Why Upward and Downward Comparisons Are Counterproductive

We all have a tendency in life to compare ourselves to others. We do this for a variety of reasons:

  • To figure out our worth and value.
  • To put our life into some type of perspective.
  • To see what we want to achieve or shoot for.

This behavior is also becoming worse with social media, and while it’s become cliché to blame the internet for how people think and feel, there are scientific studies that show that most people only share their best on social media, and that it can cause people to develop feelings of inadequacy as their real life doesn’t compare to the imaginary lives they see of others online.

Downward comparisons – where we compare ourselves to those “below” us – cause similar issues.

The Problems with Upwards and Downwards Comparisons

Comparing your life to others is rarely helpful, even when it is done for what feels like positive reasons, such as helping you feel more appreciative of your own life.

The primary reason that comparisons are unhelpful is because happiness is not something that can be judged by our subjective view of what someone else’s life is like. There are homeless men and women that are happy. There are young, wealthy, good looking people that are miserable. We don’t know what goes on in a person’s life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, these comparisons have many inherent problems:

When you compare yourself to someone “above” you:

  • It gives you goals that you can’t reach while ignoring the things you can reach.
  • It is focused only on what you don’t have, ignoring the things you do.
  • It values someone else as better than you, which affects self-esteem.

Modeling yourself after someone else or comparing where you are with where someone else is can cause you to do things that are not best for your life or happiness, cause you to lose value in things that should have real value for you, and put you in the habit of always wanting more.

When you compare yourself to someone “below” you:

  • You look down on other people.
  • You devalue your own challenges and emotions.
  • You don’t try to make your life better.

It helps to have goals, and to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. Comparing yourself to someone “below you” just to feel better is both morally problematic, ignores the fact that many people of all statuses are happy, and may prevent you from prioritizing your own mental health and wellness.

Upwards comparisons or downward comparisons. They can all stand in the way of your happiness. Call me today if you’re ready to focus on you and only you.