Modern society is a social trap – we’re not limited by famine, disease, or a lack of technology, we’re limited by our minds. We’re limited by the way we interact with each other.
Instead of being hungry or sick, we’re depressed and anxious. This is our trap!
The root of all of this suffering is comparison. From the outside, our lives are perfectly safe and we have everything we need, but inside the walls of our brains, our minds are obsessed with comparison.
But why do we compare ourselves? What primal urge does the constant comparison satisfy?
It’s time that we took a closer look at the epidemic of social comparison in young men so that we can understand why we do it, what the constant comparison does to our mindsets, and how we can stop doing it.
If you can overcome the effects of excessive comparison, other people (those comparing themselves to you) will think you have superpowers.
Here are 8 reasons why men compare themselves to others, paired with ways that we can overcome these common comparison traps.
1. We think it’s healthy and normal to compare ourselves to other people
The problem isn’t comparison. The problem is too much comparison.
Think of the comparison epidemic the same way you think of the obesity epidemic.
You don’t fix the comparison problem by eliminating comparison. You don’t fix the obesity problem by eliminating food.
Instead, we need to teach people to make better choices in terms of who they compare themselves to. We need to teach people to make better choices the same way that we teach children to choose an apple over a bag of chips or a candy bar.
Don’t make junk comparisons.
If you’re on your first day at the gym, don’t compare yourself to a professional bodybuilder.
That’s a junk comparison.
On the flip side, if you compare yourself to other people in a healthy way, you can reach a new level of personal growth. Healthy competition is real, the problem is that most people are too insecure to give it a shot.
Competing with your friends over who can do the most pull-ups or go the longest without using Instagram isn’t a bad thing.
Problems only arise when we compare ourselves in excess. When you start to base your identity on the comparisons you make, you will experience periods where your identity feels fleeting.
A little comparison is normal. It’s human. Too much comparison will kill you.
In the same way that you know you shouldn’t have pizza and beer for dinner every night, don’t compare yourself to people all day long.
Use comparison sparingly, as a tool for personal development. Nothing else.
But why do men compare themselves in excess? Let’s dig deeper.
2. You use social media to construct your worldview
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the internet is not real life.
You can’t build a healthy perception of yourself when you’re using social media every day, dozens of times per day to stay updated on what your favorite influencers and creators are rambling on about.
Social media is designed for comparison because people primarily use it when they’re feeling some sort of strong emotion.
People post when they’re really happy, really sad, or really angry.
No one posts when they’re feeling “meh”.
So what does this do for you as a consumer?
Social media is like having a person with manic bipolar disorder, whose mood changes faster than a mood ring, stuck in your pocket – all day long.
You’re addicted to checking up on them, following their every move, and comparing yourself to them.
And how do you overcome this?
You’re not going to love the answer.
If social media comparison is a problem for you, the only thing that you can do is quit cold turkey until you learn to stop comparing yourself.
If you absolutely can’t completely stop using social media because of work or something like that, the next best solution is to intensely limit your usage.
Social platforms are a great way to make money and build a brand, but for the most part, they’re crap for making friends and improving your life.
3. You have a comparison habit
Your habits dictate the quality of your life.
Your comparison problem might have started on social media or online, but most people take this habit with them when they turn off their phones and go about their day.
We see someone in a coffee shop with a nice watch and we think about what they must have done to earn that watch. We wonder why we haven’t done that ourselves.
We judge people constantly, and it puts us down in the process.
Here’s the problem though – you still have that nervous energy to compare yourself to people. You still feel insecure.
So what can you do about that?
One great thing that I wish most people were doing more often is lifting other people up. Take your nervous energy that comes from comparing yourself to others and use it to compare yourself in a positive way.
Compliment people. Be kind.
Build your strength by building up strength in others.
It sounds corny, but of all the life advice you will get, this is probably the best.
Don’t be so insecure that you can’t love other people.
4. Your life isn’t going anywhere
Another big reason that men compare themselves to others is that they’re bored.
Maybe they feel they “peaked”. Maybe they had kids. Maybe they failed at some big goal like launching their dream business or creating something that was supposed to change their lives.
A lot of men feel stuck. They feel trapped.
Becoming “stuck” in life gives you the time to constantly compare yourself to other people.
It gives you time to check social media and scroll until your mind is numb and your heart is aching for something better. This will kill you long before your time.
“Many young men die at age 25, but are not buried until they’re 75.” — Benjamin Franklin
This doesn’t have to be you though. You can be more.
You can break free of the comparison trap, and it’s a lot easier than you think.
But you have to act. You have to do something.
You don’t need to become the next Elon Musk or Joe Rogan, but you need to throw yourself into something that will give you a temporary distraction from other people and the possibility of comparison.
A few great ways to do this are writing, martial arts, working out, or playing an instrument, but do what speaks to you.
Do something that gives your mind a break from the social trap of comparison.
5. You’re angry and resentful about something
A lot of men are mad at the world.
Here’s a secret about anger though:
Everyone has something to be pissed off about. The world has wronged all of us in uniquely different ways.
Even the person born with the most silver spoon you can think of deals with issues. This is the human condition.
Suffering is the human condition.
Some of us have been abused. Some of us have been cheated on or left by our lovers who promised they’d always be there. Some of us just got poor draws in the genetic lottery and we feel we aren’t tall enough, handsome enough, or smart enough to thrive in the world today.
