Getting Past Thinking Everyone has it Better than You AKA Compare and Despair

Last Sunday, Jonny and I got up early to ride our bikes on one of our favorite routes, twice around Roosevelt Island.  It was warm but not sticky and breezy but not windy – a perfectly gorgeous morning.

On our ride we passed a few other people out on the Island, either fishing or sitting by the water drinking coffee.

As we rode past them, I felt envious.  I thought, Oh, look at them, they’re already up so early and enjoying their Sunday.  These people really have it together.  I never have it together!

Do you do this too?  Do you take part in the insanity of thinking that everyone else has it better than you?  A mindfuck so ridiculous that it makes you… envy people out early enjoying their Sunday that you’re only observing because you are, um, out early enjoying your Sunday?

Why We Compare

In many ways, this whole compare-and-despair behavior is just a manifestation of that totally unsatisfying-yet-keeps-us-growing part of being a human being – that we always want more.

And I mean, believing that someone else has it better than us is more palatable than coming face to face with the inevitable struggle of life.  Telling yourself that someone else has it so EASY means that you wouldn’t have to deal with pain and challenges no matter what, you’re just unlucky.

I love the internet, but man oh man is it a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy. There is just no way it’s healthy to spend hours a day observing the deeply edited existence of others.

How could you not go into a comparison fit when you’re looking at a picture of some acquaintance of yours sitting around with a bunch of people with cool swoopy hair, and they’re all laughing hysterically, above a caption that says something nauseating like “I LOVE MY LIFE”?  And just to add insult to injury, thanks to Instagram these people are all in frigging SEPIA TONE, jacking them up at least two levels on the good looking scale.

There was significantly less focus on mental health and self help in our grandmothers’ generation.  I bet that part of the reason why is because it was just not as necessary, given their lack of access to pictures of skanks they went to high school with happily frolicking on the beach with their children.

How to Deal

Let’s get you away from this bullshit and back to appreciating your life, shall we?

Focus on the areas where you are a superstar genius.  No one ever has it together in every aspect of life at one time. Happy people just know how to keep themselves focused on where they are superstars, and not get too freaked out by the areas that challenge them.

I think that is actually a lot of what we see in the social media world – it’s not that people are lying about how good they have it, it’s that we’re only seeing one teeny tiny side to the story.  Your acquaintance with the laughing sepia-toned swoopy-haired friends… she really does have great friends.  However, a more in-depth caption for her picture would say “I LOVE MY LIFE… BUT MY BOYFRIEND HAS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION”.

I guarantee you’ve got some areas where you are on top of the world, where other people would KILL to have the talents/luck/skills that you do.  Maybe you have no job, but a wonderful relationship.  Maybe you’re single, but you’ve got lots of close girlfriends who adore you.  Maybe you have no friends, but you smell fantastic.

Sometimes weaker areas are just weak because you’ve chosen to focus your time and energy in other areas… which is totally fine!  Keep your vision squarely focused on what is awesome about your situation.  I bet that over time you’ll find yourself energized to channel that awesomeness into other areas of your life, too.

Make the most of your jealousy.  Turn that crap into some jealousy lemonade.  Envy can be a massive energy- and soul-sucker; but there’s another side to it – it beautifully illustrates what your heart is yearning for with just enough pissiness to give you the zippity pow to get the job done.

This is not very classy, but I would not have this blog if I hadn’t been so seethingly jealous upon discovering healthy living bloggers who made a full-time living taking pictures of their breakfast.

I was so pissed off!  How the hell were these girls making money writing about their sneakers while I was slaving away at a job I hated?  I envied, I whined, I lamented the general intelligence of our culture for consuming this garbage.  And then I started by own blog.

Let your envy carry a message of “This person is showing me where I want to improve and change” rather than “This person is showing me where I am a colossal failure as a human being.”

Compare yourself to you, and that’s it!  Someone very wise once told me “You can’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”.

With your own life, you know all the gross ins and outs, from the diarrhea you had last night to this morning when you gave your hairdresser a hug when she was just trying to remove your smock.  There is no way you can contrast that your very real human experience and complex emotions with the surface level, curated existence that someone else shows you.

