Comparing Your Life to Other People’s Lives – It’s a Trap!

Man comparing two measurements

It’s easy to get caught in thinking you are the only one facing a momentary challenge in your life or long-running adversity, the only one with unanswered questions, or the only one who hasn’t figured out how to create the balance, health, relationships, finances or career success you want.

But that’s actually not the case.

Everyone faces challenges!

Everyone has unanswered questions of some sort. Everyone is working out how to create what they want. Everyone is evolving in their own unique way, at their own pace.

One way you are conditioned to feel like you’re the only one with challenges is that you are led to believe everyone else “has got it together” because most people are only showing the sanitized and happy aspects of their life to the world – on social media, in social situations, and in conversation.

Many people keep the dark moments to themselves or sharing only with those trusted and loved people closest to them. That is natural and of course in many cases quite appropriate. But it leads you into a false perspective of your own situation in relation to others.

You can easily get lost in comparison, and end up feeling alone and isolated in your challenges from this perspective. Comparing your worst day with someone else’s best day will never bring you peace.C

No one else on this planet is going to unfold in their life like you are. No one. No one else is uniquely like you. You cannot be compared. What you most need to understand when you go into comparison mode in your mind, is that you channel all of your energy away from your own creative processes. Instead of focusing your thoughts and feelings and actions on creating outcomes for yourself, you focus all of your attention to someone else and what they are creating for themselves. This leaves you no power and it is also a complete waste of your precious energy.

Just because unhealthy comparison doesn’t serve you, does not mean you can’t genuinely observe and admire the success of another person. This is actually uplifting – feeling joy for all they are being and creating. You may well feel inspired into the ongoing possibilities for yourself by witnessing them flourishing. You may see opportunities to learn from what they are doing. You may be able to apply that learning in your own path, in your own unique way, aligned with your passions, inspirations, and intuition, to aid your success.

And… you will always clearly know the difference between this form of positive observation and learning, versus pure painful comparison. The former leaves you feeling uplifted and excited, and the latter leaves you feeling sad, frustrated and deflated.

Listen to the messages your feelings are giving you.

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How to Overcome Frustration: 3 Simple but Effective Steps

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Frustration. It winds you up and can take so much out of you.

Because it not only sucks energy but also distracts you and can steal quite a bit of time.

So what can you do?

Well, sometimes that frustration can actually be positive and can give you a new idea or angle on things. Or it can give you the power to keep going just a little bit more until you reach your goal.


But when you start going in circles, when the frustration just makes you mad or your mind foggy and the day is starting to slip through your fingers then there are steps you can take.

High Five Sports Bar GIF by Originals


There are ways to turn such a state of mind or day around.

Into something better. Into something more helpful. And into something that will make you feel better again.

Step 1: Be here now.

When you are frustrated then you are often somewhere in the future in your mind. Somewhere you wish you would be. Or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.
Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment.
You can do so by for example:
Focusing on your breathing. Sit down, close your eyes and just focus on the air going and out of your nose for 1-2 minutes. Take calm and slightly deeper breaths than usual and breathe with your belly and not your chest.
Focus on what is around you at this time. The sun shining in through your window. The kids playing out in the street and the cars and people going by.

The smells and feeling of the clothes and warmth of the sun on your skin. Do this for 1-2 minutes to get your attention back to the present moment.

Step 2: Appreciate what you do have.

After you have pulled your attention back to where it can be most helpful focus it on what is still positive in your life.

The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus it on appreciating what you do have.

A favorite of mine during this step is the important things we may sometimes take for granted. Like for instance:

  • A warm home and a roof over your head.
  • Plenty of drinkable water.
  • Not having to go hungry.
  • Access to the internet (and perhaps
  • your own place to express yourself ).
  • Your friends and family.

Spend a few minutes on this and you’ll find much to be grateful for.

Step 3: Focus on what you can do right now.

With your attention in the present moment and your mood a more grateful and positive one it is now time to get constructive about what frustrates you.

You can do that by asking yourself:
What is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?

It may be to see what you can learn from what frustrates you and to try another path towards your goal.

Or it could be to try one more time and to keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).

Or it could be you simply realizing that you may have taken on a bit much lately or things have been tough and that you need to take this evening or a few days to just relax, take care of yourself and perhaps simplify a bit.

So that you can recharge and then get back into moving towards what you want out of your life in a more focused way.

Bonus Tips

Make note of your triggers and see what you can do about them.

What triggers your frustration?

Is it when your partner doesn’t take out the trash as you had agreed? Or when you’re not making progress as fast you like with your career or hobby? Or when your phone’s interrupting your work all too often?

Whatever it might be, first ask yourself:
What can I do to prevent this trigger in the first place?

For example, put your phone in silent mode or airplane mode and then get back to people during 1-3 scheduled times throughout your workday.

If you can’t prevent it then ask yourself:
What can I do to reduce the frustration caused by this trigger?

For instance, if you get frustrated with delays or waiting time while on your daily commute then ask your friends or google for answers for how others handle this common issue.

You may discover that one helpful solution is an audio book or podcast to listen to divert your attention and to get something good out of the situation while you’re waiting.

Remember: you’re human (and so is everyone else).

Perfectionism towards yourself or others does most often lead to plenty of frustration and disappointment. So set your standards both for others and yourself at a human level rather than at perfection.

Accept that sometimes you will make mistakes, have setbacks and not reach your goals when you’d like to. And so will people around you too.

Source Credit: HENRIK EDBERG