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"The Connection between comparison and shame..."


The connection between comparison and shame:


Human beings are unconsciously wired to compare themselves with others:

When we compare ourselves to others, we open a door for shame to enter…. We

unconsciously compare our lives, our problems, social status, and various other aspects. On

social media we are so aware of what others wear, dress, eat and what others do for fun. This

unconscious comparing with others can create that we feel frustrated with our own lives, this

frustration can lead to a feeling of shame.


Mostly people tend to compare aspects of themselves with another person without knowing

the full story of the other person, this can lead to making assumptions, taking things personal and to overanalyzing a situation. Comparing ourselves to others can make us feel inferior and has the ability to rob us from our own identity and many times lead to procrastination, which results that we do not reach our goals, and this leads to shame.


Why do we compare ourselves to others?


We compare ourselves with others as it gives us a sense of value, a sense of worth, meaning

and purpose. Comparing has the ability to make us feel special or different, valuable, or not

valuable.


When we compare ourselves to others, the unconscious self-talk makes us believe “At least I

am better than him or at least I don’t have the same problem as her”. Unconsciously we

compare ourselves to others for instance “that guy is richer than me”. When people seem

better than ourselves we tend to treat them with more respect.


Teenagers tend to compare themselves to others, as they are afraid of being labelled as weird or different. People in general tend to compare themselves with others due to an unconscious fear of being outcasted from the tribe.


The impact of shame:


When we feel shame, we tend to self-sabotage our potential and our connection with others.

The emotion shame tends to recall past experiences of feeling judged, criticized, or rejected

by someone. People often respond to shame by pushing away others, withdrawing, and

working to preserve their reputation by hiding aspects of themselves, which they believe

might lead to rejection. The paradox is: the more shame we have, the more we tend to


compare ourselves. The result of shame many times leads to a low self-esteem and to a lack

of self-worth. Comparing ourselves can result in losing our identity, as shame has the ability

to make us forget who we are and why we are alive.


We compare ourselves with others through various ways:


During a competition the winner usually feels great while the loser tends to feel shame. This

comparison can play out in other ways for example, if you feel that your siblings get treated

differently than you, you will question yourself and you will feel a sense of shame as you will

feel that you are treated unfairly.

I noticed that many children do certain things with the hope to get recognition from their

parents. If the recognition is not received, they feel shame, this shame is usually linked to

beliefs such as “I am not good enough”; “I am insignificant”.

Other times parents feel that they have done everything they could for their children, but their

children dishonor them, this can lead to shame as the parents will compare what they have

done for the children versus how they get treated in return. The parents also experience

shame if they feel that their children’s choices, beliefs, and values are not in line with what

they have been taught.


We tend to compare our current reality with the ideal reality:


People also experience shame due to a diagnosis which they have a negative connotation

towards, for example to be diagnosed with HIV, mental health disorder, etc. These diagnoses

usually have a great impact on an individual’s identity as these people tend to compare their

current health status with their previous health status.


The emotion shame surfaces whenever we perceive ourselves as a failure, as not good

enough, less than. Where there is the emotion of shame, the emotion of embarrassment, anger (towards self and others), fear, self-loathing and sadness tends to follow shortly.

After a fight (in relationships), shame usually surfaces for both parties, as the person who has

been mistreated, will feel shame due to the other person’s behavior; while the other person

will also feel shame if the behavior was out of alignment. If the conflict situation keeps

repeating without a different result, the shame will become more unconscious within the

psyche, which can be detrimental for the future of the relationship.


If you have set a goal which you did not achieve, it can lead to shame. The disappointment of not attaining a goal can have a direct impact on your character, as you will lose trust within

yourself, and this can lead to a belief that you are a failure.


Does comparing always lead to shame?


Most comparisons are neurotic and can result in an emotion of shame, which can rob us from

joy. Comparing does not need to open the door to shame, some people like athletes use

comparison to motivate themselves to become better, to stay more focused, to practice more and to encourage themselves to reach heights. If we allow ourselves to feel motivated and focused by our comparing, then we can use comparing to become a better version of

ourselves. Hence, comparing has the ability to support us to identify our weaknesses, faults,

and bad habits; in this regard comparing can be useful to motivate and encourage us.


Solution from comparing ourselves to others:


Comparing leads to shame and shame leads to withdrawing. By staying in shame, we

withdraw from life which makes us feel that we do not belong. Instead of comparing I remind

myself that we are all running our own race, no one can run my race for me. I can improve

myself by changing my style or my technique. We need comparing because it can give us a

better perspective. When I feel inferior, I find it helpful to remind myself that I can only be

the best version of myself. To be the best version of ourselves we need to take ownership of

our own lives and create habits which can support us to become the fastest and the best in our race, called life.

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