And the cold, hard truth is that some people really DO have a leg up on you, and they were born into money or genius intellect or with a really nice rack.  Comparing yourself to them is useless!

I’ll tell you what’s not useless, though – comparing your current state to where you’ve been.  You’ve been there with yourself every step of the way, you know intimately what battles you’ve fought and challenges you’ve overcome.  Maybe compared to your friend who got a promotion this year, it doesn’t look like you’ve done much; but you know that because you dealt with a family member’s illness that just getting up and going to work every day was a huge victory.  See what I mean?

The Moral of the Story

Don’t you worry, everyone feels like shit about something!  Your life is messy and precious, and to comparing it to someone else’s sepia-toned constructed display wastes valuable energy you could spend on living it better.

P.S.  Also, you never know who just had diarrhea last night.
P.P.S.  I LOVE MY LIFE.

23 Responses to Getting Past Thinking Everyone has it Better than You AKA Compare and Despair
  1. Very rapidly this website will be famous among all
    blogging and site-building users, due to it’s pleasant articles

  2. Layne
    May 12, 2013 | 5:41 pm

    Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your website,
    how can i subscribe for a weblog website? The
    account aided me a appropriate deal. I have been tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast offered bright transparent
    concept

  3. Honeymoon Salad | Your Full Plate
    November 27, 2012 | 9:21 pm

    [...] tell you all this not to be one of those nauseating internet people who is all I LOVE MY LIFE; rather to prove a point about the salad recipe I am going to give you today.  Even in the midst [...]

  4. Jt Clough | Maui Dog Remedies
    September 3, 2012 | 7:31 pm

    So very true. Living that one big.
    I’ve moved to Maui. There is so much here. But I have everything I need right in front of me.
    I just need to focus on it and do it with passion.
    Love my life.
    Keep the good messages in your writing coming.
    Much Aloha!

    • Marla
      September 4, 2012 | 10:50 pm

      Thank you Jt honey, wishing you only the best in Maui. <3

  5. Alternative Housewife
    September 2, 2012 | 5:42 am

    [...] Full Plate: Getting Past Thinking Everyone Has it Better Than You AKA Compare and Despair Another way of putting it – “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we [...]

  6. Janine (Alternative Housewife)
    September 2, 2012 | 4:23 am

    Perfect post. There is a quote I read and loved that said something like, don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight real. So true! It IS especially hard in the Internet age.

    • Marla
      September 3, 2012 | 7:00 pm

      Thank you honey… for your comment and for the link love! And love love looooooooove that quote – that sums it up perfectly, Janine. <3

  7. Karina Ladet
    September 1, 2012 | 5:55 am

    I LOVE your posts, Marla! I don’t even care that much about cooking and food but your writing is awesome! Just the right mix of hilarious words and inspiration. I know what you mean about comparing myself to others and atually this is inspiring me to show more of myself and to also write more about my challenges. It’s great because I think my writing or at least my topics are changing. It’s pretty new to me but like most people I tend to write more when I’m happy about something because I want to inspire people. But I’ve noticed that I get the most visits and comments when I write about my struggles and doubts. Be the change you wish to see in the world, he said Mr Ghandi. Great advice.

    Lots of big hugs to you, dear Marla!

    • Marla
      September 3, 2012 | 6:58 pm

      Karina, you are such a sweetheart, thank you so much. I know exactly what you mean – I really struggle with finding the balance between real-ness and being helpful and positive. I think it’s such an intuitive thing but I wish there was a scientific formula to it. :) You are such a beautiful writer, I am honored that I can inspire you! Mwah!

  8. Karina Ladet
    September 1, 2012 | 5:51 am

    You are SO FUNNY, Marla! Your writing is awesome. I don’t even care much about food and cooking but I always read your inspiring

  9. Gina
    August 28, 2012 | 5:54 pm

    you are so freakin’ funny miss marla…….you get at the heart of an issue and make us laugh too…how cool is that!? I’ll ask again, you writing a book one day soon???

    how the ego loves for us to feel separate……but then we have wisdom spreaders like you……so thank yee so much for another wonderful, inspiring post :)

    • Marla
      August 30, 2012 | 9:46 am

      Gina, you are too good to me. :) You are so right, we really are all in this together… an excellent point that I did not address in this post! Thank you so much for all your support and for being a wisdom spreader yourself. <3 <3

  10. Emily
    August 28, 2012 | 3:53 pm

    I really needed this today. Love you cousin.