I say bullshit to all of it. I say, let’s fight that feeling. Let’s transcend our suffering.
That’s what being a man is all about. That’s what strength is all about.
Feel anger, and transcend that anger.
Anger is not an inherently negative emotion, but anger can lead us to do terrible things.
Anger is energy. Energy can be transformed.
Just like the anxiety that I talked about above, anger is an energy that creates action. It leads us to act certain ways, think certain ways, and live certain lives.
Men can take this energy and use it to better themselves. They can use it to change their lives. They can use the very energy that makes them so angry and resentful and use it to live more loving lives.
Your anger is giving you the energy to forgive yourself. You just have to learn how to control it.
Angry men look for comparisons to justify their anger.
This is a sensation that can be overcome through self-awareness, support, and friendship.
6. You can’t handle uncertainty
Here’s what we know:
You and everyone you know are going to die one day.
Everything else in life is pretty uncertain.
We don’t know what the clouds are going to look like tomorrow. We don’t know if the girl at the bar is going to call you after you give her your number. We don’t know if you’re going to get that promotion at work.
You can certainly impact the outcome of the things that happen to you, but you can’t own the outcomes.
The way that people handle that uncertainty differs, but some methods are healthier than others.
Comparison is one of the unhealthier ways that people try to deal with the insecurity created by uncertainty.
When you don’t have any food yourself, the food of others looks even more delicious.
The same is true with romantic partners, businesses, and other aspects of your life. We compare ourselves because we struggle to handle the fact that our outcomes are not guaranteed.
Athletes compare themselves to their opponents. This is because they don’t know what happens at the end of the game.
If you knew you were going to win, you probably wouldn’t worry about your competition very much.
Artists compare themselves to other artists. This is because they don’t know if they’re “good enough”.
Lovers compare their relationships with their past partners, their parents, and their friends.
They do this because they don’t know if the relationship is going to “end well”.
To break this trap, you have to learn to exist in the present moment. You have to learn to bask in uncertainty.
I know that sounds like hippie stuff, but I promise you, when you’re really doing it, the constant comparison, the constant exhaustion, and the constant anxiety of the comparison will fade away.
That’s when you start living.
A few ways to live a more mindful life and exist more in the present:
- Meditate – simple yet effective for mindfulness
- Write – even just writing an article like this helps me feel more mindful
- Go for walks – there’s a world out there that you’re ignoring by comparing yourself
Life is challenging and uncertain.
Learn how to deal with it.
7. Your identity is fragile
I don’t usually love to use the term “alpha male” because a lot of people misconstrue what it really means to be an alpha, but there’s one thing that alpha males do not do.
They do not constantly question their identity.
They know who they are.
They know their strengths and they know their weaknesses. They have a realistic perspective of where they stand in the world, and this doesn’t bother them.
That last part is the key.
If the person that you are bothers you, you’re always going to be insecure. You’re always going to compare yourself to people.
So how do you overcome this?
You learn to love yourself. You learn to build a strong identity that doesn’t crumble at the first sign of danger.
And how do you do that?
You make yourself into someone worth loving.
Self-love is challenging, but most people make it harder than it needs to be by doing things on a daily basis that make it harder to love themselves.
If you love yourself, you don’t necessarily do “self-care” and give yourself bubble baths and expensive skincare routines. You don’t read self-help books and you don’t listen to motivational speeches.
If you want to love yourself, you have to do the work and make yourself into someone worth loving in your own eyes.
8. You’ve been hurt in the past
There’s usually something that “triggers” an unhealthy comparison obsession.
Most of the time, it’s a trauma of some sort.
When we experience trauma, we not only have to deal with the normal anxiety that comes from everyday life. We also have to deal with the anxiety that comes from our trauma re-inserting itself into our lives.
You’re dealing with at least double the anxiety of someone who hasn’t been traumatized.
This triggers insecurity, anxiety, and of course, constant comparison to other people.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix to this.
You have to do the work. You have to learn your triggers and learn how to deal with them. You have to learn how to not feel insecure around people.
This is easy said than done, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Overcoming the pain of your past is the most rewarding thing that you will do in your entire life.
There are a lot of great ways to overcome the unconscious behaviors of your past, but it starts with:
- Developing self-awareness
- Seeing a licensed mental health professional if you need to
- Developing habits that will help you get where you want to be in terms of your physical, mental, and spiritual health
Overcoming trauma might seem like a lonely thing, but it’s not. In fact, group therapy and activities are one of the best treatments for people who have experienced trauma in their lives.
Comparison can ruin your life.
Constantly comparing yourself makes it impossible to build self-esteem, positive relationships, and better habits.
One great way you can learn to overcome this constant comparison is by joining a tribe of people who also want to be better. People on the same journey as you.
That’s why I want to tell you about my exclusive coaching program, led by me and my team of experienced men’s coaches.
See, this program isn’t only going to help you break free from nice guy behaviors, build quality romantic relationships, and become a stronger Grounded Man. It’s also going to provide you with support from both myself and my elite community of men. Our coaches provide informed professional advice on how to pursue women who are right for you.
If you’re trying to pursue the best women possible, you first need to learn how you can grow.
With this program, you’ll be tapped into your own “band of brothers” and you’ll also have access to the best training course for men in existence today, as well as weekly calls with my team of inspiring and determined coaches. There are no boys, no complainers, or dabblers, this program is for serious men only.