Comparing Yourself to Others Can Complicate Coping
Comparing yourself to others is not beneficial while coping with depression. I live by the phrase, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It means that comparing something of yours to someone else’s can steal good feelings. And while it can certainly eliminate joy or gratitude, a comparison can also steal validation (Mental Illness Validation: Tell Me 'I Believe You'). Mental health is a vast and varied experience that features ups and downs and pushes and pulls that I can guarantee are not the same for any individual. So comparing your mental progress and experience while coping with depression against someone else’s progress and experience can create massive setbacks in your coping.
Comparing Yourself to Others with Depression Can Make You Feel Inferior, Invalidated
There are countless times when I have compared my life to someone else’s and felt completely worthless. Maybe someone seems to have a better handle on his or her depression and anxiety, or maybe he or she are having an excellent hair day, but I have put myself in an inferior mindset when I’ve compared myself to someone else. This sort of comparison is damaging to your mental health because you are inadvertently putting yourself down.
Sometimes you might compare your situation to another person’s situation and think to yourself that you have no right to be upset because he or she have it worse. Maybe someone has a loved one that recently passed away, and you feel that you have no right to be struggling with your depression since he or she seem to have a better reason to be upset. This is damaging to your coping methods, as it discredits your own struggle.
Using comparisons as comfort frustrates me. I have never liked it when someone tries to comfort me by saying, “You shouldn’t be worrying. Someone else has it worse.”
Absolutely, someone else has it worse. Someone else also has it better or similar. But I will not comfort myself by imagining another person’s misery. There are limitless reasons for being sad, hurt, or upset. Multiple people can struggle at the same time, so saying that one cannot because of someone else’s situation is unreasonable.
Comparing Your Experiences to Others' Complicates Coping with Depression
Denying validity of a problem by comparing two people's experiences is irrational. I was talking to one of my friends about her recent family troubles. Her parents were going through a divorce and there were a lot of adjustments that were treating her roughly. When I told her how difficult that situation must be and looked to comfort her, she disregarded me, saying, “Well I shouldn’t be complaining, you had it worse.”
Whether or not I had an experience that she believes is worse than hers, the fact of the matter is that this is new territory for her, and it’s difficult to maneuver. Her experience is just as valid as my own because it holds a degree of personal struggle.
We have to remember that while others have seemingly harder situations at hand, every individual’s challenges are real and valid. And just as everyone’s experiences are different and valid, so are everyone’s coping mechanisms. So work to stop comparing, and, instead, view yourself and others as worthwhile humans working to make the best out of all sorts of stuff.
Depression Coping Skill: Stop Comparing Your Progress to Others
Verbeke, T. (2016, October 26). Comparing Yourself to Others Can Complicate Coping, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, June 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2016/10/comparing-yourself-to-others-can-complicate-coping
Author: Tiffanie Verbeke
I felt so much shame and blame most of my life. I lived in a very chaotic, alcoholic, abusive family system. l was always comparing my life to others in my mind and the way I perceived the world! I went from a happy, joyful, loving the world little child to a very fearful, anxious, sad and down abused child from a young age. I always felt different and my family was screwed up royally, including myself.
It isn't the way I think now at all since I have had years of counselling and medication to help me.I don't compare myself to anyone at all, or them to me. We are all different going through different experiences and coping the best we can! No judging or comparing is part of recovery or should be part of your thinking !
I'm proud of you for reaching what seems to be a place of strength and mental health. Thank you for your encouraging words; I'm jazzed by how passionately you speak.
The main problem(s) I have is not comparisons, but are of being self-absorbed to try to feel better. I focus too much on myself and my worries and forget that I have a son. It really has been wasted days and years. I'm ready to start feeling good again and drop the anxieties and excessive worries.