DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: COMPARISON SYNDROME… AND HOW TO BEAT IT

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Do you fear your friends have more exciting jobs than you do, dress better than you do, or even date better men? If so, you might be suffering from the Comparison Syndrome.

 

Manal is 24 years old, from Alexandria, and had everything on her wish list: a good job in advertising agency, a nice car and even her own flat. She used to be a busy woman meeting friends and colleagues during the week regularly and going to parties at the weekends. But Manal always had the sneaking feeling that she was not doing as well as others.

 

“It started with small things, like I felt that my clothes were not as funky as others, then it developed that whatever I do at work I had an inner feeling that my colleagues had done a better job. It was a button switched off, remembering all my bad points and forgetting all the good characteristics that I have”, says Manal.

 

After one year, Manal’s performance at work was down and her personal life was doing badly. She quit seeing friends; she began to hate her job and preferred to spend her weekends staying at home. She was developing an obsession that whatever she did, she did not measure up! Her parents grew concerned about her and didn’t understand what had happened.

 

Understanding the Trap:

 

Like thousands of women, Manal became a victim of Comparison Syndrome, which is the tendency to compare ourselves unfavorably with other women whether they’re friends, colleagues, strangers or even celebrities. It is normal for CS to be present at some level, but with the different lives women lead nowadays it has been more and more epidemically present within women. Our grandmothers focused on being wives and mothers, but modern girls are expected to do all that PLUS be a hotshot at work, look good and be financially independent.

 

So this means we value ourselves by how many things we tick off from our mental checklist. As young women we feel we have something to prove because so much is expected of us. The next step is comparing ourselves to other women. We have this fear that if we let ourselves slip at any point, someone better can replace us. Psychological statistics verify that at least three out of four have an attack of CS once in their life.

 

The Self Esteem Factor:

 

The root of the problem is self esteem. CS is self defeating. We compare ourselves to the most intelligent colleague or the most beautiful house our colleague owns. So of course we never measure up! Age is another factor. CS hits commonly women in their 20s, as this is the generation that is expected to have it all. We are under the impression that we should be reaching a managerial position at 25, get married between 26- 28, have children by 30! If a friend beats us then we are a failure!

 

Even though men may want these things too they don’t suffer the same level of CS as women do. Men don’t compare themselves unfavorably to others. That’s because men tend to please themselves while women are busy trying to let others approve of them.

 

If you are the youngest child and feel overshadowed by siblings you may develop an innate desire to do better than your older siblings.

 

Conquering Comparing:

 

If you are comparing yourselves to your friends more and more than good news is that you can beat CS. The secret: “Value your own opinion over others’ and celebrate your successes however small they can be.” It sounds simple but requires bravery and practice to make the mental switch.”

 

STEP 1: Determine your priorities

Create your own ranking system for goals. “Is that what you’ve achieved at work better than anything else you’ve ever done?” Forget friends- have you just beaten your own personal best?

 

STEP 2: Spot the Triggers

Work out when the desire to compare strikes. Keep a journal for a month noting down what you’re doing when it’s triggered. Is there a pattern?

 

STEP 3: Invest in your Self Esteem

Think of yourself as a business and work out your selling points. Why not list all the achievements you have made since your childhood onwards, this will make you realise clearly that you’re someone who’s doing well in her own right and thus you don’t need to compete.

 

STEP 4: Set up a Secret Society

Everyone should have a circle of inner friends that you can confide in. You probably won’t even admit that you have CS to your friends, but at least you need to know that not everyone is competition.

 

STEP 5: Think about How Others Feel

Finally, look closely at the people you’re comparing you to, and think:

“No one’s life is perfect.”

“Not everyone is as confident or happy as they appear.”

“She may seem happy, but she must have other insecurities.”

 

Walking Tall:

 

It is important to realise that it is not how much you earn, where you work, and how often do you go out is all that counts. What really counts is what makes you happy!

 

Do you have Comparison Syndrome?

 

  1. You find it hard to accept a compliment.
  2. You waste time worrying about throwaway comments
  3. You avoid situations where you’ll meet “successful” people such as conferences, reunions, etc
  4. You feel resentful when other people tell you their good news.
  5. You’re afraid to give your opinion, even to your friends and family, in case it’s wrong.
  6. When you look in the mirror, you always find faults.
  7. When describing your job, you always start with, “I’m just a ….”
  8. You find it hard to make decisions because you don’t trust your own judgment.

 

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