Why do I feel bad when I compare myself to perfect people?

I know, I know, there are no perfect people.

That is what I tell myself when I am comparing myself to the woman standing in front of me in the check out line in Whole Foods.  A beautiful 60-ish woman, who is toned (specifically no giggle arm or belly), artistic yet casually dressed, well spoken with kind words to the check-out woman and the guy bagging her well chosen groceries. I am certain she has kept her girlish figure even though I imagine she has birthed babies.

I think her oldest is probably a brain surgeon who has developed a miracle non invasive procedure to help menopausal women remember their children’s birth dates. Her youngest is most likely a rocket scientist who is developing a garbage collecting space rocket to gather all the crap we have imagesleft up there…as evidenced in the movie Gravity — the debris blowing Sandra Bullock dangerously far away from the mother ship. This woman smiles warmly, with perfectly straight still white teeth, as she hands me the separator that will distinguish her stuff from mine.

She is not perfect. I am sure. I tell myself she has problems too. I even begin to make up some fictitious dilemma to soothe my screaming ego. I bet she can’t eat a whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels while watching a Big Bang rerun.

I always lose when I play the comparison game because I judge myself against people I decide are better than me, smarter than me, wealthier, funnier, cuter. As I age I compare myself with others who can get off the floor faster or remember where they parked their car.

So why do I do it? Why do you? I know that you do…but if miraculously you don’t, don’t tell me, cuz I will compare myself to you.

Perhaps it is the grass is always greener…or the 1960’s parenting technique of comparing kids to their more successful sibling or neighbor kid in an attempt to motivate Junior to learn his spelling words.

It is a lousy motivational technique.

In my family I was the shining star. The Hero child. It was as good a role as any, I guess, but I always had to succeed. Do well. Bring home accolades. And when I did, my brother, who was the Rebel child, hated me more each day. I came to learn that being the object of comparison sucks too.

Either way we lose.

Either way we feel bad about ourselves.

The truth is we don’t know what goes on for others. What we tell ourselves is simply a story that we have make up. Some of it may be true, most of it probably is not.

How do you feel when you compare yourself to another? 




Patricia Boswell

2 comments on “Why do I feel bad when I compare myself to perfect people?

  1. Oh my goodness, you’ve hit on a nerve! I’m forever telling myself that old adage – Comparison is the thief of joy – and trying to stop those thoughts. My success rate is pitiful!

  2. Your mind really works that hard while waiting in line. Wow that would drive me crazy. You noticed so much detail about what she was wearing, how she treating people, and even how you thought her life was. What is it like to have a mind that constantly is moving. How do you rest it?

    I have to say I don’t think I compare myself with how a person is,looks, or acts.

    I do compare in other situations. An example is the woman’s group I was in for a while.
    The other women had so many issues. Mine seemed so small. I was so uncomfortable .
    I know my problems seemed large to me but after listening to other peoples problems, I was embarrassed. I lashed out sometimes in fear that they would not think I belonged with them. Funny how you make some assumptions about others.

    I always hated the word perfect. Perfect to me means you are boring, it is boring, boring boring boring. There is nothing to strive for,nothing to change,nothing to do because you are there..

    I would never want to be called perfect it is a criticism to me…

    So stop comparing just be .

    Thanks for the topic. You brought me out of my stupor…

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