4 Reasons to Stop Unhealthy Comparisons

4 Reasons to Stop Unhealthy Comparisons

This is a post from guest contributor Mike Burns of The Other Side of Complexity.

If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume a few things are true about you:

  • You want to live and love well.
  • You want to avoid being “too busy” and “too tired”.
  • You want to spend your time on the right things.
  • You prioritize relationships over “stuff”.
  • You want to eliminate the unnecessary so you can’t focus on what’s most important.

Me, too.

I have found that there are LOTS of people JUST LIKE US who want to grow in these areas.

So, we read books and blogs in pursuit of motivation. We encounter multiple voices with tips, tricks and ideas. Many of them are actually REALLY good.

However, there’s a danger. If we’re not careful, we will begin to compare ourselves to other people in unhealthy ways.

You know what I mean…

You read about that family that has a dozen kids and only 100 possessions.

They make their own gluten-free food from their community garden, and eat on beautiful plates that they fashioned from salvaged materials and painted to perfection.

Their hearts are big and their carbon footprint is small. Their hair is always perfect and the kids look like elementary fashion models.

One of the parents effortlessly writes brilliant, 500-word posts on their blog twice a week and it provides full-time income for the family so they can spend their days playing with the kids and uploading images to Instagram.

You begin to wonder… “How do they do it?”… “Why doesn’t my life look like that?”

Obviously, I’m exaggerating. But you get the picture.

We read stories of other people’s lives and we feel like we could never compare. It can be frustrating.

In those moments, you have to remember this: You are the only one who lives your specific, unique life.

Don’t be unfair to yourself and compare yourself to people with different circumstances. Learn from them, but pursue your passions with your resources!

When you’re in the process of simplifying your life, you have to take some time to consider your expectations.

Seriously… What do you expect from yourself?

  • Is it realistic?
  • Is it even possible?
  • Is it in line with your passions and goals?
  • Is it actually someone else’s expectation that you have assumed for yourself?
  • Are you sabotaging your confidence with unattainable or unnecessary ideals?

Unhealthy comparisons hinder us from living the life we want to live. They limit our ability to be all that we could and should be in our relationships and work.


4 Reasons to Stop Unhealthy Comparisons:

1. Your circumstances are different!

I know… It’s pretty obvious, huh? But it needs to be said. We all need to be reminded that our circumstances don’t match the other person’s.

You have to consider your options, not someone else’s.

  • How much time do YOU have available?
  • What are YOUR passions?
  • What is the best choice for YOUR situation?
  • What makes the most sense for how YOUR friends and family respond?

When you choose to give yourself to something, other things go undone. You have to choose carefully what you leave undone. Some things just don’t matter as much as others.

2. There is always more to the story.

When you read or hear about other people, you’re only seeing small bits of their lives.

Every picture isn’t perfect. Every moment isn’t captured.

I’m not trying to be cynical or negative. I just want you to know that all of us are made out of the same stuff. We all have challenges and bad days. Realizing this can be freeing!

We all have limited capacity. There are only so many options to consider. Every decision means unchosen options. Every choice to do one thing, is a choice not to do something else.

So, every person you read about or look up to has to say “No” to something in order to say “Yes” to the thing you’re seeing on their blog.

3. You have to consider timing.

When you have kids in the house, things are different. I’m not making excuses. I’m just trying to be honest. It’s harder to keep the house clean. It’s harder to keep everything in its rightful place. It’s harder to maintain restful rhythms. It’s harder to be clutter-free. Not impossible…just harder.

There…I said it.

But harder doesn’t mean I have to surrender to complexity.

Regardless of our circumstances, we can all take steps to simplify our life and make it simpler than it used to be.

It may be that you have to have slightly lower expectations than you would normally have. You might not be able to only possess 100 items. You may not be able to live in a 300 square foot house.

You may have to say, “Yes, but later.” Right now, other things are more important.

4. You need to focus on YOUR opportunities!

You’re capable of more than you think you are. You have SO much opportunity before you.

When we spend all of our time and energy comparing ourselves to others, we have very little time and energy left to spend on what we SHOULD be doing.

We’re focusing on what we can’t control, rather than what we can.

Perhaps you’ve surrendered to the clutter. You just don’t think you can make progress. You’ve set the bar too low.

To you, I say, “You can do this.”

You may feel like you don’t have the time or energy or ability or confidence to tackle the clutter and live a focused life. Oh, yes you can!

Don’t be content to let your life pass by while you only make excuses. We all have them.

You have potential. You have the gift of this day. You can do something!


Are you maintaining unhealthy comparisons? How is it affecting you? What do you need to do to adjust so you can focus on YOUR opportunities?


Mike Burns writes about simplicity, family life and clutter-free living at the other side of complexity. He is also the author of three excellent simple living e-books. You can connect with him on Twitter (@mikemikeburns) and Facebook. 

4 Responses to 4 Reasons to Stop Unhealthy Comparisons

  1. I agree with you completely here. Comparison takes the joy out of our successes and paralyzes us for the future. It also give a way in for perfectionism, which means nothing even gets started. Thanks for your concise and well thought out ideas on comparison.

  2. Thank you for writing this! I have heard from friends in real life that they have had to stop reading Facebook for the same reason. They compare their regular life to the best moments of other people’s vacations.
    I like the message here that the same is true for any comparison. If we compare our current challenges with someone else’s triumphs, we will always fall short.

  3. I recently read a saying that comparison is “comparing your behind the scenes with their highlight reel”. So true, especially via that tiny snapshot of someones life you get via blogs/the internet. I especially love your last point about looking at YOUR opportunities – it’s so important to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t.