharmonic orchestra and whilst I do not work my self worth comes from these activities as well as my friends and family. There really is no need to compare self to others

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