    • Marla
      August 30, 2012 | 9:44 am

      I love you too sweetheart, oh so much. You know I am here absolutely anytime you want to talk other people’s diarrhea.

  11. Emma
    August 28, 2012 | 3:02 pm

    Just found your blog today through the goddess circle and absolutely ruddy bloody love it. I’m going to post links to this blog post all over my facebook page (www.facebook.com/mimiandtilly) because I love your writing so much! Hope you’re having a great day. Em x

    • Marla
      August 30, 2012 | 9:43 am

      EMMA!!!! WELCOME!!!! Thank you oh so much, I am so going to ‘like’ your FB page right this second. Hope you’re having a great day too sweetie, you just made mine. xoxo

  12. Jackie
    August 28, 2012 | 2:27 pm

    Dear Marla, you crack me up every time. So funny, so wise, so true. When we press our noses up against the windows of other people’s lives we can never see the whole story. I always wanted swoopy hair until I tried it first hand, dressed up as Velma for a Scooby Doo party with a swoopy wig. Every time I swooped or in fact just moved slightly, some wig hair would get stuck to my lip gloss and I had to spit it out. Happier now with the tangle of mad ringlets that pretty much stay in one place when I move.
    When’s a smart publisher going to snap you up? Love Jackie xxxx

    • Marla
      August 30, 2012 | 9:42 am

      dearest Jackie, I just adore you and you flatter me so. Thank you so much! AND OMG I GET THE SAME EXACT LIPGLOSS HAIR THING EVERY TIME I TRY TO MAKE MY HAIR SWOOP. NO KIDDING. I also can’t stop TOUCHING it. how the fuck do these people do it?!

      biggest hugs,
      Marla

      PS I love your mad ringlets! They are so pretty!

  13. Dominee
    August 28, 2012 | 1:16 pm

    *Love*
    I laughed so hard it hurt. At first I thought “I LOVE MY LIFE… BUT MY BOYFRIEND HAS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION”. was the funniest part but it kept getting better and better.
    As a recovering – everyonehasitbetterthanmeomgmylifesux kind of girl I gotta say, living on the opposite side is so much better. Those thoughts creep up sometimes but they’re always banished by a “look where you were x amount of years ago” philosophy.
    It pretty much works every time.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Marla
      August 30, 2012 | 9:40 am

      Thank you so much Dominee and I love love LOVE your philosophy, especially not getting too stressed out when the compare-y thoughts come up sometimes!!!

  14. Louise Darcy
    August 28, 2012 | 11:39 am

    Hi Marla
    I have read your links from Goddess Circle and I had to comment on this post. I think you are right to think that it is weird to envy others, especially when you are doing the same thing! Crazy eh?! I tend to think comparing ourselves to others is almost a basic survival instinct-is she stronger, prettier etc? I don’t know what good it does but possibly by comparing it means we look into and at ourselves much closer than before. Personal development, questioning and growing may stem from our perceived thoughts and beliefs which is no bad thing. The thing we all need to be careful of is failing to see that although someone may be prettier, fitter, wealthier (and there is always is like a million people who are)but that they too come with their own insecurities and stuff that they will be working through. A bit of perspective now and then helps keep things in order. A really interesting read, Thanks for sharing.
    Louise

    • Marla
      August 28, 2012 | 11:58 am

      Hi Louise! I loved your comment, thank you so much. :) I do agree that comparing ourselves to others absolutely serves its purpose (so interesting to think of it for survival! never occurred to me before!) – I am just always aware of the crap thinking that feeling good lies in what someone else has; which is just a recipe for ALWAYS feeling unsatisfied, you know?

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
Get Adobe Flash player