A common mistake that people make throughout treatment is comparing themselves and their situations. While this is common in daily life, it becomes even more severe when substance use is involved. Each and every single one of us are wired differently. That being said, we do not choose to have an addictive personality or not. While some people lean on drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, others rely on recognition from their peers. This is where comparison causes problems; even if you are in the same situation, people handle things differently. On the contrary, those who are in complete opposite situations will also compare themselves to others. Why? And how does this benefit anyone?
News flash… it doesn’t! To help you stop comparing yourself to other people, let us take you through a little guide of tips. At the end, we encourage you to do a short self-love activity that will limit your negative thoughts and encourage positive ones. Without further or do… let’s begin this analysis!
- What is the underlying issue? Comparing yourself, your experiences, your abilities, and your situation to others can stem from many factors- jealousy, self-doubt, envy, low self-esteem, etc. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Why? Because we simply cannot control our feelings but we CAN control our reactions. Many psychological studies have shown that we are much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. The interesting thing is that we will attribute our successes to internal factors and our mistakes to external factors. When it comes to others, we have a reversed mentality about this. Why is that so? Well, we are looking for justified ways of making ourselves look better rather than taking responsibility for our actions. In the grand scheme of things, we will pick on our insecurities and make those the targets of comparison.
- The implications on yourself. As many of you will know, comparing yourself to someone else doesn’t feel good. How can it?! You’re putting yourself down. But don’t worry… you aren’t alone in this. We’ve all done it but this is where it stops! The act of comparing tends to place our focus on others’ strengths and capabilities rather than focusing on our own. In this sense, we often pass up on our unique abilities to grow and achieve success. The effects can range in severity; while some people are in a negative mind frame for an hour, others become anxious and depressed. If this is the case, you should look to your doctor for help. It may get better on its own or it may decline to a worse state. Comparison can also have a negative impact on friendships; by consistently comparing yourself to others, those affected may feel attacked for trying their best. Some of the things you might be comparing in treatment or recovery are; the speed of recovering, your chances of relapsing, and the severance of your story.
- How can you stop comparing yourself to others? In recovery, there are a few things you can do to limit your comparing habits. Here is a little summary:
- Remember: you do not know others’ stories. We see the “social media” image of people, the initial image of their success stories. But how hard was it for them to achieve it? Do you know all the circumstances behind their journey? Chances are… no. Your stories are probably more similar than you think. Rather than beating yourself up over it, talk to people and relate on the same level.
- Create a “positive shift” list. What is that? Let us enlighten you! Comparison is all about the mindset- if you are feeling negative about yourself, you will undoubtedly feel the need to justify why you are lesser than others. That’s going to change! Maintaining sobriety will require an empowering attitude. To sooner acquire this, write out several lists such as “what I will do to stay optimistic,” “what I love about myself and why it’s unique,” and “reminders of my successful progress.”
- Be grateful. Commit yourself to giving thanks for the positivity in your life. How do these factors influence your life? By reminding yourself of these things on a regular basis, you will feel more joy and less of an urge to compare yourself to others.
- Practice acceptance. Some people like to believe that everything happens for a reason and if that is the case, then you must treat circumstances as a learning experience. By accepting your experiences and coming to terms with your feelings about them, you will be more focused on personal growth and less concerned with others’ lives.
- The benefits of not doing so. The very last step… what are the benefits of not comparing your addiction? The list could go on FOREVER. Here are a few highlights:
- You will no longer feel undeserving.
- You will find it easier to accept your past, learn from mistakes, and move on.
- You can set more effective goals. Once you stop comparing yourself, you can make future goals of how you want to evolve, what you want to achieve, and what action you’re going to take to do so.
- You will create healthier relationships. Rather than being negative about your journey in recovery, you will be uplifting of your abilities and others’ as well. You will be able to empathize and compliment their efforts without feeling the need to downgrade your own achievements.
With this knowledge, do you now understand the impact of comparing? We hope so! Cedars is proud to offer an individualized treatment program for each of our patients- because we KNOW that everyone is admitted under different circumstances, has a different personality, and will react in a different way than their peers. The only advice we can give at this point: be kind to yourself and remember… you are always enough.